Trans Hima 2020 – 24 Chorka Khal, Khatgar Khal

I spent the night in a small cattle shed in a deserted hamlet on the way to the Chorka Khal pass. Throughout the night some small animals were moving around on the roof and inside the room in search – I presume – for food. So I packed up all my food ration in my air tight dry bag. 

I woke up to a very cold morning. A freezing breeze blew through the valley, the Meadows all frosted. I climbed up to the ridge above to get some network to upload some blog posts I had updated the previous evening. My hands were freezing cold, it was time to move in order to get warm.

I began searching for the start of the trail towards the Chorka Khal pass in the forest around the hamlet. I found several trails but neither appeared to be either used much or going in the right direction. I finally found a broader, used path but that was climbing up a different way. Suddenly I met a few locals on the same path which told me to get “toda niche” (little bit down) and take a left.

I followed instructions and was finally proceeding as per the Survey map. The forest was really cold, no sunshine in this North facing slope. After a while the path was once again diverting from the map and I was ready to give up on Chorka Khal. I decided anyway to stay on track as it was a clear used path, no matter were it was heading. 

It took me up to a snow covered, isolated dwelling deep in the forest, high in the mountains. And yes! Finally the path was now bending back to the pass. I was excited again heading towards my planned destination. I finally got Chorka Khal at 2620m and was welcomed by a warm late morning sun. 

From here it was a quick descent into the opposite valley which was covered with numerous villages and farmlands unlike the uninhabited forest I came from. I hit the road in the valley and started walking some 8K towards Satpoli village at the base of my next pass. I passed several small hamlets looking for a dhaba but no luck …

Finally I got a ride on a bike who took me straight to Satpoli saving me precious time. As luck would have it, there was s nice dhaba at Satpoli. I charged my phone battery which was depleted and ordered tea and cream rolls as starter. Next on the menu was chowmin, really tasty prepared by the owner who was also guiding me to the next pass.

I packed up food and snacks for the next traverse and was on my way by 3pm. I was hoping to cross the Khatgar Khal today itself itself and reach the first dwelling of Kingadiya on the other side to settle for the night. A good 800m climb out of the valley through a fairly clear path up a ridgeline. I reached the pass before sunset with stunning views on the main Gangotri range.

With less then an hour of daylight remaining I was now moving fast downhill. A fairly clear trail was descending through a dense forest as darkness was sneaking upon me. With another 1km to go I became dark and I had to stay alert to not miss the path. I found a spring and quenched my thirst after a 3 hour speed hike. I was closing into the spot marked on the map in the dark.

The landscape finally opened up into step plantations. However no sign of any shelters around! Did we wrongly mark the hamlet of Kingadiya in Open Street Maps? Was it an abandoned settlement with no homes? I kept searching the area and found some recently ploughed fields reassuring me that there should be a shelter nearby. I jumped s fence and finally located one deserted home.

I opened the door and found a small, cosy room with bed, fire, utensils, farming gears deserted for the winter. I swiped the dust from the bed and settled down after an intense 30K exploration day. Got into my warm quilt, gobbled up my packed chowmin, oranges and biscuits and finished the evening with my daily offline blog which would get posted automatically in the next network region.

Trans Hima 2020 – 24 Chorka Khal, Khatgar Khal I spent the night in a small cattle shed in a deserted hamlet on the way…

Posted by Peter Van Geit on Thursday, 15 April 2021