A Journey to Himalayan Odyssey
Journey to Himalayan Odyssey
After the experience of last year’s trek myself, Vasan and Senthil decided into something more adventurous this time. We chose Roopkund as our trekking destination for this year. Roopkund is at 5000 metres of Altitude above sea level. It is in Chamoli district of UttaraKhand. Along with us 4 other brave hearts in Venky, Karthi, Sathiya & Shailesh also decided to join the adventure.
Before I take you through the journey a sneak peak about Roopkund as below:
Roopkund - Mystery Lake is a high altitude glacial lake in the UttaraKhand state. It lies in the lap ofTrishul massif and is famous for the hundreds of human skeletons found at the edge of the lake. The area is uninhabited, located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 5,029 metres (16,499 feet).
We started off a yet another Himalayan Odyssey from Delhi on 19th Sep. … Reached Kathgodham by a night train from Delhi. After a brief stay in a Kumaon guest house in Kathgodham we made our way to Lohajung which is the base camp of Roopkund trek by a Tempo Traveler. Lohajung is situated at 7500 feet above sea level. We were joined by Hardik, Rupesh & Tushar from Delhi as co- trekkers. It was a long drive that took us deep into the Himalayan interiors. Our driver Pramod Joshi was an experienced mountain rider and he skillfully steered through the Himalayan high roads. Soon the serpentine climb started as we passed by the scenic towns of Bhimtal, Kausani, Almora & Gwaldam. Both the sides of the road were dotted with tall pine trees matching the hills. Reached Lohajung at 7 pm greeted by Dev Singh our Trekking Guide. He briefed us about the plan for the next 6 days with clarity of do’s and dont's. Settled down to a comfortable home like stay with our minds occupied with the trekking expedition starting from the next day…
|Kathgodham traveler's guest house|
Day 1: It was the starting day of the trek. Excited we woke up early but as we observed this “waking up early” syndrome perhaps happens when-so-ever we are in the Himalayas. After the breakfast we started trekking on the almost level ground off the jeep road which goes till the village of Wan .After walking for an hour and half on the flat surface we reached Kulling at a distance of 6 Km from Lohajung. From here we descended through the village and firming fields to reach a small stream. This was the point to fill up our water bottles and take photo graphs. From this place we descended further and reached the river Neel Ganga… From Lohajung we would have descended 1500 feet to reach Neel Ganga. From here we had to climb up 2000 feet to reach Didna. .The ascent was moderately steep but the hot weather made it difficult to climb. The trail is through the sub alpine evergreen forests and farm lands on both the sides. Reached Didna around 2.00 pm to a home stay owned by a cute baby Manisha’s family. Soon we were served with simple lunch of Rice, Rajma, Paapad & Pickles. Didna is a small sleepy village at 8500 feet of Altitude. We had covered 10 kms of distance today in about 5 hrs time…
Day 2: We started our day at 8 am as we had to trek 13 kms today to reach Bedni Bugiyal. Before that we warmed up and stretched under the guidance of Venky who has done 24 full marathons. His presence itself was a huge inspiration for all us. Bedni Bugiyal is at 12000 feet altitude. The trek initially was through the settlement of shepherds called Tolpani. The trail was through the thick vegetation of Oak, Birch & Rhododendron trees. The ascent was moderate to high with the weather being gloomy. The climb was however steep comparing to the previous day and we had to stop many a times to rest. To make the climb easier I made small distance targets and kept pushing ahead. I stopped after 50 to 100 steps to catch my breath. After deep breathing when I feel my lungs are full I continued ahead in a similar manner. It is more of mental endurance game than brute physical strength. As always Senthil was cool as a cucumber without any strain whistling his way in all the climbs. After 3 to 4 hours of trek suddenly a wide vista opened up to Ali Bugiyal, the largest meadow in Asia. We were speechless to witness the out of the world beauty. As far as our eyes could see it was a green carpet all around, without a single tree... It was misty and we could feel the clouds caressing our face. Ali Bugiyal looked like a typical Scottish village with horses and cows grazing in the meadow. The tiredness we had felt till some moments ago while climbing continuously up-hill for almost 4 hours simply vanished at the site of Ali Bugiyal. After crossing this Bugiyal we climbed for a while and traversed for an hour to reach Bedni Bugiyal, our camping ground for the day. Bedni Bugiyal is at an altitude of 12000 feet. A little ahead of our camp site was Bedni Kund, with very little water. Adjacent to it was the cute stone temples, laid out by slates, which we saw as we glided down-hill through the meadows. Finally we reached our campsite after a total of 8 hrs of trekking. Our limbs were tired and we opened our shoes for the needed relief. But the chill factor was there. After a while it started raining heavily in Bedni. We were confined to the tent whole of night and the temperature started to dip to subzero levels.. It was a torrid night with horses running around our tents and incessant rains lashing throughout the night. I was scared that it shouldn’t be the repeat of what happened in UttaraKhand in 2013. At Bedni, I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night, shivered inside the sleeping bag. So the first ray of sun brought me outdoors. Clear sky provided perfect scenery as Chowkhamba, Neelkanth, Kedarnath dome, Trishul and Nanadaghunti stood majestically. Nature in this region could be highly unpredictable, so we got ready quickly for Pathar Nachuni.
