HAR KI DUN TREK 13may – 19may 2018
“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”
Always being an adventure seeking person, trekking the Himalayas has been a part of my bucket list since 3 years. I was just scared to do it all alone. Therefore, I started planning for the trek with 2 of my cousins, both of whom cancelled it last moment. I then decided to go it all alone, but fortunately found one of my old friend planning the same trek which boosted me up and we decided to go together. I have seen a lot of videos on youtube and read a lot about the trek before finalizing it. In a world full of technologies this is how we plan things, right?
Okay! Here the question arises which group to join? As a first time solo trekker I cannot do it all on my own. I was very much excited about this because first, getting permission from home for a solo trek [Yes, I haven’t mentioned to my parents about my friend joining me to avoid chaos] was difficult and second I was getting over a breakup for which some vacations are much needed.
TREK THE HIMALAYAS
India hikes is what I have heard when it comes to trekking the mountains. But the dates we were seeking to trek were booked, which I must say was fortunate for us. So, we decided to go for “Trek the Himalayas” in a worry. Being a part of TTH, I got some strangers who soon became a family for those 7 days. The entire TTH team, trek leader-Mr.Dev and kitchen partners were of great help making it more amazing. I could not have made it to the summit without the support of TTH.
Duration: 7 days
HAR KI DUN is the most gorgeous trekking destinations in the Garhwal Himalayas, a hanging valley famed for exquisite beauty. In the mid summers, the route offers a variety of forests rich in flora and fauna. Fortunately, we didn’t come across any rainfall during the entire trek making it quite easy. A series of quiet villages and camping across the flowing mountain river with visible snow mountains added to the delightful beauty across the trek. The trail is thousands of years old and steeped. Someone mentioned, it is the same route taken by the Pandavas in the Mahabharata on their way to heaven.
I have started from the heart of India- Madhya Pradesh. After a 1.5hrs evening flight from Indore to Delhi, I met a friend during a layover of 4hrs in Delhi. It was an overnight train to Dehradun from Delhi. The scenic views of the mountains have started being visible in the morning through the windows of the train. This is how the state of mountains welcomed me. My friend had already reached Dehradun a day earlier. I freshened up in his room and then we started for the drive.
Day 1 : Dehradun to Sankri
We started from Dehradun Railway station around 8am in a bolero. One tempo traveler of 13 members have already left because my train was late. Initially the temperature was quite high. But while travelling to 220kms to sankri, the mountains gradually dropped towards an amazing temperature. We stopped few times for breakfast and lunch. As we ascended towards sankri, the mountains were wrapping us all around with a view of streaming Yamuna river. My friend has this kick to have a bath in the stream, so for half an hour we halted till he jumped into the cold stream in his boxers. Two of us were sitting with our legs kept in the stream of flowing cold water. At that moment, for the first I developed confidence about the Himalayas. After purola, for a distance of about 10kms we 3 sat on the roof of the vehicle to enjoy the scenic mountains. We reached Sankri our base camp at about 5pm. With the scenic view of the mountains we had our evening tea and snacks. It was a pleasant evening at Sankri with welcoming by TTH and details about the trek Along with hot dinner served. We all 18 introduced ourselves and so did the TTH team. I kinda felt low being the only medical student among maximum people who are engineers and earn well. Remembering every name during the first day was difficult though I tried to. The room was shared among 4 girls and it was a cozy night as in winters.
DAY 2 : Sankri to Pauni Garaat
With the mesmerizing view of the mountains and a cup of hot tea in the cold atmosphere the day begins. After the breakfast prepared by TTH team, we drove 10kms to Taluka village at an altitude of 7000ft. Being on the roof of the car, I can see the mountains taking their loops as the sun started ascending overhead. Due to construction work of a bridge near the village, we have to start walking 2kms before the actual trail. Walking through the steep paths of the nature for the next 12kms was beautiful.
On the way we came across various mountain dogs who though may seem scary were calm. I can watch the trees spreading like canopies to cover us throughout the trail. It was muddy and covered with stones. Fortunate enough, it didn’t rain. Not to forget mentioning the Mules who carried the rest of the burden throughout. Refilling the water bottles throughout was a task. We reached Pauni Garaat at 8200ft- our first camp site at around 4pm. Being served by delicious pakora and tea followed by dinner at the camp site by TTH.
