“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
This is the second post of my HKD Trek. To check the first post Click here Har Ki Dun Trek – Part I
“ Wake up ! Everybody WAKE UP !!” No, that wasn’t an alarm. That was Dushyant’s wake up call.It was the D-day. I slipped out of my sleeping bag and stretched up a little bit. Then I checked my watch and felt amazed at finding even the minute hand and hour hand stretching up at 1800 .Ofcourse the minute hand facing north and the hour hand facing south. I zipped out the camp and found Shravan, the local guide, standing just outside the camp with morning tea. That was the best luxury we had at those 10,000+ feet up there and in those freezing temperature. Then I gulped down one full bottle of water. It was not the thirst, but the necessity of the body. There were a number of water streams near-by; but taking a bath was out of question. I couldn’t dare to change my clothes, forget about taking a bath. By 7AM, breakfast was ready: Poha, cake with honey, boiled egg and hot milk. The food was very delicious and yummy. All thanks to the Indiahikes cooking-team. We packed our lunch and got ready to touch the HKD summit.
The trekking line up was very systematic. Normally, there are two experienced people/guides at both end of the line: sweeper at the back, guide at the front. And the rest of the crew move in between so that there is least chance of being misled. Apart from this, one has to ensure that he/she can see the next person ahead of him/her and at the same time he/she must be within the visible range of the person behind him/her.
Kalkatiyadhaar to Har ki Dun:
Har ki dun campsite is a 4km journey from Kalkatiyadhaar, but time taking due to heavy ascend and presence of snow in the route. There was a stiff ascend just at the beginning of the journey. And when you are climbing with a 12kg backpack, the distance seems longer. It’s moment like this when you get a feel of the gravity.
After climbing up for around 20 minutes, the view of HKD peak just got clearer. The route was so scenic that you’d feel like sitting there for some time and enjoying the beauty.
But time is a bitch and everybody has to obey its rule. After another 20 minutes of walk, there came another small waterfall. There was a small dhaba beside that. One thing that amazed me was that the dhabawala was keeping the cold-drinks dipped inside the water-stream to keep it chilled. A natural fridge. 🙂 There we filled up our water-bottles, took some photos and moved ahead.
There was a small wooden bridge after that and a bit of ascending. After this ascend, the route was flat for next 2 km. Snow-covered white mountains at the right side , greener grass beneath and spotless blue sky up above. Then we entered into an area full of cherry-blossom trees. This looked like a red-blanket upon those green grass and white snows. If there is a dreamland, this is it.
After crossing this, I was at an open area. There was a big rock at the left. Sandeep, Shravan , Devesh were sitting there. This must be our lunch point. Though technically Shravan was showing us the path, but for most of the time Sandeep was ahead of him. We waited there for others. The next person to reach was Anandi followed by other menon family members. And at last the group of girls. The last person to reach was always fixed. There wasn’t any deviation in that position. It was always Jyothi. She was the tortoise of our group; slow and steady, but a winner. We had our lunch there. By the time, we were resuming the journey, it started raining like small tiny snow-balls. We put on our poncho and moved ahead. That poncho was giving a devil like ghost look.
After walking for a few minutes, we came across lots of snow. It was fresh and soft. That first step on the snow will always remain special. I was very careful while walking on the snow. Because one wrong step and bhussssh…. You are in deep snow till your knee or even waist. The trick is to step on a step-mark that somebody has already stepped in. After walking through those snow for 30 more minutes, I got a glimpse of the campsite. The location of the campsite was a marvelous one.
The mules couldn’t move ahead. So the camp was set just at a 100m distance from the Har ki Dun site. Just when I reached the camp, it started snowing. I got into the camp and waited for others to reach. It was around 2:30 PM.
In the mean time, Anandi and Angad created one master-piece of a snowman.
Tea and soup were ready by that time. Everybody enjoyed the hot cup of soup. We moved to the HKD point then which was just a 2-minute walk-away. We reached the point where HKD valley and Swargarohini 1,2 were clearly visible.
Dushyant briefed on its history. Swargarohini is the same mountain from which Yudhisthir had climbed to Swarg. As per facts, no human has yet able to climb this peak. We took a few group photos and everybody returned.
But I, Angad & Sunayana planned to climb down to the HKD valley. But we can see a fierce rain coming our way. Though I hadn’t taken poncho, still I took a risk. But Shravan denied and talked us out of it. And it started snowing heavily, just when we reached the camp. There was nothing to do. So everybody gathered in the dining tent for some games. And Dumb charades began. It was fun. A few hot nos were “The shawshank Redemption”, “Pakija”, “Jajantrum Mumuntrum” etc. It was dinner time when the game finished. The atmosphere was getting cooler and cooler. I had my dinner, brought a bottle of hot water and slipped into my sleeping bag.
Next day , we started the journey a bit early as it was a to and fro journey. The destination was maninda lake. We had to make our own route as there weren’t any. And add to that it was all covered in snow. Prakash and Shravan were making the way and we were following. The route was very treacherous, but scenic.
It felt like walking on a soft white blanket of snow.
As I hadn’t carried any day-pack, so I was sharing with Sandeep. After walking for two hours through the snow, we came across a small pond like area. But nobody could believe it to be the Maninda lake. As the only person who already have been there was Shravan and he was far behind at that moment. There were hardly any footstep marks ahead of that. So everybody settled there and waited for the others to reach. I and Anirban moved ahead a bit to take some photos and then a little ahead and then a little more ahead.
We could see everybody sitting at the same position and resting.
