Day 3: Didna to Bedni Bugyal
The sun in these parts of the world comes up at an unearthly hour of 4:30 but since we were sleeping in a big room which had only two doors and no windows it was not possible for us to determine if the day had begun. Reluctantly I came out of my rajjai and had a peek at the outside world, already some people were up but the makeshift toilets were free. Going for the natures call in a makeshift tin structure with the wind outside always banging on the door is not a very comfortable feeling. Today, choice was available to select between veg and non-veg for the packed breakfast, the non-veg consisted of two boilded eggs whereas the veg pack had two boiled potatoes. Swapnil the camp leader made us do some stretches with Naren adding some punch lines from the shilpa shetty videos. Now finally it was time for us to embark on the most difficult part of the trek, Swapnil divided us into three groups, the slow, the medium and the fast. I and Sandeep had become trek buddies after we completed yesterdays trek together. At first both of us opted for the medium group but suddenly it started looking to me that the medium group was going to stick to group discipline to the T and would not tolerate anybody breaking the flank and moving ahead. Finally at the last moment both of us switched our allegiance to the fast group which was led by Rohit, a freak in no uncertain terms as he was freaking out all the team members with his audacious climbing which was bordering on madness on many occasion. Surely there was not going to be any team play here and that is exactly what we wanted also, to be able to go at our own pace.
The slow team was the first to leave, followed by the medium team and the fast team was allowed to take off only after 10 minutes from the medium team. The trek started off on a path which passed along a small stream and then in no time the Oak forests began. The path like yesterday was again very uphill and meandered through the thick foliages. From the gaps between the trees we could get glimpses of the valley now and then and based on that we were making our own assessments as to how much distance we might have covered.
Our leader’s life ambition now was to overtake the slow and the medium teams as soon as possible and took upon the ominous job of motivating the team members by running up and down the track, man this guy was looking really inhuman, where was he was getting all that energy from. The forest nevertheless was a bit monotonous and we took almost close to three hours to see the trees around us thinning out. The landscapes suddenly started changing and behold in front us stood the famous Ali-bugyal. After an uphill trek of about half an hour we reached the Ali bugyal. The fast team had reached the top first to the utmost satisfaction of our leader.
We took a very long break of more than an hour here as we waited for all the team members to join us. The majestic peak of Trishul was in sight and would remain to be so for the next 4 days of our trek. I had my breakfast of Aloo paratha and boiled potatoes and then explored the flora of the Bugyals. Apparently during the months of September these Bugyals are decked with countless flowers, unfortunately we were a bit early to witness this event. From this point onwards the trek was to be an easy walk on the Bugyals till we reach the Bedni camp which was situated on the Bedni bugyal. The landscape was straight out of the Microsofts trademark wall paper.
After everyone had had their food we started out for the Bedni camp. The path is more or less flat except for one region wherein we had to climb up a hillock. On this path we had our first glimpses of the Himalayan vultures, the Lammergeier also called as the Bearded Vulture. Apparently these vultures disdain from feeding on rotting meat and their diet consist of mainly bone marrow. They break open the bones by dropping them from a height.
On our path we also encountered some wild horses. There was also a foal grazing among the herd. Some people in our group even got their photos shot with the foal. Clearly these horses had gotten used to the human presence and were the least perturbed on our being there and taking photographs.
Finally at around 2:15 in the afternoon we reached the Bedni bugyal camp. Bedni had some man made structures and was not as untouched as Ali-bugyal. The reason for this is the fact that there is no water source at Ali but in Bedni a water source is present. For the next three days we were supposed to stay in tents and we could spot around 5-6 tents here.
