All three peaks of Bhagirathi are now visible and dominates the skyline for rest of the trek. By 4'o clock I managed to reach bhojbasa (home of the bhojpatra). Here one can see few Bhojpatra trees, whose barks were used as a Vedic era paper and most our ancient texts were written over it. Gaumukh glacier was visible from here which was some 4-5 kms ahead. I was at 3775 m above sea level
I descended from the ridge to Ram baba ashram and was greeted by a cup of black tea spiced with local herbs which was wonderful. The ashram consists of one kitchen made out of wood and rocks and 5-6 tents where not more than 10-15 people were taking the night halt.
That pinching headache which keeps coming after Bhojwasa was constant now. As soon as the sun goes down the temperature falls like a skydiver. I put on cap, gloves, mufler and what not but the cold was irresistible. More signs of altitude sickness now kick in. Breathless, constant headache, gastric, high pulse rate has taken over the body. Soon the dinner was announced at 5.30 pm. Trekking full day with roughly 17 kms, I was expected to eat double but was only able to take half of the appetite. All thanks to this high altitude sickness which came along with loss of apitite. By 6 I was in Bed in a big army tent shared by 5 Russians and one panditji, who was also their guide. I slipped under my sleeping bag and pull over the ashram quilt and waited for the body to get warmer and praybed to be able to acclimatize by morning. Due to exhaustion, I slept within minutes only to wake up after ½ an hour on account of breathlessness and it continues throughout the night. It was the longest night I can remember in recent times. With no electricity it was pitch dark inside the tent and I kept on gasping for breath at regular intervals with constant headache, nausea and cold to keep me awake for most of the night. Nightmares keep coming and I did not have a choice, but to wait under layers for this dark night to end.
Gaumukh is an ice glacier under the ‘Bhagirathi’ and 'Siva ling' mountains which is the source of the Ganga. To reach there you have to walk 18kms from the Gangotri town through the Gangotri National Park, and for that you need to get permission from the national forest authority. We initially thought of getting permit the next morning but Jayveer said that it’s better to get permit then itself so that we could start our trekking early in the morning. So went to the forest office. Even though it was closed by that time, we got the office opened and got permit using Jayveer’s influence! You have to provide the Id proof of all the members who want to travel and also the details of your guide or porters if any, accompanying you.