Slept wonderfully below thick warm blankets in a cosy room of my host at Uchchai Hamlet. Woke up early and started hiking towards Mathkot where my next co trekker Leo would join me. The nice cobbled rock path descends into the valley and joins a new road above the river which connects to Mathkot.
I met Leo at the center road of the town located on the confluence of the Goriganga and neighbouring river valley. Leo had travelled 5 days from Chennai to reach me. Train to Delhi, train to Haldwani, countless rides to reach Munsyari and a short hike to Mathkot. We checked out several dhabas till we found someone willing to serve chappatis with sabji and curd for breakfast. I indulged in two teas and 4 cream rolls after several days.
We crossed the bridge and hiked up a rock path on the ridge into the valley towards the last hamlet of Rapti. A new road was hair pinning up the valley slope destroying the ancient path in many places. We were able to connect the pieces tough shortcutting countless hair pins and reducing distance significantly. At Rapti a friendly family invited us into their home offering a fruit salad made of oranges, sugar and chilli.
From Rapti the path climbs up gradually on the valley slope towards a 3400m pass, a 1200m climb above Mathkot. We were surprised to see a new road being built all the way across the pass connecting the hamlets in the neighbouring valley. The road in the next valley is built along a deep gorge and landslide prone so they were building a new access road. On the way to the pass there is a one house setitlement, home of one family.
We reached the pass soon and a rock path took us down into beautiful open meadows where the new connecting road was under construction. Soon after that we get into the picturesque hamlet of Tomik. We took a short break at a shop where soon a crowd was gathering wondering who we were. The shop owner treated us on black herbal tea. The sun was really intense in the afternoon. We resumed our way down into the valley to cross over to Bona on the opposite side.
Down the valley turned into a steep gorge and the new hair pin road had destroyed the old rock path in many places. We were still able to get down quickly and cross over a small bridge bypassing a long road section which took a big loop around the valley. 300m up on the other side we reached Bona where the kids of the village were playing cricket in a big open field. We walked to a shop where a few locals had gathered and enquired about dinner options. Maggie and biscuits was the only answer.
After socializing for a while a young chap who spoke English well invited us to his home and offered us tea with biscuits. He showed us a nice flat grassland near the temple to pitch up our tent. Later at night he brought us fluffy home made chapattis with dhal and promised to arranged packed food the next morning for the planned 2 day traverse across 3 passes to the Dharma valley neighbouring with Nepal. We were unsure whether we would be able to cross the 3800m high pass during mid winter due to snow.