Roopkund Trek:Oct 2014
A small child of 8th standard around 11:30 PM was jammed alone in front of his black and white TV set. Surrounding was dark, night was quite cold and silenced disturbed due to some occasional snoring by his father’s sleep. Something amazing was going on in the mind and on the screen. It was a documentary running on a single TV channel DD one named “Everest”. And great mathematician of the time Rajnath Sikhdhar was calculating the height of Everest with some unorthodox approach. Program finished, boy slept and next day in spite of scold a question of his father: how height of Everest was calculated? He answered and this thing got finished as a simple talk. But things in mind got preserved and started to taken shape.
One day I was turning the pages of the Sunday times during my 12th standard and got an full page article about “Sherpas of Nepal”. I read it and came to know about the book from it was taken named “Tehnzing and the Sherpas of Everest.” Written by Tenzing Nagray’s grandson Tashi Tenzing. After this, approx 12 years, when I posted in Delhi Secretariat as “Group B” officer in central government service, in the month May I was strolling between the selves of central library and suddenly stopped at a point, pulled the book out and it was that which I was searching, “Tehnzing and the Sharps of Everest”. It was my first book to read about adventure and its general methodologies. Later I read many book, and a natural effect was that a small dream of adventure was started to take shape in some corner of heart.
I started to focus some kind of activity which I can enjoy for a long time with some adventures having some natural bliss, forests, meadows, deserts, rains, lakes, mountains, ice and cold, all kind of innate objects for which a person can prepare and later can enjoy its reflected charisma.
I started to plan in the month of May 2014, contacted “Trek the Himalayas” but fortunately no seats were available. (Later I realized I was not in good shape that time).
Finally in the month of August 2014, I contacted my 2-3 friends, contain some similar kind of taste, but denied to go. I decided to go alone, just as a blind date, was sure to meet some most amazing group having same passion and interest. I booked the schedule with TTH of 2-9 Oct, booked train tickets from Delhi to Kathgodam and most important, started to search proper stuff to wear and carry, thanks Decathlon Sports India for that.
Sahil , the first person, contacted on gmail to whereabouts and show willingness to share some prior info on Whatapp, but I could not joined the discussion.
On the night of 1st Oct I zipped up and departed from Delhi to Kathgodam,My train reservation didn’t confirmed so took bus from Anand Vihar to Haldwani. Reached here at 4:00 AM and at 5:00 AM I was at Kathgodam Railway station.Called Rajat ,the driver whose contact was given by TTH, and he gave another number of a driver.
Meet the man and meet another driver Umesh Bhatt from Rishikesh.And I came to know I am the first person to reach Kathgodam.Around 6 a couple,Rakesh and Saumita, reached. They were already here one day before and visited Nanital and nearby places before heading towards Roopkund. Four young,energetic and enthusiastic school mates was second group from Pune came by Ranikhet Express.Then Two more couples Pritam Bhattacharya and Pooja Mishra from west Bangal and Amit Aggarwal and Nikita Gupta from Delhi reached Kathgodam around 7:30.Vishwa, from Kerala, was the last person arrived at 8:20.
First Day: Kathgodam to Loharjung(02/10/2014):Introduction with mountains
So all 12 equipped with hope,energy,enthuism and with some strange feelings, drifted slowly with two vehicles under open, clear blue sky.
Stopped next to Ranibagh for breakfast and resumed travel again after 20 minutes.
Now we where in under the hood of Shivalik ranges of majestic Himalaya. Curves where sharp like hair pin band and air was so humble like the thoughts of a child, soft but tensed. Crosses smoothly Bhimtal-Bhawali-Almora and reached Kausani at 3:00 PM. Lunched here and move again.Now luster of sky was slowing down and nip was in the air. Touched Garud- a valley famous for its cultivation, Gwaldam- a silent hill station, and Dewal. Reached Loharjung at 6:30 PM with darkness of the day.
