“THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING!!” I texted in my trekkers group when the trekking season in Himalayas was about to end. The boredom of sitting in library all day long and tension of university exams were only pulling me down .I was in a mood for a break, free from studies and was almost uncertain of positive reply. To my surprise my fellow Himalayan trekker Adithya replied, “AND WE MUST ANSWER IT”.Thus, began our planning for the next Himalayan trek.
We mapped the entire Himalayan range starting from west with famous trek points in and around Manali to eastern Himalayas around Sikkim.Manali was already visited while Sikkim was at its peak of tourism and crowd was something we were not looking for ward to,so we chose to visit the Land of Holy Ganges–Uttarakhand where the trek season has just subsided. The trek to Mysterious Roopkund Lake was planned and in shear excitement itinerary was chalked out in less than a week. With a plan to go in a smaller group, out of curiosity we reached out to our friends Kevin and Ankit, who had never trekked in the Himalayas and were ready to join us.The four of us had no idea that this would turn out to be most memorable trip of our lives..
Being a sudden plan,we some how managed to book train tickets to Delhi and bought sleeping bags and tents and other necessary items as we chose not to go with a trekking company.To start off the trip,Ankit lost half of his luggage and missed his train,yet with great enthusiasm he managed to catch us up in Delhi by traveling in General compartment in next train.Two hours apart,all four of us were finally at New Delhi station, checked in our luggage at cloak room to explore the Capital City handsfree. Night ended with live Sufi and Bollywood music.Took our backpacks and ran to catch our bus to Himalayas.
From foothills of mighty Himalayas–RISHIKESH we covered over 250KMs of roller coaster ride in state transport bus for over 12 hours with almost no seat inside bus where we did not sleep and finally reached our trek base village of LOHAJUNG.After all the ups and downs to start of trip we finally woke up to sunrise over the snow clad Mt.TRISHUL at far range.It was simply breathtaking.It was one of those moments when your mind freezes,no thoughts come to you,you are mesmerized by its beauty.We had our first authentic Pahadi food,packed our backpacks and took a small jeep ride in off–trail road to reach last village–WAN.We stocked up groceries and other essentials from village market along with our cook–Kunwar Singh(A melodious singer and our morning alarm)and guide– Kali(Our pseudo Sherpa)from Nepal and set our foot on mountains to summit Roopkund where we met our last team member and companion–The Himalayan Dog, BABA(as we named it).
The walk through the forest was beautiful and by no means easy considering it was day1.The terrain was fairly steep,first climbing down till Neel Ganga
River and then steeply uphill to Gairoli Patal. It offers picturesque views of the greenery clad mountains.Day 2 started walking through the woods to Ali Bugyal–a very scenic meadow and has brilliant views of the Himalayas.From Ali Bugyal, we started our walk to wards our campsite for the night:Bedini Bugyal.
Enroute Bedini Bugyal we also encountered a few more rare birds including the State Bird-Himalayan Monal.The evening brought another wonderful and peaceful sunset.TheTrishul peak seemed closer, meaning we were closing in on the final destination.
The summit day finally arrived with 3AM start for the guide and cook and 3.30AM wakeup call for the lazy trekkers.At-2°C we sipped in mix of hot tea and coffee, packed for summit and left tents at 4:00AM.Under a million stars and moon less sky we started climbing with a guiding light to each person.A treacherous climb of 1500 feet to Kelva Vinayak with only artificial lights to show the way.The negative temperature freezing our feet inside double layered socks and shoe made the climb slow and steady. As Adithya reached Kelva Vinayak temple,he rang the morning bell to give us the much needed push in the freezing climate, letting us know the climb is almostover.Early morning blessings from Ganpati Bappa pushed us for next 5KMs trek in snow to make the summit to mighty ROOPKUND.Next 2KMs walk was on the fresh snow to Bhagwa basa(the house of snow leopards).Their pug marks could be seen at regular intervals on the snow and we were pretty much sure that the cat family had an eye on us. As we reached final camp before summit still awaiting sunrise we were completely frozen out and were hardly able to move further.We met a group of professional mountaineers who treated us with small campfire and a cup of hot tea to recharge us for final summit push.The sunrise was casting a shadow over the Earth’s horizon, just the way I like my sunrises. As we saw the sun rays kiss the peak of mountains at far range we started a final summit push to Roopkund. A 3km walk in fresh snow along with surprise visit from herd of Himlayan Bharals brought us to base of Roopkund. The next 500ft was the most challenging part of trek. Steep rocky climb,thin air,extreme difficulty to breathe slowed us down to great extent.Small baby steps with 100 breathe to each step finally brought us to Roopkund just in time when the Sun was about tos tart to throw its light over the lake.We first rang the bell at the Shiva temple and I performed the morning Aarti and then walked into the deep dry lake to scout for the skeletons of lost Human civilization.Extremely fascinated with the mysteries of lake and adrenaline rush to summit one of
The most difficult treks fired us up to start with our descent with no tiredness whatsoever. This adrenaline rush filled us up with so much energy that we descended straight back to first camp of trek in just half a day.
With along sleep over night, we started for Wan village late in morning the next day.We reached Wan by late afternoon and spent the evening exploring the village giving a glimpse into the daily life of people living in the area through interesting conversations with complete strangers.It has been one of the
Factors that brings me back to Uttarakhand from time to time.The locals engage you in their conversations and make you feel as part of them in no time.The hospitality and welcoming nature of the local people is just fantastic;Uttarakhand always will have a very special place in my heart.
We spent the night in the pleasant and calm village home stay along with the most delicious home cooked food.Next morning,we started our journey back to the city life in the long tiring roller coaster bus ride.We were welcomed at Rishikesh
Although I was the only girl in group,my parents did trust my intuitions and also kind-hearted people in Mountains always made me feel safe. Climbing Mountain was like meditation to my soul.I became more confident and passionate. They taught me to never give up.I have realized,Mountains are best teachers of life with no classrooms. Unknowingly the lakes and Mountains have become my landscape,my real life and my second home and I just can’t wait to go back home where I belong.
Cause,”MOUNTAINS KEEP CALLING ME “and I will have to” ANSWER THEM”.