Trans Himalaya 2019 – Bhatwari to Hanuman Chatti, May 31-Jun 2

After a solid night rest in a grassy terrace farm below Malla I rose at 5:30am and started walking along the road to Bhatwari 1600m. I bought some fruits and biscuits for the next 2 days and started climbing a path towards Riathal 2200m through golden farm lands. The hike from Bhatwari to Dayara bugyal is a popular one and we saw an office of India Hikes.After a solid 1 hour 600m climb to Riathal I ordered Maggie with eggs for breakfast. I got to know that permission is required to proceed to Dayara from the forest office in Bhatwari. Luckily the forest officer was kind enough to let me write a disclaimer and allowed me entry.From Riathal a wide cobbled path climbs up through the forest. At Gui 2970m there is a small hamlet where a kind gentleman gave us some water. Climbing up further we reached the open bugyals and the small hamlet of Dayara 3350m. Food is available at one of the homes. We decided to push ahead.Just before the pass 3600m we came across a few ladies staying in a tarp shelter with views on the snow clad peaks of Gangotri. We requested them to prepare Maggie for us. They offered us yummy bufallo milk and full of energy we resumed our journey. After crossing the pass the path proceeds more or less horizontally along the ridge in Northeast directionBeautiful yellow flowers and pink rododendroms border the path. Below the ridge we pass another remote hamlet in the virgin valley below. A bit further several trails intersect. One climbs up along the same ridge. Another one remains horizontal and takes a turn Southwest towards a shelter where a kind family offers us tea.Meanwhile the time is already touching 5pm and after showing us the direction of a trail to the hamlet of Manjhi 2950m at the opposite side of the valley we proceed our journey. The trail descends along a Southwestern ridge and turns Northwest after a while.Here we finally lose the trail and proceed free solo down the valley slope sliding down across some steeper portions. Twice we get stuck at a steep drop and have to cross over to a neighbouring less steep sections. After a 2 hour 900m descend we finally reach the river at 2600m.After an initial check the water current appears too strong to cross. We go upstream to search for a more suitable section (wide, flat) to cross and as luck would have it find a big tree fallen across the stream. We make it to the opposite side where a black bear runs away after seeing us.The time is already past 7pm and dusk is setting in. We find a trail on the other side of the stream and start climbing up the slope to Manjhi 2950m. The trail again soon fades out and we decide to follow a narrow ridge leading up to the small hamlet. Darkness sets in and we switch on our torches.At 8pm we enter Manjhi which at first appears dark and deserted. After seeing light from within one of the wooden shelters we find an elder couple who calls the owner of the shop cum dhaba. The kind gentleman invites us inside and starts preparing dinner.The longest day so far 5:30am to 9:30pm we finally enjoy tasty chaval and dhal after yet another adventurous day. Exhausted we sleep off inside the dhaba targetting doti Taal in the morning for breakfast at the local forest rest house.5:30am the dhaba owner woke us up with hot chai. The night inside the shelter was warm and comfy even at 2950m altitude. We left by 6am and followed a very wide slightly ascending path towards Dodi Taal, a good 1.5 hour walk through scenic forest lit up by the early morning sun.Dodi Taal appears quite touristic with several rest houses, a dhaba and a beautiful wooden temple next to the large lake. The reflection of the forest in the water at sunrise was beautiful. There is a forest guard who checks for permission obtained. We had breakfast and resumed the 700m ascent to the Darwa pass 3800m above the lake.There is a clear path starting behind the lake which gradually ascends towards the pass. The Darwa pass is a narrow saddle along a high ridge. From the top you get clear views on the snow peaks of Yamunotri range. On the other side the trail initially proceeds West across a couple of snow sections.A clear trail descends Northwest through beautiful meadows before it disappears just like in OSM. From here we continued descending along the ridge till we hit the river at 3220m. For about a kilometre we could walk alongside the stream before we got stuck where the valley gets more narrow.We climbed up along the valley slope and traversed downstream around 100-200m above the stream. We had to climb up and down slightly at various places where the slope got too steep. Around 2.5km downstream further progress was blocked by a steep ridge.We tried climbing back down to the river to circumvent but in vain. The stream ran ferocious through the narrow gorge like valley impossible to walk alongside. Circumventing the ridge from the top would have meant climbing to about 3800m, too much of an effort.Disappointed having reached less then 2km from a few houses on the sat map we took a U turn. We had to revert our steps completely scrambling back along the steep valley slope above the river. We had to climb around periodic landslides in the slope.By the evening we finally reached back to the spot where the valley was wide enough to walk back alongside the stream. Rain clouds were forming so we quickly set up a small fire in a corner next to the river and cooked our three last packets of Maggie after an exhaustive day, 12 hours after our breakfast.After dinner we collected a few logs and made a warm cosy campfire and settled down next to it blogging the proceedings of the day. Luckily the clouds cleared again and we could sleep under the open skies. Around 10pm it rained for a short while so we huddled under our tarp / bivy.At 5:30am the alarm rang but it felt really too cold to get out of my warm and cosy sleeping bag. At 6am the sunrise welcomed us in the valley, packed up and hiked upstream to the same spot where we descended the previous day.We climbed up the same OSM trail that got us down and reached the Darwa pass within 1.5 hour. From there it was a quick descend back down to Doti Taal where I gobbled up yummy rottis with spinach veggie. Met a nice Colombian who was doing a 6 month Yatra in North.

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