Travel story contributor: Abhinav Singh
One fine day while getting bored in our office cubicles me and my friends made an impromptu plan to do the much famous Roopkund trek. Little did we know that successful completion of the trek will lead to a lifelong affair with Himalaya and mountaineering. As we traversed from a nondescript Kathgodam to Lohajung base camp in Uttarakhand, we already had little taste of mountain life. On the first day of the trek, I hiked up verdant mountains on neatly cut mud pathways snaking up the mountains, passing through the fragrant oak and rhododendron forests. There came a time when we were literally jostling for space with a huge herd of sheep, few pet dogs and their masters. We stayed in a charming little house constructed in local architectural style. This was the last time, we saw civilization.
The route to Bedni Bugyal was a total contrast. After trekking in dense forests on day one, we were surprised to see undulating fields of lush green meadows wherever we see. The hike was steep but it was well worth the effort. On reaching the top, we could clearly see an abrupt change in landscape. The horse grazing nonchalantly on the green paradise completed the picture!
The Bedni Bugyal campsite was at a very charming location, next to a large pond called Bedni kund. The sunsets as seen from here were spectacular. The open space, pleasant breeze and mountains in the distance evoked a sense of freedom in me.
As we walked to the next campsite called Patar Nachauni aka Ghora Lotani (Named so, because it’s the last green patch you will see and horses return from this point),we battled really strong breeze and glimpsed the snowline for the first time. We were greeted with larger number of horses and colorful seasonal flowers carpeting the hills. The views from here were one of the best ones. We spent the evening sipping our hot chocolates and staring unabashedly at mountains partially covered in snow.
The big day on the trek was the most difficult and most rewarding. We woke up at 3 a.m. to battle high altitude, walking on snow, water invading the shoes, dehydration and what not. As we reached Kalu Vinayak (a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha), I felt a sense of achievement and inspiration to complete the trek successfully. The entire route was through snow and it took some time adjusting in walking (with micro spikes on our shoes) on snow which was melting fast under the sun. We passed bharals (Blue sheep) perched on high mountains, other trekkers (some of whom, to our horror told us how they could not complete the trek) and breathtaking views on our way up!
After long grueling trekking and a quick lunch on the snow, we finally climbed the final mountain which served as a platform to soak in the views. We gasped at the ethereal beauty of famed Roopkund lake, known for real human skeletons in its precincts. What we saw is beyond any words! Majestic partially snow flecked black mountains standing guard to sky blue round lake, playing hide and seek with flirtatious clouds.
Since it was afternoon, we started to descend after romantically gazing at the glacial lake and mountains for a good 20 minutes. The visual delights are not over yet. On the last day of the trek, we were spellbound while walking in a forest covered in red rhodendorons. It was an extraordinary view, something straight out of a Bollywood romantic film. We settled in cozy tents in a jungle, made more charming by dense foliage, a sense of isolation, floor carpeted with dry leaves and lot of undergrowth.
We were excited to see noodles, our comfort food after long punishing hours of trekking. In the early evening while I was half asleep in the tent, I heard faint sounds of people gathered around a bonfire, their laughing and chatting punctuated by bell sounds of a horse. Though I wanted to join them, my protesting body won over my mind, I turned in my bed, closed my eyes, smiled to no one and started dreaming of Roopkund lake all over again!