“Are You Sure about this? ” I asked him sheepishly.
“Yes! I so want to do it” He answered with his eyes twinkling and out of no where he hugged me tightly(bargaining skills on point).
“Ah! well then we must go” I exclaimed halfheartedly and in my mind “my lazy ass is not getting comfort any time soon.”
And folks! that’s how we finally made up our mind after weeks of discussion (read debates), to go on our first Himalayan trek just after marriage. It was not that I did not want to go on a trek but the thing which was bothering me is that the coming days were going to be hectic and we should instead go on a more relaxing holiday. But, Seeing his eyes gleaming with excitement, I surrendered and I am not complaining.
We recently went on our first Himalayan Trek in Uttarakhand with Aahvan Adventures to Har Ki Dun. Har Ki Dun(Valley of Gods) is one of the most sought after treks in western Himalaya region and rightly so, as it is a cradle shaped valley below Har ki Dun peak (3500m) and is equally beautiful in summers as well as winters.
This trek is famous for its mountain views, and through this valley one can get view of Swargarohini – I, II, III, Har ki Dun peak, Bandarpoonch and Blackpeak, all together. During the trek, You will get to trek along the beautiful emerald green water of Supin River to Har Ki Dun valley.
If you ask me, this was the most difficult part of the whole trip. We were already exhausted because of our wedding and related functions, and then resuming our office made our body and mind to go completely on auto pilot mode. When we planned off the trip we discussed how we will try to run for an hour amidst of all shaadi prep and functions. But all in vain, and the guilty free sweets we gulped down during the wedding week made it worse. Anyways, to say the least we did not comply the fitness regime, however if you are planning to go on a week long trek, do not ignore your health. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the trek. Defying gravity and walking for a long duration on steep slopes with a rucksack requires stamina.
- To start with, walk for few kilometers (as per your comfort), try to maintain a constant speed.
- Slowly shift to jogging in second week, and increase your speed gradually.
- Do not forget to stretch after walking/jogging.
- Other activities like cycling/swimming/running are equally beneficial.
- Basic weight training, push ups, pull ups and squat can help you in gaining endurance and strength.
- More time you spend before trek on building strength the better.
Ideally you will get the list of essentials on every travel/trekking site, and hence there’s no point writing about it all over again. We had very little time for all the prep, we were juggling between office and shopping till the last day of our stay in Mumbai. We packed warm clothes, dry fit T-shirts, down jacket, trekking shoe(this one is a must), medicines, dry fruits, chocolates, toiletries etc in our rucksack. We did all of our shopping from Decathlon stores, they have a huge collection of all the clothing and accessories required for any kind of sports/adventure activities.
After spending our last day in office we rushed to airport to fly for Delhi. We had few hours in our hand before taking a train to Dehradun, which we spent on eating aloo parantha and drinking lassi in Paharganj area of Delhi.
Way to base camp:
Dehradun was last stop of the train we boarded, and thank God for it was, otherwise we would have totally missed getting down. We arrived at 6 A.M in the morning, and met representative from Aahvan team. We along with other trek mates started our journey to base camp, Sankri at 7 A.M. It is around 7-8 hours drive on serpentine roads, and drivers on mountains are no less than Khatron ke khiladi. Many times my heart sanked on sudden turns and jolts. Meanwhile I looked at the man beside me and found him snoring, he has motion sickness, so this is best he can do, atleast he is not vomiting on my lap, I felt relieved. We took stops to have breakfast and lunch, and managed to reach Sankri by 4 P.M.
Sankri (elevation 1920m above sea level) is a small beautiful village in Govind National Park with few hundred houses. It serves as base camp for several other treks other than Har ki dun, such as Kedarkantha, Bali pass, Ruinsara taal trek etc. After freshening up in hotel Swaroghini palace, we head out to see the village. As we were already told that we will not get any network after Sankri, even in Sankri only BSNL is available, we left our phones in hotel room. There were number of hotel, home stays, shops filled with trekking gears, mini buses etc all around. The roads were filled with young excited group of people, all of them were trekkers heading to different treks. One of the many thing I love about mountains is dogs, Yes Dogs! Himalayan shepherd are beautiful, friendly, furry creatures. And I never miss a chance to pet them. We saw group of locals playing carom-board across road, and we clicked few photographs of them. It feels nice to see people networking when mobile network is weak.
