Har-Ki-Doon, the hanging valley of gods is a treat for trekkers. This
moderate trek takes you to one of the least explored regions of Garhwal.
The trek from Osla to Har-ki-doon is through terraced mountain fields,
lush green grassy land and conifer forests. Har-ki-Doon, situated at an
elevation of 3566 meters is surrounded by glittering peaks and dense
forests. The forests are rich in wild life and are a veritable paradise
for bird-watchers and nature lovers.
Day 01: Dehradun
A beautiful town growing up to a city. Pleasant weather. Unfortunately, we did not have much time in hand to move around the place, excepting the market where we bought an amazing pair of trekking shoes – a smart decision. Had dinner at the camp, after an informal round of introduction and a formal one post that.
Day 02: Base Camp Sankri – 5800 ft.
Its about 200 km from Dehradun – but takes around 8-9 hours. But the view is worth every bit of it. We go up the Yamuna Valley. Then up Tons river, one of the major tributary of Yamuna. The rapids were a beauty to watch, surrounded by the mighty Himalayas. An amazing road to drive on, assuming you are skilled enough.
Lunch stop was at Purola. Had “pack lunch” – a term you would get too
used to once you go for the trek. This was the last village in the
region to have connectivity through telephone. Reached Sankri at around
16:00 hrs. Welcomed by the field director and others. Got to the tents
and unwinded a bit. That was followed by the usual tea session. Had a
walk in the village.
Then came dinner – fairly decent stuff. Lastly, the “camp-fire” ceremony. This is a tricky part. It can be damn cool – if you have a group which is enthu – else it can be a real bad end to the day.
Day 03: Base Camp Sankri – 5800 ft.
Bed tea – why did the Brits invent tea… and that too served at 5 in the morning! Human Rights, anyone?
Had a light exercise – the definition of “light is relative”. It’s a jog for a kilometer and some free hand exercises. Then back to camp – breakfast – pack lunch – a really heavy backpack – and off to “Acclimatization Trek”.
This starts with Rappelling. A neat wall of about 25-30 feet. Great experience for first timers like me. Then you go for a trek in the nearby region. We gained about a 1000 feet.
We carried max possible load on us… turned out to be a good practice for the actual thing.
Back to camp. Dinner. Campfire. MILO. Goodnight.
Day 04: Juda Talao – 8,500 ft
It’s a distance of about 4 km from the base camp and an altitude gain of almost 2700 ft, implying a pretty high gradient.
Not difficult as such, but it was definitely tiring as we were gaining some good altitude and our bodies were not really accustomed to the entire funda of the trek. Difficult day for people who thought they were out for a picnic. We crossed a small village en route. That’s where we first asked people the Eternal Question – “Where is the Grass?” And we got our first view of the savior of sanity – Grass a.k.a. Marijuana – blooming in full glory in its kingdom.
The rest of the trek was pretty okay. Had a lunch break somewhere. Reached the next camp at about 1400 hrs. Then followed the “reporting and waiting for all” ritual. When everyone arrived, the camp director updated us on the schedule at the camp. And since rain was expected, we had to cancel a small nature walk nearby. But a few of us guys managed to go anyway, as one of us had been on the trek earlier.
We went to a small meadow (which also happened to be a feeding ground for wolves) or opening in the forest which had a good view of the snow clad peaks, but couldn’t get that, ‘coz of the clouds. But we did here a call of a wild animal. In all probability it was a leopard – which is local to that region – or a bear.
We got back to the camp in an hour. Then followed the soup and dinner and the usual Milo. Then after we got into the tents, the first rains, we met, started. These were accompanied by hailstones as well. Neat scene.
Day 05: Kedar Kaanta – 10,700 ft.
A relatively longer walk today. About 8 kilometers and an altitude gain of 2200 ft. The gradient was not that tough. An initial part which was fairly steep, but the rest was quite okay.
Lunch point was in a meadow. There is this concept there. Since there are a lot of trekkers on that route, the local people set up make-shift stalls at certain points where they know trekkers would rest. They provide you eggs, tea, milk and Maggi. We got fresh milk at that particular one as there are no cattle further up. You have too stick to powder milk.
The walk can be a mix of heat and chill. The sun is hot as you have direct rays hitting you. The wind is cold because of the altitude. You are really warm because of the work-out. The sweat feels cold because of the wind. End of day, you are still guessing whether you need to keep your jacket on or not.
Reached the camp at about 1500 – 1600 hrs. It was a fantastic spot. A huge open space at the foot of the Kedar Kaanta peak. The high altitude grassland, also known as “Bugyal” ended in the valley.
For a second I thought it was a hazy image due to the clouds. But it was, in fact, a series of peaks the valley looked upon. At least a dozen small peaks in a row, one behind the other. That’s when the feeling of the altitude started sinking in.
As many places in the Himalayas do, this one also had a mythological link to it. This is the region where the Kauravas, from Mahabharata, are worshipped. There was also a Karna temple on the same ground. There is an annual fair held at the same grounds, where thousands from the region gather.
Personally, I found the place to have a spooky feel to it. Didn’t know why – but it did.
Day 06: Dhunda – 10,500 ft
We left relatively early, as the walk was quite a bit tough as well as long. About 12 km and we had to climb the Kedar Kaanta peak and get to the other side, along a ridge! & Back