Himalayan Chill

Himalayan ChillThe chill of the lower Himalayas is ever-present.  It envelopes you from the moment of arrival and despite concerted efforts at mitigation the freezing adversary remains. It nestles deep inside your bones to the point where nothing can absolve you of it.

You wear layers of clothes upon layers of clothes.  You refuse to shower because removing those garments even for a short time means succumbing to the fanged bite of winter and for what purpose; it is too cold to sweat and so the travel size bottle of Purell sanitizer becomes both shower and soap.

The room comes standard with a bucket of ice-cold water; fresh every morning.  One of the hotel amenities. Splashing a handful on your face wakes you like nothing else. Thousands of pin pricks sear your cheeks. Towel drying with urgency is important otherwise your eye-lashes become places of refuge for rouge wanna-be icicles. 

You are now more alert than at any other time in your life!

The pursuit of warmth ends only when your eyes close at night but reaffirms it’s all important status immediately upon waking.

At night you sleep fully dressed in a sleeping bag zipped tightly so that the hood is secure around your head. Inside the bag lies a hot water bottle yet still the cold prevails.

The morning brings with it hot tea on the balcony.  Being drenched by the rays of the rising sun is nothing short of bliss; the new day begins.

It is cold and we are only in Solan…the very first stop on this Himalayan journey to bring much-needed medical supplies to small villages in the outlying regions.

Even though Solan is one of the lowest stops on our itinerary, altitude wise, it is by far the coldest. As we ascend into the mountains of the Himalayas, heat becomes a necessity not only for us but for all people and therefore ways to provide it had become the norm.

In Solan I am not sure if the hotel owners were just a tough bunch or a stingy bunch who figured they could save some rupees on heating expenses…I am kind of leaning towards the latter.

To find out how this all came about; click Beckoned Skyward by an Earthquake.

To see more photos of India; click India – A Photo Journal

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43 thoughts on “Himalayan Chill

  1. Wow, I’ve travelled a little south of this area, and had the comfort of coal heaters and bonfires. But this sounds quite adventurous! Looking forward to the rest!

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    1. I have never been so cold in my life but it was well worth the experience. In the five weeks I was there on this trip I garnered many stories so I am glad you are joining me on this journey, thanks.

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    1. It was crazy how cozy and warm everything got once we climbed higher. Like your shawl, I bought a pair of socks that are so thick they are like shoes. They definitely do the trick though. I think an entire sheep went into the making of them 🙂 We pursued warmth and caught it!

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  2. Reading this post reminded me how much I hate the cold. I lived in Minot North Dakota for four years where winter temperature went to -80; it re-defined the term cold for me. Since living there, I now find it hard to tolerate any chill in the air. Now are all of you really smiling or are your faces just frozen in a smile position?

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  3. Hello Tim,

    Each word from first line, till the run towards towel—- is something 100% that I have experienced in Kashmir for years and years. Believe me, when you come out of the rooms the first strike of air, even having layers and layers of cloths, is like, it is nailed into your ,,, deep down.

    I can understand fully, how you will be experiencing, ice cold water and at times, the water freeze in pipes.

    But your spirits are high with a great cause.

    You can drink hot corn soup before going to bed, it can help relieve some coldness.
    All the best.

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  4. You are better than me. There is no way I could be somewhere where it is that cold. For me that’s torture. I live vicariously through your posts.

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  5. That’s it. The next time I feel compelled to go on an international aid mission, I’m going to Guatemala, or somewhere tropical! Is that you in the sleeping bag, with your feet hanging off the end of the bed?

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  6. Haha and bravo! Your post just made my core temp feel like it dropped a couple of degrees. I am not a fan of cold either. Granted, it gets cold in Boise but not COLD as in Montana cold or Himalayas cold 😉 The four winters I spent between Florida and North Carolina finally sealed the deal on just how much I hate cold. I’m so glad the hot and dry summer is coming up.

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  7. I am super grateful to you for having this experience and allowing me to live it through your words:) I can’t do cold anymore. Must have been those 18 years in WI that did me in. But I can’t wait to hear about the higher elevations and the “warmer.” I am sure there was a great deal of acclimation too:)

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    1. It was kind of ironic how cozy it all got once we went higher up; at least when indoors. Always amazed me how the monks seemed impervious to the freezing temps as they walked about in sandals without socks and short sleeve robes.

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  8. You are a brave man. I’m not sure I could brave much more than a week in such cold. I’ve been in temperatures close to 0 when the electricity when out for a day or two, but that is the closest I’ve come to such cold. I love how everyone has a smile on their faces, despite the fact that they do look pretty chilly.

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  9. Wow as I’m reading your article I found myself hunching over a bit just thinking about the cold you endured! I’ve occasionally traveled during the winter months on the mainland and for this tropical island girl that was harsh enough but I have a feeling that doesn’t compare to your Himalayas adventure. Fascinating reading, thanks Tim!

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  10. What a fascinating place to be, on top of the world. I grew up reading James Hilton’s Lost Horizons. The Himalayans hiding the secret Shangri-La. I guess it is not as glamorous as I first thought. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. As usual, your report is very interesting, but this time I have no interest in observing it myself. Cold that has no relief except in bed is not something I want to experience. I want a thermostat that can give me hot or cold at the touch of a button and water that is just as varied. Thank you for describing this place so that I don’t have to go there! You are such an avid explorer!

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  12. Tim, what you won’t go through for adventure and to help others. I hate being cold more than anything else because it’s so pervasive. Being willing to endure this for others I can only say BRAVO.

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    1. I am not a big fan of being cold Lenie, that’s why I head to the desert in the summertime. Sometimes though, you got to change it up. Believe me, being this cold was not fun.

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  13. After going through the worst winter on the East Coast I can’t even fathom how cold it in the Himalayas, plus where you are is the lowest stops.

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    1. The big difference between there and the States is that there was just no place to get a warm respite. You were therefore perpetually cold and it gets into your bones.

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