The night was cosy and relatively warm sleeping on hay in my little shelter at Panwali Kantha at 3250m altitude. I heard some little animal frisking around my food ration so I packed it up in my dry bag. At 6am I got woken up by a sudden loud thunder! I looked through the cracks of the door and saw the landscape outside covered in fresh snow!!!
Sleeping peacefully inside the shelter I was unaware that it had probably been snowing for hours and slowly cutting me off from the outside world. I realized I would be in trouble soon – I was 2000m / 5 hours up from the nearest village. I packed up quickly and left asap hoping to get back to Ghuttu before too much snow would get me stuck.
It was still dark so I had to navigate using the GPS recorded track on my phone. The path which was clear yesterday was completely covered in snow easy to miss in the uniform landscape. Darkness and snow were the perfect combination to get completely lost in this no man’s land. My hands were freezing cold holding the phone to find my way.
It was snowing steadily so with every hour passing it would become less likely to get out safely. I kept up the pace, luckily the Kyonkhola Khal path was wide and visible even covered below snow. After one hour it became light, yesterday s blue sky was gray and completely closed. The forest was covered with a white blanket.
As I descended below 2000m snow turned into rain. Snow covered my path, rain got me wet and cold, the lesser of two evils. I looked behind and could see a new snowline across the mountains at 2500m altitude. With more snow expected in the coming days I would have to replan my upcoming route below 3000 meter. After 5 hours descending I finally reached back to Ghuttu where I dropped into a small dhaba to warm myself.
I ordered alloo paratha, dried my wet clothes and charged my electronics. I dropped into a local mobile shop to get an Airtel prepaid SIM so I could check the weather forecast before venturing out. Seeing I was a foreigner, the owner said “not possible sir, need ID proof”. I showed my Adhaar card and I was back online in 30 min. I uploaded my blog posts, photos, videos, GPS logs of the last 4 days I was offline to ensure all data was safely backed up.
Looking at the map I rerouted a new traverse towards Kedarnath through 3 lower altitude passes below 2800 meters with limited snow cover – Chorka Khal, Kathgar Khal, Mankha Khal. I packed up some parcel food for the day ahead and was on my way in afternoon. The forest was all wet from morning rains. The trail was initially not very promising but then later became a used path.
By early evening I reached an unknown summer dwelling, suitable place for the night before heading out to the first pass in the morning. All houses were locked except one small cattle shed full of hay. Perfect place for the cold night! I settled down and caught up with some pending blogging work.