The next morning, after our breakfast of dhal and roti we head to the valley of flowers. I'm feeling a bit 'bowelarily tumultuous' as I put it, so the walk is punctuated by...stops... but it's a much easier walk than the day before and the views are stunning.
I head back a bit early as I'm not feeling great, realising as I get back that Tyler has the only key to our room, and have a nap in an open spare room. When I wake it's dark and I find no sign of Tyler or Gribb. Downstairs no one has seen them either, and a czech couple said they saw them a few hours before and that they were trying to find a lake, deep into the valley. They also said it's a crazy idea and hoped they'd changed their minds. The woman speaks some hindi and talks to the locals, who are starting to worry, and she tells me there is a real danger of bears, who come out at night to eat.
I have a fairly hyperactive imagination and had idly thought about one or more of us being eaten by bears many hours earlier but I do it just to pass the time, without any expectation or worry. As the locals start amassing a search party to go into the hills I begin to wonder if one of my crazy daydreams might actually be coming true. When I get up to go with them they tell me they know the area and will be quicker without me which, having seen some locals on the paths, I don't doubt. I also had fallen in the river on the way back earlier and my spare clothes are locked away in my room, so realise it's probably sensible to stay behind. A hypothermic cheesies wont help the search. The minutes tick by...
After an hour or so, we hear shouting, see lights and our hotel owner carrying a huge flaming torch with a triumphant grin on his face. Tyler and Gribb follow closely behind.
"Where have you been you crazy bastards!" I yell in mock outrage.
"You were worried, huh? Yeah, I would've been too." Smiles all round.
Turns out they simply misjudged the time - though Gribb had started a 1hr+ steep unpathed hill-climb as it was getting dark, and he was not to be persuaded otherwise. Tyler turned back, and after a little while, in a rare moment of rationalisation (or self-preservation?), Gribb changed his mind and turned back too.
After our dhal and roti, Tyler gets us invited to a 'party'. I wish I'd got a video - it was just a bunch of old, very drunk Indians singing and staggering around a campfire. The entire village is there (perhaps a dozen people) and they are delighted to see us; shaking our hands non-stop, standing us up, sitting us down, trying to teach us a local dance (uncoordinated drunken stagger is more accurate!) We leave pretty quickly.
The day after we head to Hemkund - a temple 4.5km above sea level in the mountains. Gribb made himself throw up the contents of his stomach the night before because of indigestion from the roti ("roti is very strong food - make fire in belly") and diarrhea took care of the other end, so when he says he plans to not eat anything all day, we're surprised to say the least.
"You ever hiked for 8 hours without food before?" Tyler asks.
"I fine, I just have water, and sun energy." And he faces the sun, palms up, eyes closed. While he has his breakfast, we have ours: guess what?
It's not an easy walk; only 6km each way but it's a 1.5km climb so it's fairly steep. Gribb is, not surprisingly, struggling and turns back halfway. We're very glad we carried on.
The night is so cold I can't sleep. I'm wearing 4 long-sleeved tops and a hoodie, and hiding under the duvet but still am shivering uncontrollably. I feel worse and worse throughout the night, and by the morning I've got the works - aching joints and muscles (or 'moooskles' as Gribb calls), slight fever, headache, cough, cold and the runs. It's going to be a fun 14km hike back, I think grimly.
Turns out to be ok, weather is good, and I feel a bit better once I get moving. More naked swimming/being frozen from Gribb, more flirting with beautiful women from Tyler. We meet Shankie, an friendly Indian (are there any other kind?) who we passed on the way back from Hemkund, turns out he is doing the entire Govindghat - Hemkund trek in 48 hours, camping out at Hemkund. I can only imagine how cold that must have been. We walk together for the rest of it, and he is heading Rishikesh-wards too, and gets us sorted with a bus back, leaving 4.30am the next morning. Tyler is heading to Nepal though and gets a different bus, so we say our goodbyes ("lets hug it out, bitch!"). We end up sitting out on the street all night - possibly not the best idea considering my state but oh well - and finally get our bus. Not the funnest 12-hr bus ride I've ever had, but we make it back finally and I trudge to find a guesthouse in a daze. I have my first hot shower since arriving in India, and I can't quite put into words how good it is.
So that's that! Back in Rishikesh now, heading off tomorrow on the enfield. Wish me luck! I'm gunna need it...