Cobra Mountain 2 - Sophomore Silliness
by Gil Osgood
First written - 27 March 1997

After the debacle of our freshman trip to Nag Tiba, when our group split in two and climbed two wrong mountains, it took real talent to come up with an even more ignominious failure our second time out!

It was already raining when Jack and Hugh and I (Norm was on furlough) set out after school at the beginning of the four-day holidays in 1956. I had a splitting headache, was sick to my stomach and had to stop frequently to rest. When we got four miles out Tehri road, at the point where a side trail leads up over the ridge and past a cave, I seriously considered leaving the other two and going there to die peacefully. I was finally dissuaded, but because of the delay we ended up camping above Mugru at a rocky spot next to the road instead of below Mugru in the pine forest. It was raining when we pitched our tent and still raining the next morning when we got up.

Having learned nothing from our previous attempt, almost all our food needed cooking to be edible and we had been unable to light a fire. By the time we reached the Uglar we were so demoralized from hunger, cold and damp that we decided to give up and go home.

Not wanting the trip to be a complete loss, however, we decided to go back by climbing up over Pepperpot, looping past the cave and back down to Tehri Road. The first step was to cross the small tributary of the Uglar that separated us from the base of Pepperpot.

Our packs had been chafing and cutting into our backs and shoulders so badly that we had been taking turns carrying each others knapsacks in hopes that the different wounds inflicted by each load would result in a more even distribution of pain. So Hugh was carrying my pack as he started hopping from stone to stone to cross the stream. Half way across he started to slip off a rock and rather than go into the stream himself he dropped my pack into the water soaking my sleeping bag. I was naturally outraged and explained to him in some detail the obvious deficiencies in the morals of someone who would put the safety of his own hide above protecting my property.

Image this!
Soaked wet pack with sleeping bag!

Despite my eloquence, Hugh failed to show the appropriate degree of remorse and repentence, and there was nothing for it but to press on and so we began our slow and famished climb up Pepperpot. The only edible food we had was an apple a piece and we stopped from time to time to take a bite. I have no other recollections of apples in India, but this one I remember as the sweetest and best I ever tasted.

At some point we were overtaken by two men who offered to show us the way and we gladly accepted their offer. It was late in the afternoon when we finally realized that they were showing us the way to their village rather than back to Landour. We had climbed half way up Pepperpot and then followed a trail leading west halfway around the mountain to their village.

We pressed on in the half hour or so of daylight before camping and managing to get a fire going for the first time in two days. We had only one pot so we cooked rice and bouillon cubes and hard boiled eggs all at the same time. It was one of the best meals I've ever eaten. My sleeping bag was still damp but I was too tired to care.

The next morning we discovered that we were camped above Smith's swimming hole, just three miles from Woodstock. So we climbed down and hiked back up the other side, coming out on Tehri Road at 2nd banya and trudging gratefully back to the Hostel.

To be continued. Cobra Mountain 3.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-- Winston Churchill

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