I spent the entire four days playing monopoly with Jimmy Casinath. There must have been other people in the game but the only one I remember is Jimmy; maybe because we were playing in his room, maybe because he had such a cheerful personality or maybe because he died just two years later, only a year after graduating from Woodstock. I've noticed in the Quadrangle that there is a Casinath prize, presumably named after him, awarded to a Woodstock senior every year. I'm glad to see him thus memorialized but I am sad when I think that no one now at Woodstock remembers the real person behind the award.
In our senior year, it was now or never and so I set out again after school at the start of the four day holidays in 1958, this time with Jack and Norman. And this time the hiking gods smiled on us! We arrived, uneventfully, in Dhalsari the next day having camped in the usual spot in the pine forest below Mugru the night before.
The next morning we rose early and began what is still, almost forty years later, the most memorable day of hiking I have ever had. We climbed steadily in the cool morning air. At some point we caught up with a party of girls from our class, something that had never happened before on any of our hikes. Truly we were ascending into heaven! We walked the last couple of miles together and reached the top around mid morning.
The view in all directions was magnificent. I remember feeling surprised to see how many more ranges still separated us from the high snow peaks.
When we started down, we left the girls and circled over to Dhalsari to gather up all the camping gear we had left there and then we continued our downward plunge to the Uglar. Somewhere along the way we met the girls again and arrived together at the river.
There we discovered that the villagers were demanding toll before they would allow us to cross the bridge. An argument ensued in which we said we had never had to pay before. They said that the bridge had washed out that year and that they had rebuilt it at considerable expense. As a point of pride we decided to ford the river. We boys, being chivalrous and not wanting to miss a legitimate chance to come into closer contact with the girls waded out and formed a chain. We passed the backpacks across and then started to help the girls. Somehow the rush of water and youthful hormones caused the process to break down and we all ended up swimming.
The next hour was probably the most delightful I have ever experienced in the great outdoors, surrounded by water nymphs, the objects of all my youthful desires. It was about three o'clock when we finally got out and started walking again hoping to reach the pine forest before dark. We arrived there near dusk, ahead of the girls, but we were still so excited from the days events that we decided to keep going. We hiked on into the night, back up to Tehri Road and then, by the light of the moon and stars, on to Woodstock.
We arrived at the hostel near midnight. We had climbed Nag Tiba, descended back down to the Uglar, spent an hour swimming, climbed back up the other side and hiked all the way home, a distance of 25 plus miles all in one day. It was a highpoint in my life that I have never come down from, a memory that still delights.
[OR go back to Cobra Mountain 2 or Cobra Mountain 1]