Friday, October 14, 2016

रूपकुंड (Roopkund Lake) -- Day-2

This day was probably destined to be eventful for me.  We 3 were supposed to reach Railway station by 7 AM (max) to join rest of the team to start Kathgodam to Lohajung journey.  This ~275 KM journey takes about 10 hrs so the plan is always to start early...

We got up at 6 AM and stated preparing.  By 6:30 AM rest of the team had reached the Railway station and they started calling us to hurry up.  Every 5 - 7 min either the driver or somebody from the team would check on us.

We somehow managed to be ready to leave the KMVN Guest House by 7:30 AM and I noticed that my wallet is missing.  We searched everywhere in the room.  All my luggage as well a multiple times.  The room attendants also helped us but no success.  I had a lot of cash + all my cards + IDs in it.  I was not able to recall where did I keep it last.  After 15 min of search by 5 members and a few calls from the rest of the team asking us to hurry up, it was decided that I lost it and we better report this to the police.  If they get it, they may call me.  I was not at all sure if this will help.  I was like "shxx" not a good start at all :-(.

We ran to the railway station parking and joined rest of the team.  I dropped the idea of reporting to police.  I now started thinking of calling banks for various cards to be blocked and all related trouble.

Running towards Kathgodam Rly Station (Photographer: Chirag)

Kathgodam Rly Station (Photographer: Chirag)

We introduced ourselves to 7 others who were waiting for us and finally started the journey.  Took a 15 min break for b'fast and started towards Kausani.

Checking Kathgodam City from height (Photographer: Chirag)

One of the bridge on the way (Photographer: Chirag)

By noon, we had crossed Kausani and it was time to halt for lunch.  On way to Baijnath there is a tea factory.  There are 2 hotels here and a few shops.  There is also a shawl factory.

We had lunch here and surprise !  I got my wallet back :-).  My room-mate had pocketed it in the morning at the KMVN Guest House, of-course by mistake, assuming it is his.  Post lunch, he pulled it out to pay money and I saw a familiar item in his hand.  Now it was his turn to search for his wallet :-).  Luckily he found his wallet in his luggage.  What a relief !!!

Rest of the journey was through forests and never ending ghats, climbing one mountain, getting down the other side and climbing the next one.  The journey was: Kathgodam -- Bhimtal -- Sukha -- Dhuna -- Almora -- Someshwar -- Kausani -- Baijnath -- Gwaldham -- Dewal - Lohajung.  About 275 KM.

Around 4 PM, it started raining heavily.  We had just reached Dewal.  Another adventure was waiting for us.  We thought of taking a tea break.  But the rain made it difficult to come out of the tempo for a while.  Once out, we got to know that big trees have fallen due to rain and the road ahead is blocked at 2 places.  Our tempo driver was not sure when will the road get cleared.

Luckily, our transport coordinator was at Dewal.  He arranged for a BIG jeep and shifted us to it.  This was cramped compared to the space that we had in 14-seater tempo.  We still had about 1.5 hrs of journey left.

Our jeep could barely pass through this road block.  At 2nd location, the tree was cut into pieces and road was clear.

We reached Lohajung around 6:30.  This is the base-camp for Roopkund trek.  A small village with a few hotels and guest houses all over.  A few shops selling items like: woolen gloves, woolen caps, trekking pole, etc to trekkers.

It was dark all over.  We settled in one Govt Guest House.  More of a dormitory.  There was no power and we were told power is very erratic there.  Mr. Dev Singh is in-charge here.  He arranges all logistics for trekkers like: stay, food, local guide, supplies for next 5 days of trek.  Very jovial and energetic person.

We were introduced to his team and also had a briefing with Rhik who is from the trek organiser's office.  Rhik will also be with us during the entire trek.  Got to know a few do's and don't's.  Especially to watch ourselves for any signs of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness).  Symptoms like: headache, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath, generally around 10,000 feet/3,048 meter.  If needed, take Diamox or any paracetamol tablet.  Best is to drink as much water as possible.

Next day, plan was to start around 9 AM, post B'fast.

Monday, October 10, 2016

रूपकुंड (Roopkund Lake) -- Day-1


This was definitely a "call of the mountains".

It started with "Valley of Flowers" trek in July-2015.  I felt mesmerised and intimidated by the sheer size of the mountains, the snow covered giant glaciers and the possibility to drive body (and mind) beyond it's limits.

**I did not know, there is a song by this name: "call of the mountains" in the album "Eluveitie".  Its lyrics fits the sentiments very well...

