‘Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.’ – Jack Kerouac
Finally got to post something worth after a long… long time. There are so many tales to be told…. Tales of last few months.. something cool n something hot. I’ll start with the best in the lot – The Roopkund Trek, yes to that mysterious lake up above 16000 feet.
The plan was set and ready to roll just after my internship location got confirmed. Two months of Internship at Delhi and then a finish with trek to Roopkund. My last date of internship was 31st of may. I was supposed to go on 2nd June for the trek, then got to know that three of my friends have already booked on 5th June Slot. I liked my first trek with team Indiahikes. So had made up my mind to go with them this time also. Registration was done, gears were ready, medical certificate was filled and it was time for some action.
After a sweaty summer at Delhi, it was time to shiver in the freezing cold of the Himalayas. I could hardly devote anytime for fitness, but I was walking around 7-10km on an average per day thanks to my internship. After a wonderful trip to Kasauli with my friends, the next one on the list was Roopkund trek. I boarded the Ranikhet Express on 4th June just before 5 mins of its departure time. No No ! I wasn’t sleeping, I was having some quality time at Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi. You know how hard it is to leave such a place early that too on a weekend ! But the mountain was calling. I had to leave, but not before 9:15 PM.
Train: Ranikhet Express 
Departure Time: 10:30 PM (Delhi)
Arrival Time: 5:05 AM (Kathgodam)
Journey: From Old Delhi Railway Station to Kathgodam
Alternate: Bus from Kashmere Gate ISBT
Station to Base Camp:
The train arrived at Kathgodam right on time. Just after getting off the train, one could feel the soothing cool atmosphere. Everyone gathered near the parking area and then started our journey to Lohajung- the base camp for the Roopkund trek. There were 23 in the team. Nine from Mumbai, three from Bangalore, four from Delhi, four from Odisha (Ashutosh, Jayanta, Satayu and me) , two from Kolkata (Satyenda & Amitda) and the legend – Chaurasiaji. We came across Bhimtal Lake, Almora, Kausani on the route to Lohajung.
It was a-11 hour journey to the base camp. The scene was getting more beautiful and the wind cooler as we were moving ahead. At around 5 PM, we- Vinam,Salil, Abhinav, Ankit & I reached the base camp. The rest were on their way as they started a bit late. They had to face a hailstorm and literally clear the road of stones and wood to move ahead. Everybody arrived at base camp by 7 PM. After the heavy pouring, the clouds got cleared and we got the glimpse of the mountain with a few feathers of rainbow.
We did with the formalities-medical certificate, undertaking and personal info etc. Jude was our trek leader . I also met Dushyant who was trek leader in my previous trek at HKD. Jude started with the team introduction and briefed us on various aspects of the trek- trek itinerary, etiquettes, medical tips, green trail etc. Four of the Indiahikes volunteers/interns – Srilaxmi, Nikshep, Komal, Sampada also joined our batch. The next day’s schedule was 6-7-8 ; 6-Wake Up call, 7-Breakfast, 8-Trek start. We had dinner with mouthwatering hot Jalebis and went to sleep.
Base Camp to Ghaeroli Patal: [7,700 feet to 10,200 feet]
After a hearty breakfast of sandwich, boiled egg and milk with corn flakes, the much awaited journey started. We rode to Wan which was a 1-hour journey. Then the trek began. Kundan chacha was our local guide and Debendra Singh was sweeper- the person who stays at the back and makes sure no one is left behind. Kundan chacha worshipped at a temple which was just a stone’s throw away from the starting point and as per him that was the actual starting point of trek. There are so many stories and traditions attached with that temple.We were already told that the first day would be the toughest one, it actually was. There was a ascent – a descent and a very steep ascent. There were a few tea shops on the way. After walking for an hour or so, we reached a water stream- Neelganga around 11 AM.
Everybody refilled their water bottles and took some rest there. Nobody knew what was coming ahead – a steep ascent. That was really exhausting. The route was full of Oak and Rhododendron trees. But when we saw the sight of the camp after climbing for more than one hour, that feeling was exhilarating. That was for the day. We had reached Ghaeroli Patal – 10,200 feet.
We did some stretching, then Jude briefed us about the campsite. The hot lunch was ready by then. We took a little rest after lunch. But ‘Sleeping’ was a strict NO ! We explored the nearby area. In the afternoon, we played 7-Up J Yeah ! Jude and I won the game :p Tea-Soup-Dinner timing was 5:30-6:30-7:30. We went to sleep by 8 PM- the mountain timing. Due to exhaustion, everybody fell asleep within a few minutes.
Ghaeroli Patal to Bedni Bughyal: [10,200 feet to 11,700 feet]
Two of the most beautiful meadows of the Asia were on the card for the day- Ali Bughyal & Bedni Bughyal. 6-7-8 was the morning schedule. As each day, a group was coming; so the camps were kind of fixed. We didn’t have to untent the camp. That saved a little time and energy. But setting a tent and packing it is always fun for me. We moved through a thick forest and reached Ali Bughyal around 10 AM.
The greenery and splendid view of the sight left us spellbound. We clicked a few photos and enjoyed the scenic beauty. Then we moved to a tea shop, a few meters ahead; sat there for some time, enjoyed hot omelette. By that little time, Komal and Nikshep had climbed up another nearby meadow by then. After spending half an hour there, we moved ahead to Bedni Bughyal.
The trail was mostly flat. Just before half a kilometer to the campsite, it started raining. Everybody put on their poncho and reached at campsite. After the usual briefing, we had our lunch and take some rest. Thanks to the rain, the sky got rid of the clouds and was all clear. We could clearly see a no of peaks from there – Kalidag, Nandagunti, Trishul, Neelkant, Bandarpuch, Charkhamba etc.
