It was only stories heard and tales read until I saw one in person. It was never a thought that crossed my mind, that one day, I will witness the existence of Yeti…
Date: 10 Feb 2010
Place: Somewhere in Uttarakhand
Sub-zero temperatures, continuous snow-fall, 10000+ feet and just another day at the office. Yet today, I was reluctant to get out of my bed. The task ahead was important and expectation of responsibility was high, so I shook my ass up and got ready for the job. Over the next 19 days, we were supposed to encounter all the odds of nature to clear the layers of snow over a stretch of 27 km uphill, stating from an altitude of 8000 ft and terminating at 10800. Not much though for an altitude, but when we talk of Uttarakhand mountains, they have an attitude of their own. As the popular saying goes here, that every element of nature gives you a chance to survive; water does not drown one instantly, fire gives a sign of heat before burning, air can be felt from a distance, but the mountains are brutal. Either they accept you or they don’t.No one dares to bully these mountains at this juncture of the season, but it was just another day for my team at the office. We were awaiting a surprise though.
I set out with my team at 07:00 in the morning. The sun was just rising, and the pinkish hue was visible over the mountains, a feeling that has always touched me the most. It is priceless. Well, there was snow everywhere, a white blanket covered every possible inch of the mountains and the highway covered with 8-9 feet of snow. The operator cranked the engine of the giant bulldozer and we started off with the snow-clearance. As he cleared one layer over the other, thin sheets of ice remained over the road layer, making it difficult for my driver to move ahead his jeep, as it kept sliding over the ice layers. Our team worked relentlessly over next 12 days and cleared the major stretches of the road.
It was my thirteenth day and by now, I guess the mountains realized I was not going back. Sun started showing up for most of the days. A pleasant warmth in the chill of the air prevailed. It was around 09:00 AM in the morning, when the bulldozer operator was busy clearing a patch of the highway. I was trying to witness the road ahead to keep the operator alert before hand. At about 50 metres from our position, along the side of the road, I could see a strange pattern. It looked like a footprint. But there was something strange and unusual about it.
First, I had never seen a paw print as big as 18 inches in size. Next, the span between the feet was about 2 metres. I thought it was an animal, but which animal on a mountain had two legs and that too, one that looked like that of a human being!! I was nervous. Of course, that animal might be watching over us from behind and ready to attack. A long trail of footsteps came downhill and mingled within the trees along the mountain edges. That’s where my new friend must have come from.
I paused my team for a moment, expecting an attack (As if I could have done a lot, if he did something), but nothing happened. We resumed our work. But there was something I did not want to miss out. There was enough time I had to spend there, so I thought this moment must not go undocumented. I tried to measure the footprints and realized that the height of the giant won’t be any less than 20 feet.
Then I tried to put my footprints next to it and realized that it was not even half the size of that paw. These footprints would were made several weeks ago, so there was nothing to worry about. In snow, impressions such as footprints remain for several weeks as the an ice layer instantly forms over the impression, sealing it off completely. As we cleared the road, the local villagers started making their way up. I asked one of them, have you seen such footprints before? The answer was, several times..But couldn’t see one of those beings in person.
They are called the ‘Yeti’, OR ‘The Snow Man’.They are the God’s messenger and protector of these mountains. For several years, they have been here, protecting us from the nature’s brunt, said the old and the wise.
This was a worthwhile day. As I made my way back to my headquarters, I had a souvenir that will last with me for a lifetime. And a realization that the most precious gifts of life are meant for a select few, who dare to go beyond themselves. I felt proud of the team I worked with. Everyone had worked so hard to get it through, and my pain was not even half of theirs. But they never gave up and never allowed me to do so..
29th Feb 2010, exactly 19 days after, my team finally cleared the last km of the road making way for the villagers to start their farming for the next season. It was a splendid feeling, as the good wishes poured from all around, though it was just another day at work, it brought a sense of achievement in the end.