Loharjung Base Camp
We all were allocated rooms and called for a gathering at 7:30.We get refreshed having tea, snacks.And on time grouped and meet here at base the most generous man and founder of TTH, Sandeep Rawat. We briefed by base manager Dinesh about what to do and not to do, little about trails and halts and about conditions to eliminate a candidature of a hiker. Chandar Negi was announced as trek lead and Mahaveer was the local guide. Submitted our fitness certificated and Id proof copy to Chandar Negi before dinner. Meanwhile I purchased a poncho with other guys from local market.
Pritam had done some experiment with long exposure night shot. Diner enjoyed with the jokes of Bear Spray, and its usages and effects on human and on bears before and after spray 🙂 .
Meet here the owner of lodge, an army man retired in 1990, who has been savoring his life here with introduction of the courage and seeking ability of every new hiker.
Second Day: Loharjung to Didna(03/10/2014):
Debut of Trail
Night at Loharjung was good, got a sound sleep and woke up at 4:30. At 05:30 was out of room. Sky was cloudy and the village we had to go was visible approx a displacement of 5 km
Taken a solid and energetic breakfast of Parantha and Daliya as I desired. We all gathered for a photo shoot and then departed with energetic stride.
I seek some divine blessings and touched the trail; it was very humble showing affection as a horde. Initial trail descended for around 2.5 km till a halt at an open pasture having some cattle with few shepherd boys.Clicked here some pics and departed again for 1 more Km till Raun Bagad.
Here is a bridge over Neel Ganga. Onwards for approx 2 km we ascended a steep slope with some fun of having some fresh Pahadi Peaches broken form trees. In between encountered an running stream of water filled our bottles with natural mineral water.
Reached Didna at 2:30.
It is a Himalayan village having 15-20 scattered houses in between fields surrounded by thick green forest area. This time having crops ready to cut.
Finished mango juice as an energizer and soon had lunch. As a initial acclimatizer played carom-board and went for a walk with Pritam, Amit, Nikita and Pooja with Negi in a near by tents in an open forage surrounded by oak trees has some tents pitched by other agency.
It was now nipping in the air. Turned back for tea and then had hot soup. Meet here some local guys working with TTH name as : Laxman bisht, Ram Singh and Kundan Singh.Kundan recently completed his polytechnic from Uttarkashi told it took 2 days to reach his college from here.
Had an excellent dinner and some night photography lessons with Pritam and slept at 7:30.
Third Day: Didna to Ali Bugyal(04/10/2014):Mensuration of Caliber
Wake up at 1:30AM and after that a complete sleepless night. Was out at 2:30 and with beam of torch saw Vishwa was struggling with some constipation. In morning he had medicine from Negi, I assured if it would worsen I have medicine, and soon he felt well. Around 5:00 went in Kitchen Room and had hot water and Lemon Tea.
Here I saw the generosity and commitment of the guys, were preparing our breakfast with help of their head torches, a most hidden truth and backbone of every one hiker’s success. That’s why after conquering Everest Col. John Hunt(team lead of whole Expeditio) also decorated with Tenzing and Hillery.
Got an excellent breakfast of chapatti–aalojeera, corn flex with milk and honey, a super combo. And accelerated for a longest stretch of the trek at 7:45 AM.
The initial ascent was moderate till Tolpani and soon were in the itinerary of lush and thick green trees.
Soil was quite numb and wet; it seems had a rain shower few hours before. Took some rest near the huts here and resume the pace.
It was now a very steep ascent and just in a basic fleece jacket I was started sweating. It was a round of deep breathing and gulping water but best thing everyone was moving. Pooja was leading the trail, some time alone, a bereavement of enthusiasm. Trail was under thick grassy oak forest with mostly slippery conditions.
Pritam gave medicine of toothache to a porter of another trekking company and soon catch up our trail. At 12:30 PM we all were out of tree line and also from steep ascent.
Gathered here in a open section of large meadow in deep mist on wet ground and Negi called for lunch and distributed to each one Eggs, chapatti with aalo jeera. All stuff was cold and without base support of plates but no one complain.
This is the beauty of Himalaya,it absorbs all pain and engulfed every corner of mind in its scenic behavior. Rested here for almost 30 minutes and slowly forwarded on rest of journey of the day and as per Negi it is now a direct forward straight trail towards Ali camp site through sloppy section of great Himalayan Bugyals name Ali Bugyal.Best part was so far that everyone was in good shape and enjoying. I was in last during this section of trail with Rakesh,Saumita and Mahaveer and shortly reached Ali Camp site.
