Trekking was always something I looked up to since my graduation, that’s when I was introduced to it. My graduation was from Pune and living on Western Ghats this is something that would come natural to most of the people, the only difference is some would be ok with the smaller scale of it and do it on a very casual basis while other would rave to the next level and take it beyond that. I was somewhere in the middle path, who would do the extensive walks on difficult terrains only to de-clutter my brain from the pseudo life that has been lingering on.
To start with, I was a bad student of geography but one jilt got me realizing that this was something I had to know better and no sooner I realized a personal connect with it. I went on and on reading it, just as a part of my personal general knowledge base and figuring out my bucket list. It was mostly international but there were few Indian jewels in it too. One such place was Sundardhunga, a place mostly unheard of, not visible on Google maps or large scale networks but strictly a trekkers paradise considering its vast beauty and it is open only 45 odd days a year.
It was around first week of June in 2011, my trip started with the sad bus ride to Kathgodam from New Delhi via an overnight bus, I was a college going guy who barely had money to shell out on anything that was remotely luxurious too. This was not going to be an easy one as this trek is generally done in 2 weeks span with a relaxed roll but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time and being the usual maniac I was, I happen to find a few other rotten heads like mine who were willing to do this all in 1 week as a challenge and remember this was a complete trek of 100 kilometers ultimately taking me to 14.5k ft height passing thru a bear range and back with no guide and no external help, where we carried our food and tents.
Early morning drop was quiet a welcome sign for me as I was looking to get in the flow as soon as possible, we jumped into a nearby jeep that took almost 8 long hours of ride as it was the foothills and the last motor-able point for us knows as Loharkhet; By the time we reached here it was already around 6. A thumb rule to follow on treks of uncharted territory is to pitch your tent before its dark because you don’t know what lies ahead of you and it becomes a major problem pitching one too. Drained as we were from all day’s travel, I just wanted to sleep as we had to get up really early and make the most of our days ahead. We were floating in the dreamboat by 9, ready to wake up early next day.
There is some magic about a trek if you are an enthusiastic kind, It does not matter how tired are lazy you were the last day you would automatically wake up early under the lap of stars and early is mostly like 4 or 5. 4 AM worked fine for us as we pulled out our cooking station (a micro cylinder with burner head & a big deep vessel) poured in pulses, rice and a dollop of ghee and that’s that, nothing fancy as such. Washed our utensils and on our way to the place all with a big 20 kg backpack. I have a simple way of locating the way by looking at the highest peak and trying to locate a few homes, which means some people live there i.e. there is a way and just head in that direction and if I am lucky I find people on the way who guide me with the routes.
The Khataliya village was our base for the the tough and mostly vertical climb here on, Here on it was only 14 more kilometers but the height to be scaled was around 6K feet all in one single day.
2 long days of khichdi breakfast, Maggi luches and khichdi dinner with an occasion protein bar on side as bounty and an extremely rough terrain with creaking bamboo bridges stitched over 5K ft vertical fall and 20 ft vertical rock climbing. The only moment of happiness and relief we got here was a small waterfall where all guys bared it all in one moment and just jumped in for a Hamam style bathing experience, it was already 3rd day and we hadn’t had a bath and I guess that’s usual on treks. Spend one good hour bathing and washing our clothes there as we went ahead we were so happy and totally unaware of the massive challenge ahead. We reached this junction of river which split in three equal sized streams (we were following the streams initially, part of tips and tricks) all in 3 separate direction, one of the right was a vertical fall which was ruled out major confusion was between the one ahead and the one on left. Reached here at 3 pm and scratched out heads for almost 2 hours thinking which way to take.
…..To be continued as part 2 soon, stay tuned !!