As we got closer to each other during the first day, laughter was spread and because of no cellular networks probably the members started bonding quickly to each other. Post dinner we played cards for a while. Also the oxymeter reading by the trek leader was scary, he always used to say that if saturation gets low u will be sent to the base camp immediately. There was a motivation inside me to make it to Har Ki Doon. It was a bit cold at night but the sleeping bags and tents were cozy to keep us warm for the night. I was alone and bit scared in the tent for the first night, so I asked my friend to accompany me for the night. He clearly mentioned about his relationship and hesitated a bit to accompany me but later on got comfortable for the rest of the camp nights. It gets easy to walk when u carry the least on your backpacks. I played clever who emptied her backpack half into her friend’s and some other into a new friend’s pack which was carried by mule. I must thank both of u guys to help me and tolerate me throughout the trek.
“It felt like an entirely different world with no worries and just adventures ahead. The mountains were roaring & I left in serenity to watch the mesmerizing nature.”
DAY 3 : Pauni Garaat to Kalkattiyadhar
A pleasant morning around the springly mountain river followed by breakfast started the next trail of 8kms with 9800ft altitude. The mountains were wrapping us around their arms with a cool temperature and the snow peaks getting closer. The trek group was divided into 2- the rabbits and the tortoises. Me being the tortoise always wondered to finish this race and make it to the summit. Anyhow the rabbits have to rest more and wait for us at some points to equalize.
The trail was a tough one with slopes of ascends. I met a variety of people during the ascent at the age of extremities, proving that age is no barrier to any adventure. The pre-school kids were a motivation. With glucose, chocolates and TTH team for energy the inclined path was made easy. Also we got followed by two mountain dogs during the entire trail. I named them after two of my trek mates who fed them. Love-the doggie was pigmented female dog with black and golden feathers and her eyes filled with loyality. Ashu- the doggie was a golden furry male who never left his mate partner. I was fascinated by these mountain dogs being calm. I wish I could bring them home. But by barking whole night they terrified our night.
The campsite was pleasant with in the vicinity of snow peaks in meadows. The team was getting along together with a stand up comedy by a solo trekker in the team and cards post dinner. We started sharing our stories in the mood knowing that no one will be judged. The breakup stories were touchy. Life always teaches us a way to move further. The night was way colder than the previous one, the sleeping bags and two layers kept us warm. Initially, me and my friend tried sharing a sleeping bag to keep us warm. In the intoxication of hash, he tried making a move on me, but I resisted and warned him that I would throw him out of the tent for the night. Later, we separated sleeping bags but couldn’t sleep properly as the tent was on a slide and the dogs kept barking.
Day 4 : Kalkattiyadhar to Har ki dun
The trail of 5kms towards the summit at 12000ft was easier and motivating. On the way towards summit, I met different people many of them were returning back who kept on motivating us towards the summit. It was a relaxed forest walk and boulder walk with gradual incline. I started at the speed of rabbit and reached the summit with the same pace. Well, probably I enjoyed irritating my friend throughout. By now the person who knew me only as someone who was junior him in high school know much about me. And I have a habit of non-stop talking which probably annoyed him much. I am pretty sure he won’t be taking any more trips with me. We two joined together for a trek are of complete opposite nature. He is a businessman who never had any interest in studies and this is his 5th trip of the year [Speaking in the month of may] and I am a final year medical student who cannot even take a leave on Sunday. It took a lot of courage to plan this trek and get a little vacation off from books. But nothing is impossible if you are determined for it. In the midst of non-stop talks and his cuteness, we reached the summit.
No, I didn’t fall for him in that way if u r wondering what happened later between us. Reaching the summit I could now clearly see the snow mountain and definitely the springly flowing river around the campsite. Definitely, the dogs did follow us, but they didn’t bark this night. After having lunch at the campsite, few of us left for another ascent of 3kms to reach the Ruinsara lake. I had a severe headache while ascending for the lake but when we reached the peak at 12675ft, it all vanished with the beauty of the Swargrohini mountain. It was pretty much cold near the lake and with a little of snow fall and hailstones, the lake welcomed us.
