CONQUERING ROOPKUND LAKE – PART 1
I found myself talking to nature, struck by the profound awe of things that existed beyond our regular lives and places similar to what I saw on postcards and New Year Calendars. The colossal majesty of nature unapologetically showered its best glimpses in form of welcoming forests, a grandeur of meadows any eye would lust for, snow-capped peaks boasting its first ray of sun, pristine streams and rocky patches of unadulterated barren lands. 🙂 🙂
Yes, I was dumbstruck and my soul seduced completely the moment I climbed 15780 feet conquering the mysterious, beautiful Roopkund summit. It was a gorgeous journey in the lap of nature before we reached where our heart and soul already existed – Roopkund. The trek to Roopkund truly is one of the best things happening to me, I understood it the moment I reached Lohajung – The base camp. The journey henceforth is what I need to pen down – let my thoughts out with the best sorcery of words (At the moment, my mind is still wandering in the Himalayas.
How it happened?
We are all slaves to modern mechanics of life and most of us cannot leave home without our phones, we eat less food and more of the internet and chase value of petrol more than soul surfing. I needed a break from all the chaos, walk up to a place where I understood the meaning of rationale living and explored the human side of my existence. My sister introduced me to IndiaHikes after her vagabond with nature on Har Ki Dun Trek (My next plan for a winter trek!! See I told you how addictive the mountains and its tranquil trails are). Being a solo traveller, I made up my mind to book my trek for Roopkund after few days of calculative planning with Indiahikes, I ended up making the best decision of my life. There was a thought of dubiousness; a slight feeling of anxiety being a solo traveller but all vanished the moment I met my Trek leader – Anuja Gupta (She is an inspiration for me!!)
I thought I came for a trekking to take a break from my life but it turned out to be magnificent, changed me as a person and made way for diluted things to be sturdy. This is what and how 8 days of Himalayan Expedition happened (Still hallucinated by the clouds I saw amidst the beautiful sunset!! Oh!! The pictures are coming soon. Keep Scrolling).
Kathgodam to Lohajung
Kathgodam is a quaint town located in the enchanting district of Nainital, Uttrakhand. We were a group of 24 trekkers in total, 4 solo trekkers and rest in small groups. All of us were from different zones of the country with only me from North Eastern part of India. Most of us boarded Ranikhet Express from Old Delhi Railway Station that departs at 10.40 pm, I had a sound sleep as I knew Kathgodam is the last station. The trains reached kathgodam at around 5.05am and amongst all the trekkers, I had a word with only Yatendra so far (Dr Singh is now a great friend, a good soul).
IndiaHikes arranged pick up vehicles from Kathgodam Railway Station to Lohajung, the expense to be shared among trekkers. The road trip from Kathgodam to Lohajung defined the surreal beauty of Uttrakhand, untouched by urban manifestation. One after another, I could not take my eyes off the breathtaking view. Mountains on one side and the other side dominating the picturesque view with flowing river, I gasped every encounter with nature. I shared the Sumo with Yatendra, Anthony, Nithin and Deepak, it was a joyful ride( Anthony had his brutal times banging his head left and right trying to sleep).
We crossed the beautiful Bhimtal, Almora City laid with colourful houses on hills and stopped at Kasauni for lunch. The restaurant was a cosy little one made of wood, we sure had a sumptuous meal. The Sumo Driver made the journey more comfortable and enjoyable, we halted at various places like Ranman and Karanprayag to take a closer look at Pindar River, sparkling stream of water rushing past the insurmountable stones. The 9 to 10 hours of the road trip was an appetiser of what the entire trek had to offer.
We reached Lohajung at around 5.30 pm to be greeted by Anuja – our trek leader. After registration and other formalities, we had some time to explore the place. The view of the mountains, fog kissing us and light breeze whispering slowly froze the moment; I sat on the terrace staring till my eyes lead me. The rooms were spacious, unbelievably comfortable and the meal was lip smacking. After few sessions of instructions and introductions, we moved to our rooms and ended our Day 1(It’s only Day 1 and I have so much more to share and say.)
