Today’s plan was to start return towards Dehradun over the next 3 days to complete my 3 months winter exploration of Uttarakhand. The night was cold at Bamangaon at 1800m altitude. It had rained the previous night. The dhaba owner had offered us a small room to spent the night which was warm and cosy compared to camping outside.
We woke up at day break and went down for a black chai with cream rolls to kick start the body. Sampath, my co trekker for the last two weeks was leaving home so I would finish my mission solo. We bid goodbye as he was taking a share jeep towards nearby Uttarakashi across the Sakurana Khal pass. I started walking along the road downstream into the valley towards the village of Pipli.
I usually hate walking on roads but this one was nearly deserted and contoured through beautiful, pristine pine forest. My hands were feeling cold in the morning eagerly waiting for the sun to rise up. It was s good 15k to Pipli where I was planning to have breakfast at the base of my next pass #105.
I was hoping to hitch a ride but unfortunately no vehicle passed in my direction. Towards the end I finally got lucky and got s ride on a bike for 3km dropping me at Pipli village. I dropped into a road side dhaba and indulged in aloo paratha with fresh dahi procured from another shop. The stomach was hungry after a solid 2 hour walk.
I crossed the stream and climbed up to a scenic hamlet on the opposite side. It was a good 800m climb from the river to the pass at 2050m altitude. A nice path took me along a ridge and then contoured into the valley below the pass to finally hair pin up to the top. Breakfast had energized me and I was climbing up in a fast pace.
From the top I got treated on views on the snow clad peaks of the Gangotri range. On the other side the path slowly descended through pristine pine forest into the picturesque hamlet of Ulun. A beautiful setting with colorful houses and lush green terrace farms tucked into the surrounding forest. A kind gentleman invited me for tea but I kindly passed to optimize the time as I wanted to reach Dehradun in 3 days.
A nice path drops down steeply from the hamlet into the valley below through forest. Further down the valley opens up again into step farms and the path takes me through various small hamlets – Channapur, Gamri, Damodarnagar, Halgaon, Dhargaon, Pipalkhanda, Tilpara and Chamyari from where the road hair pins down into the Bhagirathi river valley flowing from Gangotri.
I cross the river over a bridge and climb up to the Uttarakashi highway. I drop into one of the many road side dhabas for lunch: mommo’s and chowmin and a yummy milk sweet for desert. I pack up some samosa’s and chocolates for the way ahead. I hitch a ride down the highway to the airport town of Chinyalisaur at the base of my next traverse.
I climb up through the town and follow a steep hair pinning path which gets me high above the valley to the village of Kot. From here I get a bird’s eye view on the airstrip below in the Bhagirathi river valley. I climb into the ridgeline above and pass through the isolated dwelling of Tangethi. Temporarily losing the trail I make my way across the farmlands.
At Tangethi I get back into a proper path climbing up along the ridge to the village of Bagon. Curious villagers are eager to know where I m coming from and where to I m heading. They invite me for a tea break but with the time running late afternoon I decide to move on to reach my target for the day before darkness.
I get onto a road which takes me to a school on top of a small saddle from where I cross over the ridgeline into the next valley. A good 900m climb out of the Bhagirathi river valley I stop for a short tea and cream roll break at a small shop as the 5pm sun is slowly setting behind the mountains above.
A nice path gets me down into the Nagon Gad river valley as a shepherd and 8 ladies carrying leaves pass me on the way up. The path gradually contours down into the steeply cut valley. I pass a few small dwellings along the way until I reach a bridge where I cross over and climb up a hair pinning path to the road side hamlet of Chapra at the base of pass #107.
I reach the hamlet as darkness sets in. A friendly villager offers me a cup of chai as I pitch up my Bluebolt tent in the surrounding farm lands. I settle down inside the tent as a cold wind blows through the valley. Gobbling up one of my packed up samosa’s as I write down the blog #81 in this winter traverse. Back to solo mode I clocked 40K and 2000m elevation gain across 2 passes today
At 9pm the son of the house returns from charging his phone in the next village as there is no power in Chapra for last few days. He invites me into the kitchen where a warm fire is lit and his mom is preparing sabji and rottis. A delicious home cooked dinner after a intensive day of speed hiking After dinner we chat till late in evening after he tells me to break up my tent and prepares a comfy bed on the wooden floor of a guest room in the house.