Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter Adventure to Kuari pass - Joshimath to Chitrakhana (Day 2)

December 15, 2013

<< Winter Adventure - Kuari Pass Trek (Day 1) Chitrakhana to Tali top (Day 3) >>

After a pretty patchy sleep I was awakened by the sound of “Bed-tea”. It felt like heaven to be
served the tea right on the bed while you are still trying to find a perfect warm spot inside your blanket. I was up quickly as most of the time I was worried about completing morning chores rather than completing my sleep. I decided to take a small walk around the place to see if I could get few good photographs, as the sun was just out and the entire landscape was slowly getting lit by soft morning light. Distant snow clad mountain peaks slowly turned golden reflecting the morning light and this sight left me spell bound.

Sun kissed peaks turn golden during morning hour


Joshimath village being lit by sun

An hour later we embarked our journey which started with a 20 minutes drive to Dhak village from where we started on foot. The view of snow clad Drona Giri peak left me amazed and i was just wondering what would it take to reach there and what would it feel to be there.

With such a scenic view in front of us we hiked with great enthusiasm and constantly chatting and praising the beauty of the Himalayas and that how fulfilling it is to start your day in lap of nature as compared to starting your day in a dingy office cubicle.

Starting point of the trek

Sunlight piercing through canopy

Just about 20 minutes into the hike and slowly all the chatter slowed down, almost vanished and most of us who had started together were now separate by almost 10-20 yards, and all I could hear is loud thumping of my heart and sound of heavy breathing. “Welcome to the Himalayas”, I said to myself.

One thing that I have realized during this trek is that even though you start off with your friends, at some point you will be all along, completely by yourself, probably talking to yourself or motivating yourself to take a step forward and that is the beauty of any trek. You get plenty of time to spend with your self which otherwise is so difficult in regular course of life.

For a first time trekker like me, especially the poor kind of physical fitness that I have, it was a real challenge to do those steep ascents and that too carrying the 5 kg backpack of mine with a half kg camera slung around my neck.

This will be a good time to take a detour and to mention a bit about carrying your own backpack. Especially for hikes across the Himalayas at an altitude where even a speck of dust might seem like burden carrying a backpack which is almost 5-8 kgs is a real challenge. Most of the trekkers prefer to carry their bags, but if you are of my kind (read it - first timer and not extremely fit) then make sure that your bag is extremely light. Anything more than 2-3 kg is going to kill your shoulder. If you have too many things to carry than better opt for a mule or porter who can carry your bags.

Coming back to my hike, I had no option but to lug my bag pack. Slowly and steadily stopping for breath every 20-30 steps I kept moving.

Today's trek was mostly assent. We started from Dhak village and were supposed to reach Chitrakhana (campsite) by 2 PM. Total distance of the hike was about 4-6 km and the gain in altitude was 700mts.  We climbed up moving from one village to another and I wondered how those local people survived at this altitude and under such harsh conditions. When passing through one such village I struck a conversation with a local lady.  During the conversation I found out that most of the people here are self sufficient, they grow their food and many of them resort to cattle grazing to make their living. The slopes that we were scaling for thrill was something that they scale daily to earn their living. No wonder they were so fit, at some places I saw women who were well past 60-65 yrs and still carrying huge loads of wood on their back and whizzed past us.

Soon we left all the villages behind and now all we came across was occasional uninhabited house. The climb got steeper and the only way to encounter it was to walk diagonally to avoid putting too much of strain. My body had already given up and now its just the mind that was taking me forward. I was getting super hungry. A bar of snickers in my pouch came to rescue. Few of the fit trekkers were way ahead and seeing their tiny figures makes me feel that there is still  much ground to cover. After about half hour I lost their sight as i reached an overhanging cliff. I thought that I have lost the trail and frantically searched for any shoe marks and gave a loud call in case someone is near by. “Good. Good. Good.”, is what I hear. Its our trek leader. This fills me with a rush of energy and I almost race towards the direction from where I hear the sound. In no time I see bunch of colorful tents and fellow trekkers resting. Phew, I made it. At the end of the hike we were at the altitude of 3100 Mts.

The campsite side was an amazing place, which gave a panoramic view of all the peaks of Gharwal, Nanda devi peak being the tallest of all. Getting the shoes off those stiff legs, laying down under the sun and gazing at the towering Himalayas is an experience that I am unable to pen down in words. You have to be there to experience it. By 3.30 - 4 PM we settled down and now had absolutely nothing to do. Well its hard to imagine that after 3.30 in afternoon you have absolutely nothing to do till bed time. No emails to reply, no status checks, no phone rings to answer….

View of our camp site

Sun was going down behind the mountain peaks quickly and it was getting a lot colder. We all started gathering dry wood to feed the bon-fire. In coming few days collecting firewood became a regular chore after the hike was over. Suddenly you realize how important these simple elements like fire, flowing water are.

Relaxing  and keeping warm with bonfire

For most of the days we would retire to our tents by 9.30 PM but sleep was hard to come by. After a tough hike one would imagine to have a good sound sleep, but that was not to be. Trek leaders had mentioned that it was common not to get sound sleep as body is not accustomed to getting sleep at higher altitude.

<< Winter Adventure - Kuari Pass Trek (Day 1) Chitrakhana to Tali top (Day 3) >>


  1. Looks like you had a great time.
    Great photos and narrative.

    1. Yes Anoopji it was a unique experience.
      Thanks for your encouraging comments.


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