The night was cold on the open ridge at the Shyok Bolya temple at 3150m altitude. My 6:30am alarm to watch the sunrise over the Gangotri range was quickly snoozed. No way I was getting out of my warm cosy quilt. I woke up at 7am when the sun rays entered my shelter, packed up my gears and was walking.
A nice cobbled path hair pinned down a steep drop below the temple along the ridge. A little further down I left the main ridge which would eventually join the Ai Khal pass I crossed last week. As per the Survey map I descended along a side ridge which would get me to Ghuttu. I followed a fuzzy trail that eventually fades out into the forest.
I continued my descent into the valley following the contour map until I hit a deserted isolated dwelling at the base. At the river I washed my shorts and tee (a weekly routine) and socks (daily). I drank water after nearly 24 hours since I left Gainwali the previous day.
Following the Survey map I initially followed a wrong trail which started climbing up again. I took a U turn and started bouldering downstream until I hit the right trail that quickly took me outside the forest to the first inhabited hamlets near the road side. I walked towards Ghuttu, stomach empty as the clock was turning 11am.
Ghuttu is the last main hub at the Bhilangna river valley, a buzzing village with many shops, taxis and dhabas. It s surround by numerous smaller hamlets and vast step farmlands in an open valley setting. I quickly got into a dbaha and started multi tasking to save time. Ordered fried mommo s, charged my electronics and started shopping snacks for the 4th and final pass crossing ahead on the Gangotri – Kedarnath traverse.
40min later I was up and running again, climbing up on a ridge above Ghuttu offering scenic views on the valley and hamlets below. A beautiful rock path built ages ago was leading the way to the holy site of Kedarnath. A solid 1500m climb out of the valley ensured my mommo s got digested. At 2800m the path got partly covered by snow on the Northwestern valley slope while completely clear on the Southeast facing slope.
At 3000m the main climb was over and the path started contouring gradually above the forest line offering mesmerizing views on the valley below. There were many footprints of animals in the snow covered path, none human. I was the first to traverse after recent snowfall two weeks ago. At 3400m the path gets back on top of the ridge with panoramic views on the now covered main Gangotri range.
The clock was hitting 5pm and even as the sun was shining bright it was getting cold. I decided to halt for the night at the deserted summer hamlet of Panwali Kantha, a handful of homes inhabited only during summer. Most homes were locked but I found one small cosy shelter full of hay which was open. I gathered some wood around and made a nice, warm fire inside while gobbling up some yummy chowin noodles packed up in Ghuttu.