This site is at relatively lower section from actual path having some tents pitched on a little slope and with a fiber hut. This small night shelter was completely safe from any strong wind as it was surrounded with two big sections of hills having a protection from back side. A natural water source was available nearby.
I concluded in mind that who ascended so far, easily will do Junargali.
Got lemon water and soon lunch of Khichdi. And due to mild headache I took a nap of 1 hour. Then gave medicine to Vishwa for constipation and also took one due to headache.
Now as I came out of tent, people were gathered on back side of tents on a edge and pointed towards downside. I joined them and saw a peacock like bird was grazing there. It was Monaal-State bird of Uttarakhand. I rushed and took camera and went behind him .
It was very hard to took a good pic but managed.Returned back in tents and enjoyed Pakode-Chai levied with hot chili.
It was now decided to have a bone fire in night. So its time to collect wood from jungle-a small process to get acclimatize. Collected a well stuff of dry lobs-woods and lit them with carocin.
And now a song session started with some folk songs resembles all our purpose here and converted easily intoAntakshri.Pune guys rocked. Pritam as usual was on its photography skills and took some good shots.
And soon all called for a dinner of Bhindi,Paneer and Kheer.
Pritam resumed his task and took some long exposure shots with tents and mount Trishul in north east direction as the veil of clouds allows us to see the glimpse of Trishul.
It was quite chilling outside.
It was my first night in tents and sleeping bags and I think of most of us.
Fourth Day: Ali Bugyal to Patal nachuni(05/10/2014):Easy but Effective
I woke up at 2:30 AM, but could not dare to come out, but at 4:30 was out of tent. Weather was clear and we were on upper edge taking pics of an visible section of mount trishul illuminated in morning sun rays but soon it get faded.
All took a first time high altitudes bask in morning sun.
Taken a breakfast of Chole Bhature and Daliya. Started a long trek, though simple, at 8:30 AM .It was an initial section around 1000 ft to climb up and then it was simple relatively straight.
After 3 Km we reached other side of ridge and on upper section of Bedni Bugyal and Bedni kund was clearly visible from here.Every view was stunning.
Nanda Ghunti was playing hide and seek with cloud’s flakes. Here onwards trail was now misty and temperature started decline.
Here on the trail I meet a 6 year old gild from Kolkata with her parents and completed Roopkund. Quite surprising but truth. It boost up enthusiasm and elevate morale of everyone.
In the way no one want to loss any single chance of recreation.
Easily Reached Ghora Lotani where all team had taken rest and some were waiting for us.Now Pritam and I were last in the easy section of today’s journey. We clicked some more pics, discussed some facts about Himalaya.
Patal Nachuni is seems a hollow section, surrounded from 3 side by small hills and felt it secure from strong winds. On one side of it a hilly section having very large stone boulders signify the stories in Hindu legends about the nachaunis(dancers).
TTH again placed their tents on relatively more secured place with complete availability of water. Some other agencies placed their tents. At a lower section India Hikes pitched their tents but far from water availability. Meet here a smiling guy Deepu working here as a cook. I really fascinate how they work here on such an elevation of 12000 ft without any sign of monotonicity.
Had lunched and took medicine to fade headache. Took some steps with teammates nearby to get acclimatize.
Here a small canteen decorated by Negi’s father and offered Maggi, tea and Omlett.
At 5 PM got tea. Around 5:30 it’s started dark and this small valley section start engulfed in dense haze.
At 7:30 it was dinner and soon every one rested in their tents. I tried to sleep in the expectation for a nice sleep.
Fifth Day: Patal Nachauni to Bhagwabash(06/10/2014):New Elevation
Woke up at 2:30 AM and didn’t manage to sleep rest of night. At 5:30 come out.
It was a clear weather but was good chilling and frost was on tents and nearby objects. Eastern side an unknown peak was visible. After took warm water from mesh I walked few meters upward to hill and completely thrilled what I have seen. I called all the team mates but only few manage to come out. Magestic Chaukhamba, Hathighoda and Mount Nilkhanth were shining in cuprous color in the morning sun light.
