Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sun falls on azure Rishikund: a trek to remember

First time I was travelling to Joshimath from Rishikesh. After the great flood of Uttarakhand in 2013, things have been definitely changed. The cluttering houses and shops were seemingly less on road, while roads were more treacherous than before; perhaps it was the horror of deluge that still lingered in with people. Nevertheless, the infatuation towards mountains, nay, Himalayas made it happen that I was again venturing to a rough path.

I met two travelers in Rishikesh who were interested in Bagini Falls trek, so we had decided to go together, as it would be okay for me because the trek seemed treacherous and I needed some people to obtain permit for the trek. 

The whole Bagini region falls under the Nandadevi Bioshphere Reserve, and therefore this tedious formality of permit. The bus reached Joshimath at the evening, so we took a shelter in a cheap hotel and spent our night there. Next day we took permit from the forest department and bought some food for enroute. I had my tent with me, and the couple who I accompanied also had their tent, so it would be no question of renting tent.

The journey from Joshimath to Jumma

Jumma village near malari joshimath trek to bagani
A typical village en route (Jumma)
We had first thought to reach Bagini without any guide, but after much contemplation and my previous trek experience to Tapovan, I suggested hiring a guide because it was too easy to get lost on boulder pathway.  Joshimath to Jumma was around 40km situated on the Joshimath Malari highway.

The proximity to Tibet was evident on the locality and culture of people. Although we reached Jumma around 3pm, still we had decided to spend our day in the village before our trek. We pitched our tent a little outside of the village for overnight stay. From my experience I got to know that before trek, it was important to fuel yourself with good food and quality sleep.

More trekking experiences in Uttarakhand

Day 1: Morning 6:00 AM

langtoli meadow
Langtoli meadow
We started early because we wanted to compensate our hours spent in Jumma. The first village was Ruing, just 2km nearly flat trek from Jumma. The Dhauli Ganga accompanied us so we didn’t have any problem of water. Earlier also during my Gaumukh and Tapovan trek, I used to drink water directly from the river, as I didn’t want to increase my luggage (already it was a little more than 9kg).

We spent some time roaming around the village to see some obscure cottage handicraft items. We already bought some extra medicines and glucose from Joshimath because it was a customary to donate something to village older people here. Even if you don’t want to, they will ask you!

After having our breakfast, we started our journey to Dronagiri, a sharp but moderate climb amidst alpine forest. The best way to trek on sharp descent is to climb slowly without stopping. The trickiest part of our trek began when we stumbled across a huge pile of sunken, piled us landslide.

Landslide zone was 2km ahead of Dronagiri village. We reached there just before the dusk. There were 40-50 houses, mostly abandoned. No toilet, no water, no food – a godforsaken village. Actually we came here during the onset of winter when (handful) villagers went down to Ruing to spend 3-4 months. I was happy with this stark scenario with Kanari Khal at the back and Nandikund Pass lied in front of the village. A full view of Hathi Parvat to the South drank our fatigue to a great extent.

There was no place to pitch tents in the village, so we climbed a little higher and camped there. We brought some raw food with us so cut some branches and with bricks we made our stove, and cooked our food with some easy attempt. The night was chilling, the cold wind penetrated inside the tent and through my sleeping bag.

Day 2: 6 AM
dronagiri village
Dronagiri Village
Our first target was Langatoli, a 3km moderate trek to 3800m. From Langaltoli to Advanced Bagini Base camp or Garur camp site, this would be a 7 km trek. The total time would be taken to reach Bagini around 5-6 hours. The biggest hindrance is huge plethora of moraine and glacier, fed by the massifs of Changbag, Kalanka, Hardeo and Monal group of mountains. The azure water of Rishikund bestowed a heavenly charm to the whole place. Undoubtedly, the addiction of Himalayas is not just the snow clad mountains but the whole ecology where these mighty peaks imbibe in a celestial charm.

Hathi Peak
The roughness of the real trek was started to feel for all of us. The gradual gain of height would make anyone short of oxygen. To reach lower Bagini base camp took us 4 hours (it was pretty much good speed). Many trekkers generally go back from this place because of altitude sickness and boulder rich steep height.

After 15 minutes silent rest, we again started with Trishuli, Hardeol and Purbi Dunagiri peaks just in front of us. A gradual descend led us to the left bank of Bagini stream. After crossing the bridge, the left side went to Kanari Khal, leading towards a small village named Garpak. The right trail was big bouldered path that twisted as it ascended.

The climb was steep and exhausting. The river was fast but safe. We carried some water from the moraine.  It was impossible to camp in the moraine, so we climbed a little further to Changbang base camp. We trekked a little more to reach a place where Gujjar made stone structures. The chill wind and slight raining forced us to camp for the rest of the day.

Day 3: 8 AM

We started without having our breakfast because we wanted to return to Langatoli that day. Changabang Zero Point and Rishi Kund were almost 2km from where we pitched our tents. The climb was steep but after 2 hours of climb, we ultimately reached a place, which couldn’t be defined by words. The imposing Himalayan peaks Changabang (6864m), Rishi Pahad (6992m), Kalanka (6931m), Bagini Peak (5000 something), Garuda Peak, Dronagiri ((7066m), Gauri Parvat (6708m) and Hathi Parvat (6727m) could be caught by hands.

Necessary Suggestions

Design your itinerary considering time, budget and weather conditions.

You will find guide at forest department where you get your permit.

Make a strict schedule of returning, so that you can ask your car to pick you from Jumma.

Carry your own stove, food, medicines, high altitude sleeping bag etc.

Be in a right frame of mind. Short steps, deep breaths and without stopping anywhere.

Don’t cross the river or swift streams barefoot.

Carry a windproof jacket and poncho.

Don’t start wood fire anywhere. Do not pollute the water. Respect ecology.

Hydrate yourself frequently. Also carry dry fruits and chocolates for quick energy.

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