We were walking on the edge of the mountain. Exposed breakneck valley on one side and the other side was occupied by muscular solid overhang rock and we - small dots moving bit by bit on the narrow edge, watching our every step. While walking, I went down the memory lane, when I first heard of this mysterious, skeleton lake. A few years back, my friend shared this article of "Mysterious places in India" and Roopkund was topping the list. This high altitude glacial lake is home to hundreds of skeletons and numerous mysteries and theories. Well, I have read a few theories and stories about it from Wikipedia and a few other articles, but I had no intentions of unraveling those mysteries which are submerged in the lake. I was going to meet my mountains again and was pretty excited about it!
Our journey for this cryptic lake started from this small village name Lohajung. This cute and colorful village is enveloped by many Garhwal Himalayas and is also a base camp of treks like Roopkund, Bedni Bugyal, Brahmatal and many more. By the time we reach here, it started getting colder and misty. We were welcomed by Adrak chai and piping hot bhajiyas. A food that we and our finally stable stomach could enjoy after nearly 10 hrs of a roller coaster ride. Thanks to the super curvy winding, rugged roads of Uttarakhand!.
Our trek started the next day under the warm sun. But as we started walking, the sun started showing its mood swings, left us drenched in the sweat already. We had a long way to go. On our way, many happy faces, birds, small water streams and a greenery around, wished us luck for our further journey. After 5-6 hrs of walking, huffed and puffed us, reached a village named Didna. A cozy traditional guest house and an appetizing lunch, waiting for us. Huge open lands, ringed by humongous mountains, few small houses playing hide n seek and ever smiling faces busy with their daily chores, this village was indeed a picture worthy. After heavy heartedly bidding adieu our last comfort of wooden beds and warm quilts, we started our journey to one of the most beautiful camps of our trek - Bedni Bugyal.
Himachalis refer meadows as bugyal. It was a delightful morning. We filled our lungs with crisp, unadulterated mountain air and embarked our journey. Oak, birch and colorful rhododendrons also gave us a company. After hiking for a few hours, we came across the most exquisite part of our trek - Ali bugyal. As far as our sight can reach, we could see endless stretches of grass fields, mules peacefully grazing, clear blue skies with few white thinking clouds moving around... A picture straight out of Windows XP default wallpaper! As the sky cleared, Trishul from far away, waved at us. That day I witnessed one more mesmerizing, rose gold sunset in the mountains. A still tree, flying birds, majestic peaks of the mountains, dramatic sky, content human faces, all were soaking up in the rose gold dust the sun has left behind. I love collecting sunrises and sunsets and this one is surely going to go in my memory basket.
Birds were chirping around and the sun was gently tingling us, urging us to see how alluring are the mornings in the mountains. Leaving our desktop wallpaper camp behind, we begin walking towards one of the notorious campsite - Patar nachauni. Infamous for being too windy, this campsite has witnessed many incidences of tents literally flying in the valley. As the night was emerging, it started getting windier. I dreamt myself flying with the tent, converting this tent into the parachute! When I woke up in the morning, to my surprise, tent and I, both were very much on the ground. Damn! Maybe I could use my skills somewhere else!
We started early the next day for our summit campsite - Bhagwabasa. The journey from here was to test our patience, endurance, faith, and sanity. On our way, we had a pit stop at Kalu Vinayak temple, where we ate maggie with hail storms and rain on our shoulder and on our face. A trail till here was not easy, a steep climb on the muddy trail was no picnic. We both were walking with a heavy backpack on our back, theirs was way heavier than us yet they were walking faster, without complaining. I learned, so should we. Mules, unsung heroes of our trek, accompanied us till this campsite. Here on, we were going to witness only human footprints, in the white and brown snow.
We braced ourselves for the D-day, our summit day. We started in the wee hours in the morning, carrying a torch and will power with us. As we were climbing up, the air was getting thinner, and every step seemed tiring. My legs were shouting with the pain, lungs were cursing me for less oxygen available, my brain was stoned and mind was struggling to keep everyone sane. Amid this fight, my heart was with me, giving me the strength. Suddenly I hear people cheering with joy and I knew I was near. Few steps and I was there, next to the enigmatic Roopkund lake.
It was frozen, so were my emotions. As the sun warmed us up, my emotions thawed. A sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. We couldn't see those submerged skeletons, I didn't want to see it either. Mountains were calling me again, and I just came to say them "Hello!"