The day started with goose bumps.
At 7:30 having breakfast and departed for most odious trail so far.Rakesh and wife had fever and it seem some initial condition of AMS(Acute Mountain Sickness).They choose to stay here. This was a good decision and I appreciate them they followed hiking ethics.In my opinion here should be given one more day to get use to of altitude.
Today morning I meet another person of TTH team Billu Negi from Tehri Garhwal.A solid and highly zippy person.
At 10:30 we all reached Kalu Vinyak. A small ancient temple of Ganesh ji.Took bless and rest for 15 minutes here. From this side whole Ali and Bedni Bugyal was visible on one side and other side Mount Nanda Ghunti and Trishul were looming from high. Our tents at Bhagwabasha were also visible.
Nanda Ghunti and Trishul from Kalu Vinayak
Now it was a sloppy and very simple trail. I was thinking if Rakesh and wife manage to come so far it was simpler for them to walk here, I also discuss this issue at Bhagwabasa during lunch and tried to convene Negi to take them up with help of horse, but he decline from every corner.
At 11:30 we reached at Bhagwabasha throught a trail which was managed to built between stones and boulders. This site was completely a rocks bound area but relatively flat. Our tents were also pitched over the same rocks and those were our tonight beds .
Took lunch at 12 noon. I suffered some headache and took some rest. Inside tent it was so warm that I was sweating. At 2:00 PM went nearby area and make plan to go some near by area for acclimatization after tea. At 4:00 had tea-samosha. Everyone enjoyed surprised to see such refreshment.
But outside it was different story. Weather stared to getting worse and some snowflakes began to fall . And soon it becomes storm like condition. Very soon snowfall was on its full swing. Everything was covered with white. This was the thing can be expected in this season only at such altitude.
Around 5:30 its cooled down. Around 6:00PM we received very hot soup which was a good relief in this cold. At 7:00 it was dinner and planned to depart at 4:30 in next morning. Soon it was another spell of snowfall. This time it was more intense shook our tents to remove snow. But it faded as it came and weather cleared soon. Every object was plunged in thick white layer. Now nearby peaks were shining in moonlight as a marble white. Pritam took some long exposure shots, though it was very cold outside. All were excellent.
We packed our bags with few necessary things and drifted in sleep for a beautiful next day.
Sixth Day: Bhagwabash to Roopkund-Junargali-Patal Nachauni (07/10/2014): Acclaimed
I wake up at 12:30 AM and then could not sleep. At 3:05 AM came out of tent. Majestic Trishul and Nandaghunti where looming and shining with full bloom under the hanging twinkling stars under crystal clear sky in moon light, this was a day before Full moon.
For warm water directly went to kitchen hut. And the kitchen guys were filling a large pot with icy chilled water to make it usable to drink and to cook.
At 3:45 a voice embarked in chilling dark for a breakfast, and all were present. Took 2 cup of soup and black tea with maggi and at 4:30 we all departed to Roopkund with refreshment of chocolates ,apple, biscuits and cookies along with our headlamps and torch. And it seemed that all are injected with some magic and launched for a mission mode project. Ttrail was covered with yesterday evening snow but was not slippery.
Around 5:30 AM at approx distance of 3 Km trail was now visible with mix glare of ice and dawn. Till Nagcheda(a tricky section of stone steps) trail was easy. There after a steep way started to crawl towards up and my lungs were now on full dig. Negi bhai started to sought “Aa gayaa Roopkund bus thodaa aur Jawanaao…”,this was his usual trick as a guide to elevate spirit. It started some headache to me. At 7:00 AM with morning light we reached Roopkund.
It was fresh snow all around and stops here for 15 min. Negi told that Junargali is your choice I will not force anyone and all nodded for that.
It was a patchy trail and quite steep, though some technicality at the end. All were reached one by one gasping for thin air but ultimately did it. Sun was out from the shadow and mount Trishul and mount
A strange feeling run in veins that some special goal get achieved, I think it was a form of relaxation, a sigh for achieving a new height of mental toughness. Everyone took individual and group pictures. One group picture also with TTH banner.
