Today’s plan was to continue the ridgeline traverse starting from Rudrapayag to Chirbhattiya seperating the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys. We had a peaceful and comfy night in the guest room of our host at Dungri village. The lady of the house woke us up with a cup of hot chai.
We kindly refused breakfast and we’re on our way. We crossed a first pass just above Dungri village at 2400m where a nice path contoured below the ridgeline. The trail turned North into a serene pine forest traversing the valley slope high above the road below. The initially clear trail eventually faded out in the forest making us a climb up steeply to a water pipe (supply to village) higher up.
There was a narrow trail next to the water pipe which was sometimes landslides making us scramble along the steep valley slope holding onto the pipe. We eventually got to a road near the village of Ghengar near a small pass crossing. We found a dhaba and after a solid 2 hour traverse along a narrow trail we’re ready for breakfast.
We had chowmin, egg burger, black chai and cream buns till the tummies were full. We bought some oranges for on the way. We now got onto a clear trail that climbed up and followed the ridgeline above till the scenic hamlet of Sanknyana. A friendly lady offered us tea with biscuits and small oranges. The late morning sun finally made it through the misty morning.
We enjoyed basking in the warm sun rays on the rooftop. The lady offered us food which we kindly denied as we just had breakfast. We continued along a nice path taking us through a small saddle pass near the next hamlet of Maithana. From here the path got us to a touristic temple bordered with hundreds of bells. Many locals were visiting the mandir which even had a few small dhabas.
The path continued behind the temple contouring around a small peak to the Saundakhal pass, the third one in a row today. From here the path contours around the next peak on the ridgeline to the Dwarikhal pass. From here We slightly descend towards the road side village of Saklana. A local insisted to stop for a tea break but we decided to move on in the interest of time.
From here we enter a forest region marked as green on the map. We entered a lush green valley where we had to climb up 500m across a next pass. The initially wide rock path became a frequented trail climbing up steeply and finally nearly faded out near a deserted dwelling in ruins. From here the trail got clear again climbing steeply up on the grass slope above across the pass.
We now descended along a clear path into the opposite valley through two dwellings until the road side village of Agar. Beautiful green / yellow mustard farmlands bordered the picturesque settlement. We took a short snack break in a small road side shop before climbing up to our target of the day – Chirbhattiya, a village near the Chirpatya Khal, an important road connection between Alaknanda and Mandakini river valleys.
The path climbed up steadily from Agar into the forest ascending above the farmlands of the neighboring villages. We initially proceeded as per the Survey map until the trail took a wrong turn and got us scrambling up a steep slope to the ridgeline above instead of contouring up to our destination. Sampath my co trekker was low on energy and we took a few breaks while climbing.
Just before the top we got onto a nice wide trail that took us straight to Chirbhattiya. Meanwhile the skies were turning dark with frequent thundering . We rushed ahead afraid we would get caught in cold rain at this higher altitude. We reached the Chirpatya Khal while the sun was beautifully setting in the West as the skies in the East were turning darker.
We got into a small road side dhaba and snuggled around a wood burner. A cold wind was blowing across the road pass. We ordered dinner and finally the flood gates of heavens opened – a big hazel shower turned the road white. Not feeling like sleeping in the cold rain we got a cosy warm room on top of the dhaba for 100 bucks. We ended the evening with candlelight black tea and cream rolls.