Today’s plan was a cross over from the East Nayar river valley at Thailisain across a 3000m high snow covered ridgeline to Gairsain (summer capital of Uttarakhand) in the Ata Gad river valley. I woke up at the school grounds of Tarpalisain inside my Bluebolt solo tent which was fully frosted on in and outside due to freezing night cold.
I packed up and dropped into a small road side dhaba waiting to catch the 7:30am share taxi to Thailisain in the adjacent valley across a 2500m road connected pass. I had a black tea and a few cream rolls to kick start the system. The taxi left 20min late and would take some 2 hours to hair pin across the frozen snow covered pass.
The driver cleaned his windshield with hot water which instantly froze.
I dropped off at Kainur from where I would traverse through a side valley towards my target pass. Had delicious Maggie with eggs and lots of veggies in a small dhaba. Packed up two samosa’s and a few sweets fto the day ahead. It was 10am already and it would take 30km and 1500m elevation gain through snow covered trails to reach my destination.
I started walking along a road and got lucky to hitch a ride in a Tata Ace to the trail head further down the valley at Byasi village. The enthu driver was excited to meet me and gave me a few fruits he was transporting. I continued further upstream the valley along a new road being constructed which got me to the last hamlet of Maroda.
From here a beautiful path proceeds along the stream further up through scenic forest. I passed through one more small inhabited dwelling before entering no man’s land. It was noon already and the gray rainy skies had made way for clear blue sky and warm sun. The forest near the stream was cool and pleasant to walk through.
It would be a solid – but gradual – thousand meter ascent from the Nayar East River to the 3000m high ridgeline above. The path crossed the stream and started climbing up steeply along a ridgeline going East. At 2200m snow started gradually covering up the path, partly melted by the warm mid day sun rays.
I touched a first deserted dwelling partly covered in snow at 2400m. Climbing up further the depth of the snow increased and soon the entire forest was covered in a white blanket. Footsteps of a leopard were freshly imprinted in the snow. Even tough covered up, the path remained visible beneath the snow.
At 2900m I passed through another deserted dwelling. A handful of wooden shelters used in summer to graze cattle in high meadows above. I took a short lunch break indulging in samosa’s and sweets while taking in the beauty of the snow covered winter landscape. Total silence, total peacefulness with no one around.
Hitting the top ridgeline at 3000m the path now turned North and continued for a while along the ridge before crossing over. Snow was now 1 foot thick and I pass yet another beautiful snow covered hamlet near the top. A small mandir sat on top of a small hillock from where I got 180 degree views on the high ranges of Uttarakhand.
I could see Chaukhamba on the left and various other high peaks towards the right. I ploughed knee deep through the top snow till a wide path started dropping down on the other side. The path descended along a small ridge into the Ata Gad river valley. Sun exposed, the snow depth decreased soon as I dropped to lower altitudes.
The snow covered high ranges remained visible at the horizon to the North as the sun was slowly setting down. As the path dropped further down, snow disappeared and I was able to pick up the pace again. I hit the first settlement of Ramra where locals were surprised to see a lone foreign traveler coming out of these remote snow covered mountains.
A nice rock path now took me to the next village of Mahargaon from where it contoured along the valley slope to the road head near Chandival. I dropped into a small tailor shop to fix my thorn shorts and jacket. Another “outsider” from Andhra posted in the local post office was glad to see a neighbour from Tamilnadu.
I continued walking down the road in search for a dhaba. As the night fell I got into a small shop cum dhaba 2km from Gairsain, perfect place for night halt a bit away from the larger city. I had a super yummy chowmin with eggs before pitching up in a nearby farmland seeing the twinkling city lights of Gairsain in the dark valley below.