Spent there almost 15 minutes and slowly returned back to Roopkund.
Descending this time was quite challenging.
Some other hikers were now coming from the down. A TTH guy from the base was waiting there for us with morning breakfast of daliya and biscuits.
It was like eating on the graveyard. But in cold nothing was in mind.
Soon we departed and now a rhythm started of “All the best…good luck….congratulations…did u make Junargali…?…well done…..”. It gave a new vitality and a sense of achievers.
Trail was now become wet and dangerous due to melting ice. At 10:30 I was in tent at Bhagwabasa followed by Vishwa and lay in tent for 15 minutes for an unsuccessful map. Whole team was now there and someone sought for lunch and final pack up as other batch was coming. But didn’t take lunch due to headache and vomit like conditions. Started at 12:00 to descent and want to get down as soon as possible and soon noticed Pritam was following me. At 12:25 we were both at Kaluvinayak.
Bowed and thanks to Kaluvinayak for our success and wait for 10 minutes for all the team and soon started down. As on steep descent it was an atmosphere of thunderstorm and it start falling some droplets. And before its rain at 1:45 me and Vishwa were in tents. Asked whereabouts of Rakesh and was fine. Taken some hot water and slept a sound sleep till 6 PM. Took tea and soup, headache was fine.
Clicks some surrounding snaps in twilight .
Around 7:30 it was dinner. Me, Vishwa, and four Pune guys played cards for some time and then drifted in tents to recharge for next day’s 15 KM journey.
It was a one of the best days of my life. A day for which I can feel to be lifted on a new higher level.
Patalnachauni to Loharjung(08/10/2014): Sum up Memories
I got a nice sleep first time since 3rd day, a complete sleep, got up at 3:30 just for a natures call.Sky was cloudy from eastern side. Again slept and woke up at 5:30.Got tea, warm water.Had taken some nearby pics and packed bag.Having brekfsst of macroni, cornflex, upma and milk and at 7:30 departed for a long journey to Loharjung at a displacement of 15 Km.
In the way taken shots of biding Nndghunti and Trishul.Say good bye to Ghora Lotani.At this moment a feeling of detachment echoed, don’t know why but it was strange.
Then a large and relatively lower meadow of Bedni Bugyal reflected the its enriched morning shine.But no one stopped himself to took behind to see his footmarks.
At bedni Kund we have taken rest and meet an old couple in their late 70’s from Kolkata.
Its shows even in this age a person can feel young due to these invisible calls from Mighty Himalaya which never get older or fades with passage of time.
Too some rest here , as common snapped here.
It was 10:30 we departed. It was now a gentle descent. As we entered in the tree line.
It was starting cloudy and some thunder noise. Meet lot of guys who started their trek from this side and wished them for summit. Had meet some IAS academy guys who were on their 10th grade trek.
At 7 KM we reached Gharoli Patal, a small resting place only with a single shop. As we just finished tea, it started downpour. Every one rushed for safety. But on a call for departing every one covered with safety gears of ponchos, poly and rain coats. Trail was now muddy and slippery. Every one slipped and negotiates with trails. It was decided all will be stopped at Neel Gang and will take lunch which we have carried, but due to heavy rain could not do so. Now from here a gentle ascent started and crossing 1.5 KM on reaching a ridge, now weather was quite fine.Took a shelter in a poly hut which was not in good condition. Everyone was shivering in cold. Have taken packed lunch of cold parantha, a boiled potato-egg with salt, but seems good as everyone was now habitual of this life in these 8 days, no one complained. At a small dhaabha had tea and resumed for rest of the trail. Now it was a simple descent through wan village.
As before I read some trekking blog and find that high altitude trekkers should avoid full moon time span.
I talked this already discussed issue with Pritam and we both accepted this surprising natural phenomenon.
Meet TTH’s base camp manager Dinesh who was in hurry towards Patalnachauni and want to off from tree line before dark to avoid any encounter with wild beasts, it was 4:20 PM at the moment.
At 4:30 every one was on road head at Wan.
