Last December, I went on a solo hike to Dayara Bugyal, an alpine meadow
in the Garhwal Himalayas, at an altitude of some 3000m above sea level.
In summer, it's a popular hiking destination, and shepherds bring their
flocks there to graze, but I had the place all to myself.
I had planned to spend the first night next to Barnala Tal, a small lake
just below the final ascent to Dayara. The instructions I got on how to
find the lake were typically vague, however, and I had still not reached
it by evening. I was tired, and decided to descend and camp next to the
only water I'd found seen so far: a shallow marsh, with stinking water
that turned out to be unsuitable even to filter.
As I pitched my tent, this buffalo skull was my only companion:
It was not until late the next morning that I found the lake, a mere
250m further than I'd ventured the previous day, hidden from me by a
shallow rise. There was a couple of centimetres of ice on the lake,
and I had to smash through it to fill my bottle.
Never has a drink of water been more welcome.