After taking a few pictures and videos and viewing the snow caps we descended back towards the campsite. Also, Lord Shiva has his peak at the summit after which the trek was named. The day has its own story not because I made it to the summit but also because I met Nihal-the Bombay guy. In the evening, my friend introduced us to a new trekker who was solo trekking not by choice but because the other members of the group cancelled the plan last moment. After discussing breakup stories, the trek group got closer and we were playing pass the pillow with ridiculous questions. I being the most talkative tried to make Nihaal comfortable so that he don’t feel alone and like a intruder. Of the Truth questions I remember I was asked- “Whom among the guys would I ask out?” Definitely Nihaal being the most charming one slipped out of my tongue. Love at first sight. Even he was over a breakup 8months ago and so was I. Nihaal was interrogated on his turn- “What would u respond to her proposal?” He responded bit positively that he won’t say a no but won’t be in a hurry to say yes before he knows me. Luv was dared to propose a girl in romantic way. Luv & romance haha! But he tried to by pulling over my woollen cap, muffler, hand gloves, and trying to undress. He cannot be anymore romantic. When asked what is he gonna do after the trek- “he is gonna block me.” The game continued with a new aspect out of everyone and the soup was ready.
Later, we were served Hot jalebis in such cold weather by the TTH team. Nihaal didn’t come after dinner though he mentioned to return back. He remembers me from the first day of trek as the girl with open flawing short hairs, a pink tee and charming eyes as he mentioned later. We did play cards for a while and slept early as it was getting cold. The stream of river was pleasant the entire night.
Day 5: Har ki Dun to Pauni garaat via Osla
The best morning of the trek with a view of snow capped mountains and Nihaal in the opposite tent site. I was stalking him during the entire duration of packing the campsite. Though I didn’t approach him, not to sound clingy. After starting to descend the rabbits were on their pace, though they waited more to be with the team. I started to descend with my pace, the guy with grey t-shirt, dslr on his back, earphones in his ears, big black eyes and wavy hairs passed. Yes! He was Nihaal. And he didn’t recognize me at first. It was dark and rainy in the kitchen tent last day and he first saw me untanned with open hairs and no spectacles. He might have been confused. I waved at him which he didn’t curtail with earaphones. Suddenly, he took his earphones off and waved me back questioning- “Tu Aakanksha hai na,” I was fascinated that he didn’t recognize me as it is pretty difficult to forget my prominent face. We enjoyed each others company and kept on talking for 3 hours started to know each other. The trek group especially Luv already started to tease us. You know how your friends react when you get to be with your crush. Apart from this, I actually was blushing the entire time I was with him. He is cute and charming. But then the most toxic thing happened- “PERIODS.” I asked a female trekker to accompany
me and Luv to distract Nihaal. I didn’t want him to know about this because of the swings. Even Nihaal was among the rabbits. He ran and I couldn’t catch him till the evening. I never blamed my periods more. The most amazing lunch time of the trek in which we played “Pass the message” and dance. I always love to watch people dance as I cannot I am poor dancer. A South Indian fellow trekker danced beautifully with back dancers none but Luv and Ashu bhaiya. They dance horrible but it was entertaining.
I started walking at a pace and with no breaks. Probably because I had mood swings and menstrual cramps, I scolded Luv and I asked him to maintain a distance. It was a long day but I was actually excited to meet Nihaal again. Later, I realized I shouldn’t have scolded Luv and because of me he is keeping his pace slow, which wasn’t true. Walking through the village Osla, it was a steep descent. Among other relices of an interesting past, the Duryodhana temple in the village Osla deserves a mention here. It is closed for the entire year. The people mentioned that it opens only once in a year on an occasion. The scenic beauty of the nature and the capturing smiles of the kids of Osla relieved the path.
We reached the camp around 5. The weather was pleasant for the evening snacks, though I didn’t eat. The first thing I did reaching the camp was throw my backpack and search for Nihaal who reached the camp in his speed at 12:30. Later, he mentioned he ran because he was hungry and his food was with the trek leader. The girls teased my blush as Nihaal was getting closer to me. I did mention him about how I scolded Luv to which he responded that I cannot be a part because I know you only because of Luv. I was surprised and did mention him that its not some huge fight. It was a huge day full of games and love. Nihaal is a chronic smoker and one may predict this by the brownish color of his lips. He took me to the riverside where we sat quietly in the beauty of nature for a while. In the mid, Luv reached. I just hugged him and assured that it is all the mood swings. He was walking slow because he had blisters in his feet- he laughed.
