A wisecrack know-all once quipped - Mountains Call, you'd be pretty damn sure they do.
Just go. Take all the inspiration from all those who have taken the effort to motivate you in life and have advised you to leave everything and go out and explore, just do it for them. And this is where you will have to go. Don’t care a rats butt, just go.
The bulleted format, lest a presentation, just so we have something interesting with a bullet -
1. Reach Delhi - If you are reading this you have come far enough already. Book that ticket. #justgo
2. Train to Kathgodam - There are trains to Kathgodam, Uttaranchal, from Delhi. So this is also a no brainer.
3. Drive to Lohajung
- This is one of the most amazing rides you would have in country. Remember to stop by and look at the mellow creeks.
- The more willing ones out there, please do ship your motorbikes as far as Kathgodam and then begin the trip.
4. Lohajung is a quaint beautiful settlement which has refused to accept civilization and its associated bureaucracy. You might want to leave it that way.
- Lohajung is the basecamp for a number of trekkers enrout Trishul Peak, Brahmataal, Nandgomthi, Roopkund Pas etc.
- Our guide here was Kundan Chacha (Kundan Uncle) - Well he was in his early 60's who didn’t use a trekking pole, wore only three layers, walked on air and never stopped for a drink of water during the climb. For some reason he loved his jacket pockets, mostly because he didn’t subscribe to wearing gloves. Do not derive any inspiration to ape him, it doesn’t work.
5. The Camps -
- Camp 1 - One on the way up this first one on the snow at ~8500 ft. This was on a small valley over looking the endless ranges of the Himalayas.
- Camp 2 - One on the top near the Brahmataal (Brahma's lake)at ~11000 ft. This was on a mountain wall, well shielded from the cold winds. We peaked at -5°C.
- Camp 3 - One on the way back, amidst a thicket. You would love this place for the warmth it could offer at -2°C. Oh yes, a snow leopard or a boar could find you here, if they are lucky. Yes the toilets were in tents too, on snow.
6. Trek- You would gain about 1200 feet each day, spread over 5 hours on average. While you begin with the romantic country, with an entire colony of rhododendrons, at the end of day one you would bid a brief adieu to the tree line. The trek on day 2 was the toughest with 4 feet of talcum like snow. We started the trek at 3 in the afternoon and only began to realize the 600 feet climb down was the easiest part when we reached Brahmataal. The climb up the steep to the camp and the onset of the darkness of the Himalayan night, will almost make you forget noticing the beautiful sunset which paints the world gold. But you stand before them all, humbled and contrite. Here I felt
- none of my feet
- the ground only when the person ahead was sinking, showing us where not to step
- the starlight hitting the snow clad valleys
- the femoris, hamstring, lateralis shrieking their magnus out
- helpless about the fact that I did not have enough juice to simply stop and thump that two-ton dslr hanging around my neck
Back in the camp, you might end up having a new found respect for your primary school science teacher who once said, humans topped the evolution race because they knew how to make fire.
Back to Lohajung and with a llittle niceties to the owner of the inn you might be lucky to have some chicken and rum. As you hit the road back to Kathgodam, 'civilization' dawns. The snow goes, the creeks slither and the tree line, again. You need a good dose of polluted air to wake you back up and get on the ride back home.
I did end up believing in it - The Mountains are calling and I must go.
Next Stop - Roopkund.