Ajoy was the camp leader for Bedni and he welcomed us in. Tomato soup was ready on our arrival and after drinking loads of water we had our soup. After all the members of the team had arrived we were allowed to get into our tents. The tent was more or less perfect for the four of us and looked capable of withstanding rain or bad weather. After our lunch we went and sat on a grassy path overlooking a beautiful valley. The Himalayan vultures were full of activity in this valley. Naren and Jaggi joined us here and we got to know that Naren was a Para-gliding instructor also, he had an in depth knowledge of these vultures and it was great listening to him. Finally it started getting cold and we lumbered into our tents, in the horizon we could see clouds accumulating and after about half an hour it started raining. Our main worry now was, how will we have our dinner, since we were almost chilled to our bones inside the tent itself. Everyone was peeking through their tent flaps to check whether the food was ready. The rain finally stopped before dinner time and we had our dinner in the biting cold. Washing your plates is not very easy when the water is close to freezing. Krishna and Satish slept near the tent flaps whereas I and Sandeep were safely and snugly located in between. The reason for the arrangement being Satish usually gets up very early and Krishna was supposedly the last one to wake up, little did he know that he was going to go sleepless for three consecutive nights. The night was more or less eventless except for some water condensing on the tent ceiling, and Krishna stepping on Satish’s feet while trying to get out of the tent for a leak in the middle of the night. The sleeping bags given to us were also very good.
Day 4: Bedni Bugyal to Ghora Lotani
At around dawn I heard Satish shouting to us from outside that he was getting an excellent view of the mountains around. Cursing him for having woken up so early we went out to catch a part of the action. The view was really fantastic. We could clearly see the peaks of Chaukamba, Neel kant and Trishul as the whole region was cloud free.
Today’s trek was supposed to be a very easy one; in fact the guides were saying that it was nothing but a simple walk. One of the highlights of my previous trek was going out in the open for natures call, out here we had makeshift toilets at all but two of the camps, and hence literally we missed out on the fun. After having our breakfast we again divided ourselves into three groups and this time Satish also joined us in the fast group. As the guides had stated earlier for most of the walk there was only a very gradual accent and hence didn’t bother us much. Everyone was in very high spirits and we encountered groups returning from the top, who had completed the Roopkund trek, after exchanging some pleasantries we moved on. Most of the walk was along a mountain and about some 50 meters below its top, hence we could have a view of only one side of the valley. After about a couple of hours of easy walk we came to some kind of a pass wherein we could cross over the mountain and could get on to the other side. At this point the view was simply fantastic; it was one of those moments, when you are least expecting to find anything and suddenly in front of you appears a beautiful vista. The team was asked to take some time out here, we were told that the camp was very close by and it was a gradual decent from now onwards. Everyone were surprised as to how can the trek get over so quickly, anyway I was not complaining. After yesterdays climb this was turning out to be a very welcome rest.
After more than an hour’s break we started for the camp and reached the place within less than an hour. The tents were being set up by the porters and most of us roamed around the place gulping in the fantastic view that the mighty Himalayas was presenting to us. The weather was perfectly clear till now and probably all my worries for the poncho were now turning out to be completely unfounded. Ajoy, the camp leader from Bedni had accompanied us here and he would come further up with us till Roopkund as well. For lunch we had Kichdi which was spiced up to the extent that it tasted like our south Indian Bisi-Bele Bath. In the afternoon the wind started blowing heavily and all of us huddled back into our tents. One disadvantage of having a clear sky is that you cannot sit in your tents, the sun beats down on the tent and we literally start getting cooked up under the sheets. Finally braving the wind was considered to be a far better option than sitting inside the tent. Ghora lotani is almost at the end of the Bugyals, the Bugyals which had started at Ali terminates at Ghora Lotani. The horses were supposed to turn back from this point onwards, but the poor animals were not given their due rights and the mules were made to climb up till Baghuva basa which was the final camp of this trek.
The four of us roamed around the area admiring the place, it is a completely different as well as humbling feeling to be standing in front of these mighty mountains, the mind feels a lot calmer under their shadows. Everyone were plotting and thinking on the course that we were supposed to take tomorrow and the temple of Kalu vinayak was visible from this camp, it was like a tiny speck on the top of the mountain. Krishna was furiously thinking on his strategy and the other members of the trek team also had some anxious look on their faces considering the difficulty of the task ahead.
The dinner was served pretty late here too and washing the plates was again a very big pain. After every one had gone back to their tents, I decided to indulge myself in some night photography and took out my tripod but unfortunately it was not possible for me to take good snaps with my camera. Finally Krishna also came out after hearing my loud lamentations that they were missing a really good opportunity, With his Canon 50D we were able to take some decent pictures of the night and the stars. The silence of the Himalayan night was really beautiful, It was like a poetry but very difficult to explain. After this short photography session, we called it a day and Scooby dived into our sleepy bags.