Roopkund - III (Day 2 - Trek from Loharjung Pass to Didna Village)

10/12/2009 02:06:00 AM

Waking up in Garhwal Himalayas - the Abode of Gods. (Sep 29th, 2009)

Loharjung ~8500 ft in Garhwal, Uttarakhand, is one of the last tiny villages, along with Wan, Didna, and kulling, sutoli to name a few, from where you start your trek to Nanda devi Sanctuary, Roopkund Kuari pass, and/or Ronti Saddle. One of the preferred route to roopkund, loharjung, like any other village, believes in early to bed- early to rise philosophy (sleeps at 6:30PM or soon as it gets dark in valley). few shops for the daily supplies, sloppy step fields, cattles, the GMVN guest house, you can get mobile signals as well, in some areas of the village. most importantly, you can easily find guides and porters from this place to your journey onwards. Nanda ghunti (, one of the peak in Nanda devi Sanctuary, which lies in the outer rim of Nanda kot, is visible from here.

We wake up early not to miss the sunrise, and we ain't disappointed. blossoming flowers, A shy sun slowly coming from behind fresh green misty mountains , cool breeze and sunkissed Nanda Ghunti peak, a perfect morning to wake up to. it aint that cold a morning, and bathing in cold water, is in, after all, next 7-8 days, we have got too little or almost nil of those sort of chances. Me and Pavan climb 2- floor up to a small temple, and to get a good sunrise shots, which we most likely do. Around 7/7:30 we are all set with day packs and also ready for briefing session by Rajesh, our trek lead.

Trek to the golf course & Gyan Ganga Valley.

Last night we were joined by Kailash-Mansarovar group. that strengthen us up to 26, adding Mr. & Mrs Mukherji as well. Now in briefing session, we are introduced to our Head Guide Mahendra ji, are divided in to 3 batches, each with one rope leader and a sweeper. Mine is the first batch, and I have no idea, what has made Rajesh, designate me the rope - leader( ???). with the treks I have done in karnataka so far, I know I am the slowest of a lots . Very soon, we the first batch of 9 Trekkers, departs from Patwal guest house, with Gopal heading us to Didna.

Loharjung to Didna is approximately 12 km. the trick is you have to descend Gyan ganga/ Neel ganga/ Wan valley, all the way down to the river and then, climb up on the opposite, another very steep mountain to reach didna. Loharjung and Didna both, are almost at the same sea level. not knowing exactly how the terrain is going to be, I walk pretty cooly, crossing numerous streams, (they dont have names), and step fields and narrow bands. the trail, that starts from near bus stand loharjung is visible through out. you'd find lots of cannabis plants and amaranth fields. the streams might seem to be inviting in the sunny sometime shady trail, but the grass around 'em leaves your skin itching for long, we learn our lessons and limit our play to washing our faces or just clicking pics a few. we also find a dead snake on our way to pose with. approx 5 Km and we reach a plain small meadow in the middle of the valley. on our left is the village kulling, the ultra small one, and to the right we can see Didna up above. Aww so we need to climb up now?, I question myself.
finally, my head understands the logic. Hmm...

Crossing Himalayas, isn't that what it means to be trekking in himalayas?
Earlier I wasn't really thinking of counting down the number of mountain we gonna cross in each days' trek and then the total, but now I guess I should. We play a bit of polo there, I make 9 other pose dead and fallen, and in few minutes, we move on. near a village called Akhodi, we cross a beautiful shallow green-blue stream called akhodia ghadera which is full of colorful pebbles, also with us, walk two mules/horses (I dont really understand the difference except that the latter I can ride).

The Steep Mountain

The locals in Uttaranchal are delight, every kids we meet on the way, would greet us with a warm smile and indian traditional namaste. however some might ask for a toffee or chocolate from you. we did cross a few small villages too, or rather a odd number of houses, hiding in the valley with a small unidentified trail to walk up to. and then there were cows in plenty till now. We meet this one local woman porting a huge bundle of dry mountain grass, who' I am not sure if is pleased to see us clicking her, or is annoyed, She speaks in local language, and we just smile back. now ahead we find is rough trail up a bit and soon we reach a big iron bridge. (raun bagad falls or raung bagad? ) till here its 6 KM of treks and here I stand looking at a fall higher than any, I have seen before, as per guide this is called Neelganga. (as per google, its gyan ganga!) crossing the bridge and our hike up starts, we are supposed to stop here and wait for rest of the two groups who gonna join us shortly. soon we hear sounds of more than a dozen bells, together, and here comes our bunch of mules, walking zig-zag almost on the edge on the trail and ready to run over us. How fast these porters and mules are, I wonder. and how much weight they carry. Praduman ji, a resident of loharjung, whos' been trekking since 1986, our Headcook, and one of the most polite soul in our group, told me later, that a mule carries up to 100 KG of weight, and a healthy one, up to 1.5 quintal. they eat lots of grams like our plain area horses does. mystery solved. (chana sprouts?)

(photo courtesy: Bhanu Chetlapalli)

"Well it is a steep mountain to climb
And it is a deep river to cross
The road is rocky and rough
So I can't afford for my soul to lost

I sit in my tent and remember this song, From the bridge to Didna, was the toughest climb for me till date, in the heat, my ankle high la-fuma shoes, kept hitting and scratching my skin, the biggest mistake I did, was to carry the ankle length socks, and had I not gonna pay really high for that? I kept reassuring myself. the climb was slow. one of the uncles from Mansarvar group suggested me the stick, too. while few fit-nits amongst us, reached up around 2 PM, it took us another half hour to 45 minutes to cross didna and reach the camp site. but 3 o' clock onwards and we had plenty of time to rest and prepare ourself for the next day trek.

So was camping fun?

I had got something similar to blisters a little high to both then ankles. I did some dressing, first thing, borrowed a pair of socks from Pavan, and fix my shoes. Tea, pakodas and session of bluffs, where I think i was the only novice, went on for long, and we continued our sessions of dumb charades and Antakshari till bonfire, and dinner. this should have been one of the most memorable antakshari,..with everyone of youngs and seniors singing being equally enthusiastic.

"yahi hai yahi hai, yahi hai rang roop" Iss jeevan ka.

Our theme antakshari song! the session which started with a beautiful garhwali song, ended with our trek theme track, OM Mangalam, which probably was going to be our real source of energy and blessings on to us, leading us all the way to top Junargali in next few days.

Note: For, all local information/s in this and upcoming posts, credit goes to Mahendra and Praduman ji. Thank you both and all the local people who were part of our journey.

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