Date: 24 March 2018
Today was the start of our trek and we all were happily having our breakfast at the basecamp, Sari village, Uttarakhand. Then as instructed we started packing our bags, collected all the required trekking equipment, Eco bags (these are part of a green trail initiative by Indiahikes where we tie a cloth bag around our waist during the entire trek collecting all the waste along the trail and go dump it in the waste separated bags at their campsites, later on which they will dispose it in a proper manner) and then geared up for the first day of our trek.
We started around 7.30 am in the morning after a quick briefing on how to use a trek pole by our beloved trek leader, Bhupi. We had two trek guides who were actually related – Manoj Chachaji and his nephew who’s name was Rahul. We had to follow a norm wherein Chachaji would lead the trek and no one was supposed to go in front of him and Rahul would be the sweeper meaning he would be at the end making sure no one will be behind him. The trek leader would be shuffling between front and end making sure everyone was ok. So hence we started. The initial part of the trek was a gradual ascent on the stony trail starting from the village and it was a very tiring one as we still had to get adjusted to hiking.
After half an hour or so, the ascent ended and we reached a beautiful viewpoint on top of a hill. Here we got our very first view of the mountain massif called Chaukambha – As the name suggests it consists of 4 peaks and peak III and IV are supposedly still unclimbed and are the highest unclimbed peaks in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas. Everyone was excited to see the Himalayan mountains getting closer by the time. We stopped for around 10 minutes and everyone got busy in taking pictures.
Then we continued the trek whose trail began to turn greener by each step, then we entered a forest patch. The air here was so pure I cannot even explain, I can say that I was breathing such fresh unpolluted air for the first time in my life and with each breath, I could feel my energy levels getting higher! At times when the fast trekkers used to reach early and wait for others to join, Chachaji used to keep us entertained and busy with his unique riddles he had in store for us and his sense of humour. When we used to start the trek after the break he used to ask the riddle and till our next break all of us used to crack our heads in search of the answer. This was an excellent exercise to our mind since we wouldn’t even realize when we reached our next break point.
After almost 3-4 hours we found ourselves walking out of the forest towards a beautiful lake called Deoriatal. This was our first campsite which we reached before noon and had the whole day to ourselves. This campsite was really stunning where the lake was so clear we could see the clear reflection of the snow-cladded mountains falling on it. During this trek we were supposed to bring our lunch box and a cup ourselves (I’d recommend to take stainless steel ones instead of plastic since they are easy to wash with cold water and the food remains goes off easily).
Video of when we entered the Deoriatal campsite – link.
After finishing the lunch, I went off to wander near the banks of the lake and finally found a spot where I could lie down peacefully looking at the clouds above. This place around the lake and this entire campsite is known to be a bird watcher’s paradise since a huge variety of birds can be found here; make sure to carry your camera and binoculars if you’re ever planning on spotting or clicking some beautiful pictures of them! This place and its view was so picturesque that no amount of pictures can do justice to it.
After taking rest for sometime I thought of going and taking some pictures of myself. I had bought an action camera recently (Brand – Eken) especially for this trip in my hope to create a vlog (which I did and it did not come out that well, here’s the Youtube link anyways). So it could also be controlled through Wifi using a mobile app and I was doing some trails by clicking pictures and videos by myself.
So later I was joined by Nishant, a fellow trekker who had become a good friend by then and we started taking a small round the lake. There is a watch tower kind of a thing and we climbed and took in the amazing view from there. There was wind blowing on our faces and it felt so pure.
Then we were called back to our campsite to have some ice breaking session. We played a lot of fun games including name games and it did work; we got to know everyone almost instantly!
Here’s a fun video of the name game with a fellow trekker who is not an Indian guessing all our names correctly at the first attempt even though its pronunciation was difficult – link.
Evening we were all made to gather again and Manoj chachaji and Bhupi took us for a evening walk to a nearby forest trail. We thought it would be an easy walk and hence were asked not to carry anything other than Eco bags, so we didn’t even take our mobile phones or trek poles. There was absolutely little or no trail in the path which we went and we were blindly following Chachaji at this point as it was also getting a bit tiring. At one point I think all were really blind because we couldn’t suddenly spot him! It was like he just disappeared from the trail! We were all confused and asking Bhupi if he knew anything for which he replied – you just have to figure out yourselves. After a lot of requests and calling out to him, one of us spotted him smiling at us sitting on top of a tree that was right above us! So much for that scene. He came down and further down the trail we encountered a cave. Chachaji told us that many years ago when tents and other things was not yet available, people used to take shelter at that cave.
Then we came out of the forest patch to find ourselves near the watch tower we had been that time. It was exactly sunset time and all of us climbed on the tower to watch the sunset. We all sat down like school children and Chachaji started telling us the story of the mythological importance of Deoriatal Lake. It is believed that the Gods bathed here and also as per legend, it goes that the Pandavas were questioned by the Yaksha at this spot. He also told us that this lake was formed when Bhima was feeling thirsty and hence decided to build this lake upon Yudhistir’s advice. Listening to such stories, besides the lake itself, with the backdrop of sunset falling upon the Himalayas, upon the watch tower with winds getting chilly by the minute, I was overwhelmed.
The weather started getting cold as the sun went down. Hence we all rushed back to our respective tents and bundled up with layers of warm clothing. Some of us came out and tried helping people who were trying to click night pictures of the tent. We used to go sit inside each of the tent holding up a torch so that the yellow tent would glow and a nice picture would be its result. After all the experiment we were tired and decided to retire for the day.
Later sometime in the night after most of us had slept, we heard Bhupi call out to us for star gazing. Even though initially I did not want to step out in the cold again, I am glad I did. The spectacular view of the stars we got to see was so amazing! Bhupi was into stargazing and knew a lot of specific information about them; he showed us the Sirius, the Orion, the Saptharishis and many more constellations. Looking at all of them in awe, we chatted for some more time and then all of us bundled up back into our tents.
Types of tents:
- Kitchen tent: This is a large tent where all the trekkers gather for breakfast, lunch and dinner carrying their own lunch box and cup for tea/milk.
- Stay tent: This is where we sleep inside our cozy sleeping bags at night and also where our bags will be kept. Indiahikes gives a liner if the weather is too cold since sleeping bag itself doesn’t suffice under minus degrees
- Toilet tent: Usually in numbers of only one or two depending on number of trekkers, this is a small tent built a little away from the other tents and it is a dry toilet meaning no water is to be used here. We are supposed to carry our own tissue paper roll and there is a mixture of sand and coco peat kept in a stack inside along with a showel. After finishing our business, we are supposed to cover it properly and step out. A dry toilet may sound gross but it never was and will be once you’re on the trek.
Bonus : Early morning picture of Chaukambha and its magnificient reflection upon lake Deoriatal!
If you read till here, thank you so much!
Here’s the link to my next blog which is Day 3 of the trek.