We slept peacefully on the terrace farms above Samkot Malla. The night was cold and there was quite a bit of condensation on Leo’s tent. We woke up before the daily 7am alarm, packed up our gears and went down to the road side dhaba for tea and snacks before starting off our trek of the day. Samkoth is just 300m below the pass across the ridgeline above into the Jakula Nadi river valley.
There is road which hair pins up across the pass and has destroyed the heritage path in several places making it a bit challenging to stay on track sometimes. We climbed up to the pass and then lost the rock path for a while following the road which contours North above the steep valley. We descended into a smaller trail through forest until we hit the rock path again leading us to the picturesque hamlet of Gini, settled on the slope above the river below.
One family invited us for breakfast on chairs and a small table in the sun in the farmlands. Small dogs were playing in the fields. Beautiful views on the surrounding valleys. Rottis, salty green chutney and butter milk. We continued our way into the Jakula Nadi valley crossing the crystal clear river where two elder gentlemen were cutting a huge tree log in half with a big hand saw. We followed a cobbled rock path downstream the valley for a while.
At one point we took a split right climbing up the valley slope and entering into a side valley full of terrace farms and spread out traditional homes. A small path took us through the farmlands until in one home a man invited us over for tea and lunch. A beautiful setting – two story home (animals in basement, people on top), big flat stones on terrace, veggie garden, orange and banana trees, several cows. A self sustained settlement.
The man was on leave from army and posted in Srinagar. The lady offered us several oranges freshly plucked from tree. Meanwhile she prepared heavenly aloo sabji and plucked fresh palak from the garden which tasted delicious along with chaval. For desert they gave us home made ladoos stuffed full of goodness. Tummies full we continued our way up through the side valley to the roadside village of Arkhet. Friendly faces everywhere curiousity looking a two foreigners passing through.
We climbed up further to the last uninhabited hamlet of Kheta just below the pass to cross over into the neighborhouring Ramganga valley. A nice rock path steeply descends into a forest from the unknown pass at 2300m. Below the forest the lower valley is dotted with terrace farms. The path leads us to the village of Hokra Devi where we halt in a small dhaba for chai and cream rolls. A gathering of local elders is eager to know where we come from and are heading to.
The paths descends further in endless lush green step farms contouring North into the Ramganga valley. To our surprise a large suspension bridge gets us across the river at 1300m. A herd of sheep is camping along the riverside. The path climbs up steeply on the opposite side as darkness falls. We pass through a small isolated hamlet of a handful of homes at the base of a near vertical rock face where we head North contouring up until we hit the road above after a quick and steep 800m climb above the river.
As luck would have it, we find a small shop where the road crosses the ridge. We order two black pepper chai-s at the end of another wonderful long day covering 26km across 2 passes with 2000m elevation gain. Lost calories are regained with snacks, cream rolls, Maggie, eggs, peanuts, jaggery, aloo bhuji and more. At 2100m altitude the evening quickly gets cold. The shop owner allow us to pitch up our tent on the roof out of the wind.