Wan to Patal Ghereoli
I am not an early riser but stretching my hands out with my gaze on the mountains at 5.30am, it was different, a feeling of evolving ecstasy. 🙂 🙂 Quickly packed up, took a cold shower (I jumped throughout the sessions as cold water added my physical agony), had our breakfast and there was Team 24 ready to start, all pumped up for our kickass 6 days of natural shelter. We have driven 40 km from Lohajung to Wan, the place where the trekking starts.
Reaching Wan was a great adrenaline rush for me; I knew it is going to be an impeccable journey of both physical and emotional gain. Team 24 was like a family away from home, we all bonded really well and not one minute I felt I am amongst strangers. We started our climb from Wan, small Himalayan Village untouched by the heavy civilisation of urbanisation.
The climb was a forced ascent, I gasped for my breathe with every step I took but realised with every breathe I fell short of, with every new step I took, I am only going to treat myself with visual delicacies of nature. The gurgling Neel Ganga River(Sujan had his icy cool shower, the poor thing slipped with his Zebra Cap and costume for the trek), the little bridge over it and the pavement laid with trees on both sides was the best sight of the route. It was slightly difficult but with what we saw, nothing felt impossible. I enjoyed the 5.5 km stretch of steep ascent, met Himalayan kids and shared my toffees with them 🙂 🙂
The wonders of the forest were mesmerising before reaching Patal Ghaeroli, there was a sudden aura with fog and trees on both sides, welcoming us to the first Campsite( It was a scene straight out of Raaz movie, the jungle where Bipasha Basu took chances with her paranormal encounter). The campsite was exciting for me being first trekking experience. After lunch, we played few games and went on to explore the forest of Patal Ghaeroli. The grandeur get together of langurs, the thick forest and wild strawberries was undeniably an extravaganza.
The night at Patal Ghaeroli was sort of eerie for most of us. It was raining heavily with thunders and lightning. We all had our share of not sleeping(Ask Parthe and Puneet, who had to do mug out the water entering their tents turn by turn. I can’t stop laughing visualising it now. Jithu was no less, hitting on the tent hard after attending nature call, trying to escape the horrific scenes of Conjuring. Shantanu really had a bad night, almost planning his itinerary back). The night passed, so did the rain and shower, it was a beautiful morning with only my phone catching signal(I remember everyone looking through my tent!!).
Patal Ghaeroli to Bedni Bugyal via Ali Bugyal
Patal Ghaeroli flickered in us a doubt, I personally was in middle of havoc and slightly exhausted from last night’s sleepless horror. Despite everything, the beautiful forest trail charmed me, I was falling in love like a teenager does, drooling over benediction of nature the way I use to drool over my childhood crush (Well!! Absurd comparison but I did feel butterflies in the stomach while climbing up from Patal Ghaeroli). 🙂 🙂
It was an easy climb of around 2.5km to Ali Bugyal, Asia’s largest and most gorgeous meadows. The forest trail abruptly ends crafting way for the velvet like meadows, I swear I haven’t seen something as unadulterated like the meadows of Ali Bugyal and Bedni Bugyal. The carpet of grass was laid soft with small flowers, the view of horses grazing without a care, fog sailing along and cloud being the partner in crime, everything I saw was definitely not ephemeral pleasure. We climbed to the top of Ali Bugyal, spent some time being encapsulated by the bliss of things and descended down for next camp site – Bedni Bugyal.
Rolling on the carpet of grass in Ali Bugyal
It was an easy down and uphill across the gargantuan meadows, it was breathtaking, appealing extremely. 🙂 🙂 I felt lucky to be a part of such idyllic conservation of nature; it was like postcards were real and photographs taken in the best purview of nature actually existed in the lapse of Mighty Himalayas. Bedni Bugyal is something I cannot express in words, it is too outlandish a place hidden in nature spread in acres of meadows with wildflowers. The breeze was so pure and pristine; I almost slept on the grass enjoying the tryst with nature. Team 24, that’s what our team was called played Uno at 11000ft (Manik and MP had the gala time, I remember the number of sorry cards Manik had for MP. Not to forget, Sharat had to wait for his chance to play for like 3 to 4 rounds.)