We also played cricket there with the local boys. This was the best campsite and the atmosphere was also more of a balanced one.
Bedni Bughyal to Pathar Nachauni: [11,700 feet to 13,000 feet]
“Gaaaeeezz! Wake up ! Tea is ready!” I woke up with this sweet voice. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was Komal. Anyway, I had already made up mind to skip tea and grab some more sleep. We started at 8 for Pathar Nachauni. Just after a few meters, we came across another temple. There was a dried pond nearby- Bednikund. Kundan-chacha explained us the mythical importance of the temple and the pond and we moved ahead. There was a little steep ascent after that. Then it was a gradual ascent. We reached campsite around 12 noon.
The team was so energetic that we were arriving at our destinations much before the anticipated time. The sweet Nimbupani we got there at our arrival did away with all the tiredness. After lunch and a small break, we went to collect plastics and polythene from a nearby dhaba. This was a part of Green trail of Indiahikes- to make the Himalayas better & cleaner. One could see a group of people looking for something in the ground there. They were looking for a valuable thing that is generated from a worm a few feet below the ground. Pathar Nachauni was the windiest campsite I have ever seen. The wind was very strong, even capable of taking away the dining tent and cooking tent. The dinner was yummy and the kheer was delicious.
Pathar Nachauni to Bhagwabhasa: [13,000 feet – 14,600 feet]
Next day, we started from Pathar Nachauni.
After climbing a bit from the campsite, we stopped near the dhaba area. That was the only area up 13,000+ feet where network was available. Even internet was also available in the mobile. Kundan chacha explained the mythical story behind Roopkund trek on the way. It was a long way. After walking for a few hours, we reached top of that trail. There was a temple of Lord Ganesh there – Kalu Vinayak temple.
After a little rest there, it was a bit of descent to the campsite. It started hailstorming on the way. The moment we reached the campsite, it was all clouds in the sky. Then it got cleared gradually and bestowed upon us the best view that it could.
The technical team briefed us about the next day itinerary and trained us on how to use the clamp on and getters. One thing, they focused most- “Have confidence in your clamp ons!”. A few meters up above Roopkund lake, there is another point- Junargali. The technical team made us clear that if the weather would be clear, then they would take the call and only those would go, whom they would choose. That day, the dinner was the best in the lot; with Gulapjamun as sweet-dish. All packed their bags and went to bed early.
“It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.” -the three rules of mountaineering
Finally, the D-day was here. 3-3:30-4 was the timing. We woke up at 3AM and started our journey for Roopkund at 4AM. It was all dark and the torch was the only savior. After a gradual ascent, there was a steep climb before ChidiaNag. On the way, we put on our clamp-ons before we hit the snowline. It was easy walk for some time then. Then just before Roopkund, the real challenge came. A real steep ascent with narrow snowy path. The technical team were motivating us excellently to climb up. After a struggle of 30 mins, we got the sight of Roopkund. That was the time, my time….. our time. The time of happiness, the time of accomplishment. I was about to click of the lake, Surinder pal(technical team) asked , “Do you want to go Junargali?” I said,”Hail ! Yeah” and followed him.
The route to Junargali was not that easy. First a steep climb on the snow for a few meters. The air was real thin there and body was getting tired real fast. After the steep climb, it got tricky. The path was so narrower and dangerous. At one side, the snow-clad mountain and at the other, there was nothing. One slip and you will be hundreds of meter below. The technical team made the path easier for us by setting up a rope. We held the rope in one hand and the trek-pole in the other. “Confidence on Clamp-Ons” that was what took us up there – 16,070 feet. The view from there was magnificent.
“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.”
But we had got only 10 minutes up there. As the weather was unpredictable, so we had to reach below asap. We, 8 out of 26, made it to Junargali. Those 10 minutes was the worth the effort and enough to mesmerize my soul with splendid beauty of nature. Really, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”
We climbed down from Junargali to Roopkund lake. Somebody great had said, “ Ascending is tough and painful, but descending is dangerous.” The technical team helped us a lot in a smooth descent. Then we reached Roopkund lake and took a tour of the lake. We were provided Aluparatha and pickle as breakfast. After spending sometime there, it was time to descend.
The descend was bit tricky for the most, but our Junargali expedition helped us a lot. A few slipped while descending, but it was fun. We reached the campsite around 11 AM, had our lunch and moved back to Pathar Nachauni. We made it there at around 2:30 PM and camped there for the night. The next day we came all the way back to Lohajung. We arrived at Wan around 4 PM and Lohajung around 5PM. Everybody got freshened up after six long days and the final briefing and experience sharing happened.
We took rest that night and set off for Kathgodam the next morning. The train was at 8:40 PM to Delhi. We had a sumptuous meal at a hotel and boarded the Ranikhet Express. Each one back to his/her daily schedule-Employee Life/Student Life. We learnt a lot in these 8 days, saw a lot, felt a lot and experienced a lot. Moreover, everyone got a new family in those mountains. The memories will remain fresh forever.
Sayonara! Till the next one.
Tips of the Post:
- Travel light and enjoy.
- Try Buran Juice and Lemon tea on the way to Lohajung.
- Explore the crystal clear stary skyline at Bedni Bughyal or Pathar Nachauni.
- ‘Water’ is the only medicine in those mountains.
- Airtel network connectivity is there near Ghaeroli Patal and Pathar Nachauni campsite. Vodafone till Bhagwabhasa campsite.