Thanks to TTH who served us Gulab Jamuns and delicious food in the mountains. Also I was not sure of what actually was happening to me with regard to Nihaal but there was something attractive about him. While others were playing dumb charades in the kitchen tent, I asked Nihaal to accompany me to the river for watching the stars. Fortunate enough, we got a view of the moon for a while in the middle of the mountains. He captured a few of stars while the river was streaming with flow. It was quiet and pleasant though we couldn’t hear anything with the heavy flow of river. We later joined the team for dumb charades. After a while of playing, we went to sleep. That night as I remember he said- “Good Night” he actually didn’t wish to leave. I could sense it from his face staring at mine. Luv accompanied me in the tent that night too and definitely I gave him a little massage till we fall asleep. I was into a anxiety that till Nihaal didn’t make any move. I was confused- “Whether he is really interested in me.?” That thought was in my mind the entire night.
Day 6: Pauni Garaat to Sankri
We packed up our last campsite to finish the trek. Nihaal joined the rabbits and Luv with his blisters kept walking at a slow pace. Initially, I kept walking in the mid way between but later on thought to accompany Luv. I was way silent this entire day enjoying the scenic view of the mountains. I felt a bit low, knowing the mountains are going to be over soon. This was a mesmerizing journey. We the entire team joined hands in hands and helped each other throughout. I had lunch in a river view with Luv and the silence that the mountains gifted me. We finished the trail mid afternoon. A bolero was waiting from taluka to take us back to the base camp.
Nihaal also joined us to the base camp. He was afraid of heights and so was holding it really tight sitting over the roof of the vehicle. While, I was carefree and enjoying the drive. With every fall my hairs were falling upon his face and I kept on smiling as I rested a bit over his shoulders. He reached his room and we to the TTH guest houses. With lost of adventure, fun & friends, the trek started to take us back to reality. In the evening, we had shower. Before that the notorious Luv already made me bath with a bucket of water. After losing a towel and a trekpant to the mountains, I realized I need to be more responsible. Later in the evening, we got certificates of achievement from the TTH team and also we shared the best of the memories of the entire trek. We shared all the snacks left with us and played dumb charades. Nihaal joined us for a while. I was allotted a single room. As I was moving to sleep, he scared me by spontaneously coming from downstairs. Oh! We are going together along with 2 other trek mates to rishikesh. He came because he didn’t have any of our contact numbers. I asked him to stay and that Luv can share with me but he refused. As he had his backpack at his campsite and he had to leave early with a local bus. I tried to get every bit of the mountains but that night these mountains scared me. I tried to sleep alone while the guys were smoking but I couldn’t. Something was scaring me. Luv wanted to spend the last night with the guys but I insisted him to accompany me. We chit chatted for a while and felt asleep.
Day 7 : Sankri to Dehradun
In two vehicles, we separately started moving back to reality. The journey was bit exhausting and I was more sleep deprived, so I preferred sleeping the entire way. In the euphoria of mountains, and beautiful memories, we hugged each other and waved off as soon as we reached dehradun. Reality usually hits hard after returning from such dreamy places.
As soon as we reached dehradun, the other two fellows cancelled their plans for Rishikesh. But always a adventure loving person I joined Nihaal to Rishikesh. As it was Sunday, Rishikesh hostels were quite booked for the night, we hardly found a place for the night- the wayfarers. We had dinner at the hostelier with the beauty of ganga. After watching a movie and few episodes of Mr.beans that night, Nihaal went to the terrace to smoke and I almost slept. Later, I enjoyed the silence from the terrace of the wayfarers. You must be wondering about the last night? No, nothing happened that night. We had a calm sleep. Nihaal turned to be gentleman. Next morning we went for rating and I had a view of the Ganga aarti. He took care of me the next day till I boarded in the bus for Delhi as I had a flight back next morning.