We strolled further away from market area along pine trees, and me being me, started collecting pine cones ( I have a habit of collecting souvenirs from places), the local man told me that you will get bigger cones in mountains, I smiled, I anyway kept them (Back up!). It started getting dark, as we had momos in a local shop. Back in hotel we were briefed by our guide about trek, itinerary, precautions, things to carry etc. He also offered paid porter service as it can be quite exhausting to carry Kilos on back while trekking for days. I was little worried about my back (I have a painful history) and wanted to avail the service. However, later changed my mind after motivational words of Paresh, his exact words were” Vijaya, you may offload, but I want to carry rucksack on my back. Because this is my first Himalayan trek , and certainly not my last. I want to test my abilities and to be ready for other more difficult treks.” And I was like here we go, so yeah we did our whole trek with him carrying 10 kg and me carrying 5 kg respectively.
After breakfast, we left for Taluka which is around 12 Km away. It is around an hour drive from Sankri, amidst rocky roads on mountains. Our vehicle which was Mahindra tempo traveller (very popular on pahadi roads) was full, so Paresh got seat on its roof (luggage carrier) and everytime the vehicle took a sharp turn, I was like “Paresh you still there??”
We finally reached Taluka (altitude 2075 m) at around 9 A.M. from where we had to start our 14k.m trek to village Seema. As we started our trek, local kids gathered around and started chanting “TATA! Topi?” I found it cute as I thought they are calling on me as I had worn Cap, only to realize it later they were asking for toffee, My bad :/
We trekked through beautiful trails in forest along with river Supin flowing on our left. We kept on walking on initial easy trails for one hour and reached a beautiful meadow, wherein we clicked few photographs. We would stop in between to fill our water bottles from water seeping through rocks. There were trees of pine, walnut, chestnut and rhododendron flower tree all over the trail.
We reached village Gangad, where we spotted a local women weaving woolen cloth in her backyard, we clicked few photographs of her. A kid approached us and this time we offered him toppee(toffee) as asked 🙂
We stopped at a shop in Gangad, which had quite interesting name(YES BOSS, Big Bazar) to have our packed lunch. And we finally reached our next camping destination which was in Seema at 4.30 p.m. Aahvan team members were already there, waiting for us with maggie and hot tea, which tasted like heaven after this 7-8 hour toil.After having snacks, we gathered courage to wander in surroundings and of-course clicked few pictures again.
We had our soup while our guide showed us how to use sleeping bag and how he will not provide blanket today as he want us to get ready for bigger fights(he meant colder nights ahead). I came back in my tent and cried as my legs were hurting, I popped one muscle relaxant pill and went back outside. So we chatted for rest of the evening , had lip-smacking dinner prepared by Aahvan team who are bunch of young boys. We thanked them and went to sleep at 8 P.M. I struggled to sleep as my feet were still cold. Sound of roaring river beside our campsite and winds gushing through our tent made it worse.
We woke up at 6:30 a.m, packed our bags, had our breakfast and started our 14km trek to Har ki Dun Campsite (elevation 3566m). This day was tough man, to say the least. The trails were steep, and I was loosing my breath in every half an hour. I was lagging behind during initial hours as my sore legs were not completely recovered. But as soon as we saw beautiful sarson ke khet around, I ran after my Raj ( with less fancier name Paresh).
We stopped at chai tapri, the owner of the shop was an 11 year old boy ( He was helping his Dad, as it was his day off from school). We trekked for few more kilometers and reached near waterfall which was our halt point for lunch. And guess what whom do we see again?? The same guy, So apparently after serving us, he gathered all his stuff and trekked to reach before us at his next shop to lit his ‘Chulha‘ beforehand. I was flabbergasted, how can anyone do it ?(Coz He is pahaadi! Duhh!).
