Another peaceful night in a comfortable room at the home of a friendly local at Piplidhar. Today’s target was two cross overs: from Takoli Gad to Nallchami Gad to Bhilangna river valleys. Our host woke us up with milk chai and biscuits and walked us to the nearby hamlet of Piplidhar. We decided on a light breakfast of chai, cream rolls before scaling the Gauria Khal pass a 600m ascent.
We packed up some aloo pakoda and chikkis for the traverse ahead. A nice path climbed up through small settlements of Choparya, Kohar, Haldephar and Ringolgaon tucked high up the valley slope. A few houses were carrying up building materials soon to be obsoleted by a new road being constructed. Beautiful views on the valley revealed as we climbed higher up.
We reached the pass at 2000m in less than one hour. A small mandir is located on top from where we got mesmerizing views on snow clad peaks of the Southern Gangotri section. The path dropped down into virgin green forest on the other side, a 900m drop into the Nallchami Gad river valley.
The path initially hair pinned down steeply through chola forest before entering into more open pine forest. We spotted a couple of ruins over taken by the jungle. The morning sun rays beautiful lit up the forest. We finally hit the valley filled with bright green terrace farms. We crossed the crystal clear stream to the hamlet of Muyalgaon.
We dropped into a small road side dhaba who was glad to see some customers in an otherwise quiet place. We ordered egg buns and Maggie as a late breakfast. I sat outside in the warm sun as it felt chill inside the shade. A couple of black teas and expired cream rolls to top up and we were on our way to the next pass, a thousand meter ascent to cross over into the Bhilangna river valley.
Opposite the dhaba a concrete path took us up into a serene pine forest above. The sounds of the road and village below soon got replaced by music of the wind blowing through the pine tree needles. Absolute serenity and peacefulness as we made our way up through the steep forest slope. We passed the hamletd of Tunkhand and Bamoli where we met the road which hair pinned up from the valley below.
At Chhintarbagi a kind gentleman gave us water, tea and biscuits and offered lunch and oranges, the latter two we kindly denied having had a heavy breakfast earlier on. We took a relaxing break on the terrace in the warm mid day sun as the bees where buzzing in and out of the gives near the home. From here a clear path took us up along a small ridge to the pass above.
We crossed three small mandirs on the way before touching a small hamlet just below the pass at 2100m altitude. On the other side we entered lush green forest which slowly transitioned into farm lands and various small settlements as we made our way to the road side village of Dakhwangaon. We continued along the dirt road for a while contouring above the river into a more deserted section of the valley.
At an unknown hamlet we dropped down into the valley and crossed the stream to the dwelling of Saur on the opposite side. Here a narrow trail took us across a small saddle into the pristine Bhilangna river valley. We walked through serene pine forest as the sun was slowly setting. After the hamlet of Jamolna we crossed the river through an ancient bridge before climbing up to our target for the day – the road side village of Pokhar.
We were hoping to find a small dhaba to get dinner at the end of a long day on just one meal. We covered 25km over 1800m of elevation gain. We found a small tea shop where people were gathering for a marriage celebration. A kind local man invited us to stay over at his home and join him to attend the marriage in the evening.
We dropped our back packs in a nice guest room in his house on top and went back down to join the entire village population which had come out to celebrate. A sumptuous buffet was put up serving local delicacies and Pahadi songs were playing as we socialized with the curious crowd. We gathered around a warm fire as the night cold set in.