Today’s plan was to cross over from the Pindari river valley into the Nandakini river valley. It would take a 1500m climb out of the valley to the Saunbhana pass at 1450m altitude. After dinner yesterday we already climbed up 400m from Narayanan Bagar along a rock path and pitched up in the farm lands high above the Pindari river.
It was a peaceful night except for an owl in a tree on top of our campsite. We woke up at day break, packed up in 15min and resumed our climb up the path. We hit a newly constructed road and walked along it towards Sungri village. The sun was yet to appear from the mountains above so it was pretty cold.
We hit Dungri hoping to find breakfast, unfortunately all shops were closed. We proceeded forward along the road which was triggering landslides in the fragile Himalayan terrain. After walking two hours we felt hungry with no dhaba in sight. We passed a camp of Nepali road workers and saw the cook preparing lunch.
We dropped in warming ourselves on the hot cooking fire while being served 2 big plates of chaval and dhal. Tummies full for the thousand meter climb ahead, we continued to the village of Bhangota at the trail head of our pass. Here we encountered a road side shop and grabbed a quick black chai before climbing up a new road being built to Kush a small hamlet on the way to the pass.
We entered s scenic valley with pristine pine forest. At the end of the road under construction we climbed up to a small path above contouring towards Kush. Just before the settlement we passed a spring where we washed to socks and dried them in the warm mid day sun on our backpacks. Feet were sweating a lot so daily change of socks was a must.
The people at Kush were fully engaged in ploughing the farmlands with oxes. From here a nice rock path climbs up towards the Lav Kush Mahadev temple above. We admired the ancient Siva linga in the mandir. Just beyond the temple we encountered a small inhabited home where we met a baba. Visibly happy to see us he invited us for tea and even suggested we stayed over for the night.
The place was very peaceful far away from the busy external world nested in the corner of a remote valley inside a serene forest. After he blessed us with holy ash, we thanked our host and climbed up a small path to the Saunbhana pass above. We lost the way in between scaling up a small, steep ridge to get back on track.
The trail seemed hardly used so I was a bit concerned whether we would find a trail on the other side covered by lush green forest on the North facing slope. We had a short apple and bakery biscuits break on top of the pass at 2450m. Luckily we found a narrow, used trail going down into the forest. Exposed soil pointed to recent usage.
The trail initially dropped down along a small ridge before contouring left along the valley slope gradually descending to the first village of Kundi. The forest was nice chill in the afternoon shaded from the sun. I passed through Kundi last week while climbing the nearby Kim Khal pass. Villagers recognized me and invited us for a cup of chai.
We enjoyed the valley view from the rooftop sipping our chai and parle-G in company of a small group of curious villagers. People were warm and friendly. Humanity prevails in the mountains. After a relaxing break we bid goodbye and continued our journey along the road to the village of Sera in the Nandakini river valley.
Here we got lucky to get a share taxi ride to Nandaprayag, 15km downstream at the intersection of the Nandakini and Alaknanda river valleys from where we would cross over into the Birahi river valley. We indulged in three full plates of fried, oily mommo’s with some sugary coca cola to replenish the burned calories.