We had our lunch, filled our water bottles and left for Har ki Dun campsite which was around 5 k.m away now. We trekked through steep and narrow trails, and by the time we reached our campsite we were completely exhausted. But, all the efforts seemed to be paid off as we saw the campsite; snow capped mountains, pine trees, and river flowing few meters away. It was heaven, pure bliss, we hurriedly threw our bags inside our tents, and sat beside river.
We were in dreams what more beautiful it could be, we thought, unaware of tomorrow. We enjoyed campfire, played few games, had our dinner and discussed next day trek itinerary. As we were warned that temperature may go below zero degree Celsius in night, we added one more layer clothing and slept peacefully.
This day was the best day of trek, undoubtedly! As campsite was same, we left our luggage in our tents only and marched towards Jaundhar glacier view point, which was 5 k.m away from our camps. We were carrying only daypack and hence distance and slope didn’t seem hectic. We climbed, jumped, and swiftly walked on snow to reach the view point before the estimated time. Ah!what a view it was…It was totally worth it, from the view point one could see Har ki Dun peak, Black peak, Swaroghini 1, 2 and 3 easily.
We laid back there for good one hour, clicked pictures, few even took a nap, and finally left for our way back to campsite. This time snow were bit tricky, I attentively put my right foot forward on the marked way and BAM!! My whole leg went under 2 feet snow. And then we unanimously decided to slide on it instead, and it was mad fun!!
Me and Paresh were walking behind the group as we had earlier spotted skulls of animals during our ascend. So we again reached the same point, skeletons of animals all around, we picked one as souvenir and clicked few pictures with a skull of an animal (we still don’t know what it was).
We reached our campsite by lunchtime, took a nap after it, had tea, clicked few more pictures, and slept as the next day was again the same 14 k.m toil all the way back to Seema village.
After three days of experience, we were ready for come what may. We had our breakfast at Har ki dun campsite and left to descend for Seema village campsite. Though we thought it will be a cake walk but sadly it was not, because descending is not as easy as it sounds, also exertion from last three days also played a role in making trek tough. The only silver lining was this time we were somewhat familiar with the trails and hence there was nothing unexpected.
As I have already mentioned about our last minute prep, so my trekking shoes were not worn by me before the trek, you can guess what happened next?? Blisters :/ Anyways we still kept on moving, calculating how much time and distance we have covered, how much left, and reached our destination by 4 P.M. As soon as we reached our campsite, I removed my shoes to see the condition and boy! it was not good. Anyways we had our snacks, and me and Paresh decided to reach at middle giant stone in flowing water somehow as it will give better view of mountains and bridge.
I built a stone tower there, we clicked few pictures around and went back to our campsite. I made few sketches(Oh! Did I mention I brought my shetchbook along 🙂
By this day everyone started dreaming of their home , and how they will take bath just after reaching Sankri (did I mention we were not touching water for these five days). So we started off at 8 A. M., took haults at same points we stopped during our ascend, ate, chatted and walked silently. Everyone was super quick this day except me due to blisters. I took my time, was walking at comfortable speed, thinking about what all works I have to complete in my office ( seriously! who think about office in mountains). I collected few more pine-cones, this time they were bigger as told by the man back in Sankri, they had their trademark peculiar sharp coniferous smell (mixture of nilgiri oil and cinnamon). I also climbed and got one rhododendron flower for myself (Okay! Paresh helped me :/).
My guide was worried about my foot but nothing could be done, so we walked as it was only way to reach at comfortable bed waiting for me at Sankri ( that was my goal, Lame!! I know ). Soon we reached at the same meadow we encountered during our first day trek, We had our lunch there,” it is only one hour from here” assured my guide, I smiled. We left for Taluka, this time me and Paresh were ready to distribute chocolates to kids back in Taluka (Remember Tata Topee?? well we did).
We reached Taluka by 2:30P.M, and reached Sankri by 3.30P.M. And all my dreams came crashing down as the reception guy told me, no warm water available, as the batch left before us used it mercilessly. I came back to my room, disheartened, cried, I did this five day trek to mountains, and they cannot provide hot water to bath, how could they? Anyways I gathered courage ( actually followed Paresh’s footsteps) and took bath from cold water (ice cold water to be very precise).
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