We waited for 10 more minutes. Only one more living being joined us by that time. It was Fifi- the local dog who accompanied us the whole trek. There was a straight stretch of snow in front of us at least around 3 km. And at the end of the visible sight, we could see a turn of a valley. We thought of reaching that point or till we came across maninda lake. We moved ahead and ahead. In between we were stopping by to click some photos.
Then we lost the sight of our trek-group. But we weren’t coming back. Then I remembered I had Sandeep’s bag with me. His watter bottle and other belongings were in it. I thought of returning, but with the same effort I could reach our marked destination. And once I returned back, I couldn’t come again this far. So finally we decided upon moving ahead till 11:30 AM, because then it’d take 3 more hours to return back assuming a 25% increase in speed. We walked and walked and walked till we could. The snow was totally virgin-snow. There weren’t any mark of foot-steps. Totally pure white untouched snow. At one point, we found out that we couldn’t move ahead. There was not any trail or path beyond that. Not at least visible to us. The maninda taal was still out of our sight. So we sat there on a small stone, took out our refreshments: Orange and Biscuits. After having those, we regained some energy to walk back. And we started the return journey. After walking for 30 mins, we heard a sound. Anirban thought it was a wolf or something. We looked everywhere, but there was not any in sight. After walking around 30 more minutes, we came across Dushyant moving in our direction in search of us. Just the sight of him, charged me up. He told us that it was Badassu pass route and we had covered almost half of it. He also told that that small pond like thing was Maninda lake 😛
Had he been with us, then we could have marched ahead. But it was also the first time for him of coming this far. Then we returned back to the camp and reached at around 2:15 PM. Everybody was sleeping after having a hearty lunch. We had our lunch and got some rest.
In the evening, I, Anirban and Sam went to explore the HKD valley. We climbed down to the valley and went near the water-stream to take some photos.
After some time, I saw a rain moving in our direction. So packed up and returned. I was the only person who was not wearing any rain-coat or waterproof jacket. So literally I had to run till the campsite. Maggi was ready when I reached the camp. Add to that hot delicious soup with papad. Then I took some rest in the camp. At around 7PM, we had dinner and went to sleep.
Har Ki Dun to Puani Garaat via Kalkatiyadhaar :
The return journey started the next day. We started early as we had a long distance to cover i.e. around 11km. We passed through the same snow, meadows, water-streams and bridges. Descending was fun. “A cake-walk in a park”- as per Anandi. We had our lunch break at kalkatiyadhaar site and moved to Puani garaat via the other route. That is not through osla village, but through the other side of the river.
As this was a long distance walk, so everybody was spread up a bit. I was in the middle. At one point we had to climb down to the level of river and cross a bridge.
At that very moment, it started raining and wind was very heavy. I had to take out my poncho from the bag and put on. Till the time, I was ready to move ahead, there wasn’t anybody in my sight in the front. So I just kept on walking. I walked for 20 mins, but still nobody was in sight. I was bit afraid. Was I lost ? Then I saw a person in a poncho waving at me. I moved ahead and she was none other than Anupama. I was relieved. But the relief was temporary. Soon I got to know that she was in the same situation as I was. Were we both lost ? We kept on walking. After 15 minutes of walk, we came across Devesh resting under a tree. Now we were relieved. We walked till the Puani garaat camp site.
But it was already occupied by another group. So we had to choose another spot. It was a blessing in disguise. We found a better spot just near the river. I got freshened up in the river and changed my clothes that I was wearing for last 3 days.
Puani Garaat to Sanki via Taluka:
Puani Garaat to Taluka is a 13km journey and from taluka to Sankri a 12 km journey. We started early due to the long distance. The path was simple and soothing. It was a straight walk till taluka. A few snaps from the return journey…
From taluka, we travelled by bolero till sankri and reached there in the evening.
After reaching sankri, I got a bucket of hot water from a nearby shop at the cost of 30 rupees and took a bath after 6 long days. In the evening, the briefing session was held where everybody shared their experience. Then there was a cake-cutting ceremony for successful completion of HKD trek. Later certificates were distributed to each one.
Everybody had dinner and went for a sound sleep in the coziness of soft bed after sleeping for 6 nights inside a sleeping bag.
In the morning, we started our journey to Dehradun. That was also a hail of a journey. The tire got punctured thrice on the way to Dehradun. Luckily, we reached on time. We went directly to Doon Darbaar :A must visit place for all the non-veg foodies.
Then I moved to Haridwar railway station from Dehradun railway station where I had to catch the train to Bhubaneswar.
It was an experience of a life time.
- Try Rhododendrons’s juice at the local area. Rhododendron is a red color flower and is only available in some particular season.
- Bring some chocolates with you to distribute to the local village children.
- Bring some booze and save it for the return journey. You aren’t allowed to take those to the trek with you. Enjoy after coming back from the trek. At sankri, you won’t find anything.
- The less you carry, the more you enjoy. So make sure to take only those with you that you can’t manage without.
Awards of the Trek- (Unofficial, my personal view: fun intended 😛 )
- The Energetic Trekker- Sandeep
- The Tortoise of the Group- Jyothi
- The Backpack Trekker- Me 🙂 I was the only person in the group to complete the whole trek with my backpack.
- The Drama Queen- Jovina 😛
- The Best TrekLeader- Dushyant
- The Best Guide- Shravan
- The Man of Patience- Prakash
Signing off…. Till the next story….. Adios Amigos 🙂
Click here to see my Flickr HKD Photo Album
Click here for HKD Trek Details