Trekking in the high altitudes of the Himalayas - Roopkund and Junargali - Part 1

23rd Sep 2016

Mt. Trishul

Photo of Trekking in the high altitudes of the Himalayas - Roopkund and Junargali - Part 1 by Anand Verma

I have heard people talking about their travel, different places they have been to, people they have met with, new cultures they have had the privilege to know. Here is my story of a wonderful journey to Roopkund and Junargali in Uttarakhand, India.

I was looking for the second high altitude trekking destination post 2015 when I had trekked to the Valley of Flowers. One of my friends suggested the name of Roopkund. I did try to find out whatever I could on the internet about the trek. I had talked to a couple of local guides around the area in Uttarakhand and asked for their charges per head as few of my friends had told me that they will also be travelling with me on the trek. In fact, Jishnu, who is a very dear friend of mine since the college days and who introduced me to the world of trekking in 2015 when we went to the Valley of Flowers with few other friends, was the one who suggested Roopkund to us. But for some reason or the other they went to the Spiti Valley this time and I got my reservation done for Roopkund and booked my tickets to Delhi and further to Kathgodam and back.

So, with some preparations for the trek and after having bought some of the required stuffs I was eagerly waiting for the day 23rd of September when I had to start my journey from Bangalore.

Day 1

Day 1: It was Friday, 23rd of September finally. Few of the trekkers of my group had interacted earlier itself and we had decided to meet before starting the journey. Thus, I met one of my fellow trekkers, Sachin, who later became one of my tent mates and a very good friend of mine. We interacted for a couple of minutes at the Bangalore airport and then he left as his was a different flight to Delhi. I started my journey from Bangalore and flew to Delhi where I met another fellow trekker and a good friend of mine Nitish who, I must say, was full of energy throughout the entire trek. I boarded on an overnight train to Kathgodam. There were a couple of other fellow trekkers whom I met at Kathgodam. We started our journey on a Tempo Traveller from Kathgodam to Lohajung which is at an altitude of 7600 feet and our base camp was set up at Lohajung itself. The cost of the vehicle was borne by us, though it was arranged by the trek planner company. We had a couple of stops along the journey, first, to have breakfast and then at Kausani to have lunch. It was a very exquisite view of the mountains from the hotel were we had stopped to have lunch. This was our Day 1 on 24th of September. We had reached Lohajung in the evening and had our evening snacks. We were briefed about the trek and do's and don'ts of trekking in the mountains. I did meet my friend Krishnan who became my tent mate later along with Sachin and we were allotted the same room that evening. Another group that had just descended after summiting Roopkund was there and they were so joyful that we could listen to their songs and cheers of accomplishment. We had our dinner and slept at the base camp.

From the restaurant where we had lunch

Photo of Kausani, Uttarakhand, India by Anand Verma
Day 2

Day 2: After having breakfast the next morning, we drove to a village called Wan which was about 13 km drive and it took us about 45 minutes to reach. The trek started from Wan itself. We trekked through Latu Devta Temple where one of our guides whom we lovingly called Viru bhai stopped us and explained about the temple and big Oak tree nearby. After about 5 minutes we resumed our trek and entered into a deep forest area where Viru bhai told us how anyone could get lost in that forest without a local person to guide and I must say the forest was so dense that whatever he was saying was indeed evident and he taught me a lesson on how to put the rucksack bag on to my back there itself. After some time during the trek we reached Rann-Ka-Dhar. There was a 'dhaba' at Rann-Ka-Dhar where we had drinking water and few of my fellow trekkers had something to eat. After resting at the dhaba for about 15 minutes we descended to Neel Ganga. The water of Neel Ganga was very refreshing and all of us halted there for about 5-10 minutes. The gurgling of the river had a very soothing effect on me and I got refreshed and energized during the halt. Few of my fellow trekkers filled their water bottles with the water of the river. Then we started the ascend. This was a long ascend through dense forest and we halted at one more dhaba in between. Another group was already there and they were having lunch. After about 5 minutes of the halt we started our ascend once again. We reached a very widespread dense forest and stopped at one more place there. At each stops we used to have some water and I had chocolates during this halt. Krishnan came and sat near to me on the roots of one of the trees. We began our trek in about 5-10 minutes and I could feel that our next camp was somewhere nearby. We had to trek over lots of dry leaves along the way and mud also and here comes our first camp, our target camp 1 for the second day, Ghaeroli Patal, which is at an altitude of about 10,600 feet. I had reached there at about 3PM. There were a couple of tents put already for us, a tent where some people were cooking, a storage or two and shed to have lunch. It was surrounded by tall trees and there were two outlets of water. Viru bhai showed us few relaxing exercises and we had to practice them to relax. All other fellow trekkers kept coming and participating in the exercise. After some time another group of trekkers who belonged perhaps to a European country came to the campsite and they started putting their tents nearby and cooking in a nearby area. I talked to their guide and it turned out that he was from Goa and also knew few places in Bangalore. I was lucky to have my friends Krishnan and Sachin in my tent and we talked for some time then.

I couldn't connect through my phone to talk to my father and cousin brother that night, so I asked the phone from one of our guides, Krishna, who was kind enough to let me have his phone and I could message my cousin brother that I am safe as even with his phone I couldn't make a call because of the weak signal. We had dinner and slept in our tents.

Along the way to camp 1

Photo of Gharoli Patal, Roopkund Trail, Uttarakhand, India by Anand Verma

Day 3: I woke up early in the morning and it was very cold out there. We finished our breakfast and started our trek once again.

To be contd...