I bowed down to thanks this mighty nature that preserved us, out of our dens, for this long duration and everyone was returned safe and sound without any single abrasion.
Taken a jeep ride and reached Loharjung within half an hour. Had off my drenched clothes and wet, muddy shoes out.Get refreshed and taken tea. At 7:30 PM there was a small briefing by Owner of TTH Sandeep Rawat,experience sharing,certificate distribution and feedback form submission. At 8:00 PM a dinner of Roti, daal,rice and sewayiyaan.It was one of the great hospitality of TTH that every one want to receive. I went back to other room as everyone was sitting and sharing thoughts, every face was glowing with some remarkable achievement even after a long day journey. Wished everyone goodnight and was back in my bed.
A strange memory of past days of trek was now floating in my mind. What I learned from this experience was totally different and exciting. It teaches me lot as a human, as a trekker and as a companion. It was a combination of my strength, my planning, my weaknesses, my preparations and more over that a successful start of dreams to roam in Himalayan beauty.
Loharjung to Kathgodam (09/10/2014): Leaving Footprints
As yesterday we have informed to be ready at 7:00 am to depart from here. Two SUVs were ready. We started at 7:30 only after a bed tea. At Dewaal changed the vehicle including luggage, but on the way rear tire got punctured, changed it and reached Gwaldam at 9:00 AM.Had a nice breakfast of chole–parantha–saomosha-tea and departed. Punctured type also prepared and loaded.
The beauty of Himalaya and Mount Trishul and Mighty Nandaghunti was in full bloom. Pritam took some snaps and all departed for forward journey. All the way these two peaks grace us throughout way. Roads infrastructure of Kumaun region is quite well than other Uttarakhand hilly area. Around 1:30 PM we passed through Almoda city. First time I have seen this city in its actual beauty and full grace. At 2:00 PM we decided took lunch near Khairna. Now second vehicle started to speed up and soon it was out of sight. I worried as my luggage was there and I have to change it at Bhawali. Later I came to know driver was speeding due to pickup of some other passengers for his return ferry. Even also escaped an accident to happen. This was the worst part of this whole 8 day journey though every thing was excellent.
All 4 Pune guys and Viwhwa went to Nainital and rest 7 (3 couples and me) went for a late lunch outside of Kathgodam station, it was 4:30.Sit there under open sky for 3 hours,retraced our previous day and planned for next future trails. Around 7:30 we packed dinner, had coffee, a group photo and went for train. After dinner of roasted chicken went for a sleep, a nice and sound sleep. At 3:00 AM wake up to check train location and come to know it is 45 min late. Reached at 4:45 at Old Delhi railway station. Say goodbye to Pritam, Pooja,Nikita and Amit. Took auto and for office time I was at room.
TTH managed it very well and they have a good mastery in this trek. Very nice smiling supporting staff. All are in their 20s. How much genuine they were in their work. This is the thing which I learned form them, “Generosity”. Many times I thought it’s just a game for us, just a recreation, but for them a earning, even a seasonal earning, but still they were smiling and happy. I realized they are the richest people who have decided the limitation of their content ness and are above from all material worlds. Really salute for them.
Awesome finish of a long preparation, a remarkable journey, an enjoyable event and life time first trekking schedule, a best batch of similar passion so far, and start of a new planning for next trek. I now was filled with more confidence with more elevated flavor.
Learned a lot about more Himalayan characteristics, seen its more shadows, realized my mistakes to not let them repeat next time and fulfilled a small childhood dream.
Had done some mistakes:
Didn’t wear thermal at PatalNachauni and loss lot of energy.
Fully covered my ear and nose at Bhagwabasa to escape chillness so reduces chance to get acclimatize.
On rainy day didn’t wear rain proof bottom and forget to tie high ankle laces so water seeped in shoes.
Forget to carry enough water for last day road journey resulting dehydration.
I some up a lot of memories and like Himalaya I manage to developed new relations forever with whom I have scaled every inch of such fascinated and wonderful trails, with mighty Himalaya, with TTH and with myself also. It was just a superb finish of an episode and hope lot will be take some extraordinary shape as this Himalayan trails,my inner zeal and desire.