Day3: After a quick freshen up, we visited the nearby stone shrine of Bedni and prayed for a safe trek. We had a quick breakfast and started off around 9 am –our destination of the day Patar Nachuni. Though a distance of 5 kms, it was going to be a tough way up-hill all through. After an hour of climb we crossed one ridge after the other to finally reach a peak called Ghoda Latuni, here we could see the Hathi Parbat through the cloud cover. The weather deteriorated, cloud covered the snow capped mountains. The next kilometer to Pathar Nachuni was an easy stretch across the plains. We had lunch at Pathar Nachuni. After a while climbed up to nearby Dhaba for hot tea and Maggi. We got mobile connectivity near the Dhaba, we could speak to our folks at home.
Day 4: The day dawned at 5.30 am for us with Anand our cook serving us hot tea in our tents. The weather was cloudy and gloomy but fortunately there was no rain. Today our destination was Baguabasa (14400 ft.). We started around 8 am after group photos to climb a steep ridge leading to the Dhaba. From there on the climb was much steeper and we gained almost 1500 feet within a distance of 1.5 kms. The weather was playing hide and seek with suddenly clouds opening up and closing. Finally after an arduous exhaustive climb of over 2 hours we reached the shrine of Kalua Vinayak Temple.
Kalua Vinayak temple is at 14000 feet altitude. We spent some time ringing the bells and trying our hands to blow the conch. From here we could sight the snowcapped mountain ranges of Neelkanta Bandar ka poonch, Chowkhamba and Kedar dome. It is truly mesmerizing with glittering Trishul on right and Nandaghunti on the left. We gradually walk down on a rocky trail for 1 kms to reach Baguabasa. The distance of 5 kms to Baguabasa took around 3 hrs. On the way there was a small cave on the right side of the trail, and according to the legend it is the resting place of the Tiger that the goddess Nanda Devi rides. This area is famous for the flower Brahma Kamal, blooming beautifully amidst the rocks. Our camp site was in Baguabasa for the day. Sathiya & Vasan made tasty Rasam for dinner which made us miss our home. We couldn’t venture out of the tent as it was very cold, the night was extremely cold as we wrapped us under the sleeping bag at 7.00 pm. The next day we were supposed to start our day at 4.30 am for the climb to Roopkund…
|Neelkanta, Chowkambha, Bandar ka poonch, Kedar Dome|
Day 5: The day started at 4.00 am with temperature hovering around minus 2 degrees. Today is the day we would reach the summit Roopkund. Roopkund is 3.5 km away from Baguabasa at an altitude of 15500 feet. We started the trek at 4.30 am. Though there was no snow the trail was slippery due to the dew and loose rocks. From our camping site the trail is a traverse first till we reach a place called Chhiria Nag meaning staircase formation like a snake. From this point the climb is moderately steep and one final steep climb on rock leads us to a flattened trail. It was a tough 2 ½ hours of climb in the grueling cold weather. We reached Roopkund at 7.00 am to the sight of a lake surrounded with snow and skeletons strewn all round. All of us were dumb found for some time because of the cold and the sight we saw. Took photographs around the lake braving the weather. There is a small temple of Nanda Devi in Roopkund, offered our prayers and started descending down. If the ascent was tough the descent was also equally difficult. We had to carefully walk down the trail not to slip and fall in the ravine. It took us 2 hrs to reach our campsite. I was down and out with severe altitude sickness. Rested for some time, post lunch we started our descent to Patar Nachuni. It was very cold and windy with almost zero visibility on our way back. For the first time in the last 5 days we had the luxury of staying in a bunker in Patar Nachuni. Had a nice dinner and all of us chatted and played cards with the delight having completed the Roopkund trek successfully.
Day 6: Today is the long day of descend. We had to trek 17 kms to reach Wan. Started the trek at 7.00 am with sun showing its face behind the clouds. After having experienced herculean climbs the walk upto Bedni Bugiyal was like a walk in the park. After clicking photographs in Bedni Kund we took a different route instead of going to Ali Bugiyal. This route was thickly vegetated with tall pine and oak trees after Bedini. We had to go through Birch forest into a deep green valley. The walk was lovely through the lush forest trail. Till Neel Ganga the trail was very steep descent which was hurting our knees. We reached Neel Ganga River and had our lunch over there. From there was a climb for 1 km through grass fields and village houses. With the satisfaction of climbing Roopkund we were in chirpy mood myself, Senthil & Vasan did an impromptu jig for our every favorite MJ song on our way back… We finally reached Wan around 3 pm and got into to a cab to reach Lohajung… Our trek to Roopkund ended here……
This was one of the toughest expeditions I had undertaken thus far. The ascent was unrelenting, the weather was hostile, but in spite of all these challenges, the energy the mighty Himalayas radiates is worth taking all these. We encountered pain but not suffering. You can never conquer or defeat Himalayas, you have to embrace it. It is always been a humbling experience. …There was tremendous camaraderie between all of us. Though Rupesh, Hardik & Tushar were new to our group they gelled well. Like last trek this time around also made new friends who would be friends for life time. Last year after I visited Hampta Pass my outlook about life had changed. Similarly this time I believe my thoughts certain personal traits would change after this journey to Himalayas. Like in the song “Hotel California” by Eagles, Himalayas also in my opinion is “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”….
One sad thing we noticed is that the Himalayas is being polluted with non-bio degradable waste strewn by the trekkers and the trek support team. It is a disheartening sight. Myself and the friends who came along for the trek are going to initiate an awareness campaign through social media in the name of “Trek & Treat. Finally I request all my friends through this blog to undertake trekking in Himalayas at least once for a lifetime experience….
As always my family and friends has been the pillar of strength in all my pursuits… My wife and my sons Nikhil & Rohit were as enthusiastic as I was during this trek.