The next morning we were up by 6 am. We showered & washed & re-packed our bags & put on our trekking gear. Looking at one self in the mirror with all that trekking gear gets you so pumped. We were ready. True to his word, the jeep was at the door at 7 am.
The route to Kharkiya is a 4 hr drive covering around 100 km. It started raining the moment we crossed Bageshwar. We took a pit stop at Kapkot which is on the way to Loharkhet, the actual base camp for this trek. There are two ways of going about the trek. The first is to start the trek from Loharkhet itself & reach Dhakuri which is an 11 km hike. Camp at Dhakuri & the following day trek down another 9 km to Khati village. The other alternative, which was the one we chose, is to drive till Kharkiya & then trek 5 km directly to Khati village, saving yourself a day. Though, I may add, my friends took the alternate route when they did the same trek a year back & vouch for the fact that the view from Dhakuri Top is the best one on the trail. So, chose accordingly.
We spent an hour at Kapkot having breakfast while the taxi driver got more passengers. The road from Kapkot to Kharkiya is quite treacherous. Its not the most comfortable journey, but the eagerness of starting the trek gets you through the discomfort.
We reached Kharkiya by 12 noon & started the 5 km trek to Khati (2210 mt). The route is a gradual decent for about 2 km followed by a straight path & an eventual climb of 2 odd km. Now, since this was the first time I was trekking & add to it the heavy weight of the bag, I have to say I was very slow & feelling exhausted with every step. It was quite a challenge to finish the 5 km trek. Eventually, we did reach Khati around 4:30 pm.
Khati is probably the most beautiful village I have seen till date. You are welcomed into the village with step-farmlands, traditional kumaoni stone houses, laughing children & all this is framed with Mt. Nanda Kot in the background. It is quite literally a fairy tale village. Unfortunately for me, I was too damn tired to enjoy this scenic village & instead headed straight to the K.M.V.N guest house which is a little climb at the end of the main village. There, I happened to meet a family friend who runs a beautiful resort in the town of Binsar & is a frequent trekker himself. He was there with the employees of Hans foundation, a non profit organization working towards improving the quality of life & education in an around the village of Khati. He was helping set up a satellite linked office for them to work out off. Apart from offering us free dinner & countless cups of hot tea, he also helped us get a spot in the veranda of the guest house to pitch our tent as it had started raining by then & the guest house was already fully booked. I was thoroughly moved by the kindness shown to us, especially when I was nearly exhausted from the trek.
Before dinner we chatted with the employees of the Hans foundation who were mostly men & women in the 20's. They were from the Bangalore & Delhi offices and had spent close to a month recceing places around the village. I was fascinated that their job gave them the opportunity to travel to such a quaint place & to be honest I was a little envious. Nevertheless, I was very thankful to them for having taken the initiative to improve the lives of the people of the village since being from the state, I have seen how tough life in the hills is.
After a sumptuous dinner of dal, rice & veggies, we bid goodbye to our hosts. Post a night cap we dozed off, rather uncomfortably, since we had never ever slept in a tent or sleeping bag before.