**There is a Marathi Natyageet with similar mood as well.  "साद देती हिमशिखरे शुभ्र पर्वताची", complete lyrics here.  But here, the hero is wishing to leave for Tapasya leaving the worldly pleasures behind :-)


Apr-16, started hunting for a Himalayan Treks that I should attempt this year.  After a few searches, finalised Roopkund.  The "lake-with-skeletons" attracted me in addition to a lot of fellow trekkers talking about it.  1 more team member of mine Yash agreed to join + 1 more friend of his from Pune as well.  Sometime in May-16, paid visit to Decathlon, the sports shop and spent ~6K :-(.  Started preparation by walking 4 - 5 KM each day, 5 days a week.  Like last year, this year also did a few rounds of Nandi Hill to test my stamina.

The unexpected:

4 days before the departure, on a WED morning, I was casually looking myself in the mirror and suddenly my lower back started paining, some kind of sprain.  I guess the me in mirror did not like the real me for some reason :-(.

I thought it will go away with more movements or bit of walking so continued with my routine and reached office, while the lower back was still paining.  After a few hrs at office, the pain did not show any sign of reducing.  Now, it was not allowing me to sit or stand either.  Something was seriously wrong :-(

Went to the Doctor's room, took a painkiller + used hot-water-bag.  No relief !  Luckily, later that day, an orthopedic was to visit our office.

He examined and told me -- this looks like some weak muscle has sprained -- or this can be "disk" related issue -- take medicine for a few days, if the pain does not go, you'll have to get an MRI done -- this is typical of "modern" Doctors -- they make it look like they are not hiding anything from you -- and they scare you royally...

Dr. gave me 5 days medicine and asked me to watch myself.  When I told him about my trek plans, he blasted me saying, do not do any adventures, just cancel the trek...

Came home and started taking the painkillers.  Luckily, in 2 days the pain reduced and 4th day, it was gone :-).  Meanwhile, parents were worried.  Kept calling me 2 times a day, asking me to check back with the doctor.

This sudden development had potential to derail my trek plans.  But I survived...


Day From To Distance Mode Elevation Elevation
Day-1 BangaloreDelhi---Flight


Day-2 KathgodamLohajung240 kmBy Road2300 m7500 ft
Day-3 LohajungDidna10 kmTrek2450 m8000 ft
Day-4 DidnaBedni Bugyal12 kmTrek3600 m12000 ft
Day-5 Bedni BugyalPatar Nachuni5 kmTrek3750 m12300 ft
Day-6 Patar NachuniBagubasa5 kmTrek4300 m14000 ft
Day-7 BagubasaRoopkund4 kmTrek4850 m15900 ft

RoopkundBagubasa4 kmTrek------

Bagubasa Patar Nachuni 5 kmTrek------

Patar Nachuni Bedni Bugyal 5 kmTrek------
Day-8 Bedni BugyalWan17 kmTrek------

WanLohajung15 kmBy Road------
Day-9 LohajungKathgodam240 kmBy Road------
Day-10 KathgodamDelhi---Train------



Took an early morning BLR - DEL flight.  As usual it was pleasant and little cold morning at Bangaluru.  When we landed at Delhi, around 10:30 AM, the flight attendant told outside temp is 36 °C.  The moment I stepped out of the aircraft, it was evident that I was in Delhi.  It was hot !  Not like 36 °C of Bangaluru...

1st we had a little mix-up of terminal at Airport while we caught up with Chirag.  Then took Metro to reach Chandni Chauk.  Target was "prathewali gali".  Actually, last year I had been here and felt that this place has lost its charm and taste.  But still attempted it again this year.  Now, I'll not dare it again next time.  It is not worth the efforts anymore :-(

Post lunch, reached Old Delhi Rly Station to catch 4 PM train to Kathgodam.  Spent time in waiting room on 1st floor.  Age old ceiling fans from this age old building were completely useless.  Same in the train.  It was HOT all the way till 8 PM.

Finally reached Kathgodam by 11 PM.  We were not sure if we'll get food this late.  Two of our trek mates helped us with packed dinner.  They had reached Kathgodam earlier that day and would be joining us for the Trek next morning.

I had been to Kathgodam during Jun 2011 for Nainital - Kausani - Ranikhet trip.  That time, this Railway station felt real small.  We in fact spent that night at the station as taxi did not use to run between Kathgodam & Nainital during night.

This time, it was a complete change of scene.  The railway station has been renovated.  A new reservation counter, quiet many restaurants and shops that were open late night.  Taxi and buses to Nainital running late night as well.  The lighting at railway station looked impressive and this is the 1st photo that I took for this trip.

Kathgodam Railway Station

I had booked KMVN Guest House that is next to the railway station for night assuming it to be the safest option.  This is located next to a Masjid and we were sure of waking up at 5 AM :-).