Solo ride and trek to Pindari - Diwali 2016

Discussion in 'Travelogues from North India' started by nikhil2877, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. nikhil2877

    nikhil2877 Active Member

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    Friends, though Holi is right around, I am still relishing my memories of Pindari trek that I started right after Diwali day in 2016. Thought I should share some pics from one of my best ever outing end to end.

    Rode solo from Faridabad to Loharket and trekked alone all through (86km)

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    Pindari Baba's hut
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    Tried a panoramic
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    It was amazing experience standing at the zero point amidst these proud white capped mounts that made you look microscopic in comparison
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    The ever so receding glacier line. Its hard to take that you can't trek up to its feet after a 40km odd walk through the valley.
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    Yours truly !!
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    Need I say ! Iconic peak
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    Walking amidst jungle and numerous walk-over-stream bridges
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    A beautiful village called Kathi
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    Nature blossomed around
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    Marks of nature's fury
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    Winters setting in on higher grounds
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    Experimented with some recent learnings - can stove. Fed me couple of lunches when I needed it. Have decided to make it part of my luggage for every solo excursions like this.

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    Camping at Kathi (Green Arpenaz T2)
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  2. nikhil2877

    nikhil2877 Active Member

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    I had a wish to do a solo trek to see if I could survive solitude, loneliness, long quiet hours and little to no interaction during multi-day treks and the best candidate was Pindari. It was fitting perfectly in the calendar to start right after Diwali night. Everytime I get my bull serviced, I get anxious about making a trip to make the beast worthy of its existence. So it was, Oct 31, 2016, Quechua Forclaz 60l packed up with essentials, T2 tent and foam mattress, all tied to the bull, started off towards Almora.

    Day 1 - Faridabad to Almora

    Being the day right after Diwali night, as expected, no traffic all the way and I reached Almora in 12 hours with 2 tea , 1 breakfast and 1 lunch stop.

    Superb roads - Hapur bypass
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    Noticed these overturned bogies along the tracks near Garhmukteshwar, not sure of when this accident occurred.
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    ROB on the holy Ganges
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    Took my first break for tea after Gajraula, since it was the immediate day after Diwali, a lot of shops were late to come alive. Wondered why a tea stall would have someone drinking cola as its hoarding !!
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    The eucalyptus tree right along the tea stall had several black things tied along the branches. A closer look revealed hundreds of snoozing bats hanging. DSC06041.JPG


    Rampur-Suar - Bazpur two way. The most risky on the plains, saw many about-to-happen accidental scenes. Luckily I survived the madness created by all possible moving objects.
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    Approaching Kaladhungi forest.
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    And soon, on towards Nainital foothills
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    Crossed Nainital without fuss, as tourists and traffic were few. Stopped at Bhowali for lunch
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    Made a tea stop at Khairna and then drove non-stop all the way till Almora. It was getting dark and I was scouting for an overnight stay. Got one on the mall road in Almora (Hotel Him Plaza).
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    It was nice to see Diwali lightening up in the hills. Had a relaxing stay at Almora.
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  3. NeerajVayu

    NeerajVayu Well-Known Member

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    Superhit start
     
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  4. nadz11.ns

    nadz11.ns Super User

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    Beautiful start @nikhil2877 =D>
    Would be interesting to know about your solo trek experience.
     
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  5. nikhil2877

    nikhil2877 Active Member

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    Thanks Neeraj!!

    Thanks Nadz11.ns... I will try to detail the experience.
     
  6. nikhil2877

    nikhil2877 Active Member

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    Day 2 - Nov 1, 2016

    Almora to Loharkhet

    It was a lazy start as I knew I hadn't much to cover for the starting point. In hindsight, I think I should have started early to reach Loharkhet or Kharkia in time to begin my trek and save a day. But then the idea of keeping it slow and simple crept and I thought of just targeting Loharkhet for the day.

    I was aware of the fact that there's motorable road till Kharkia, avoiding the trek from Loharkhet to Dhakuri, saving almost 14-15 kms of trek through the Dhakuri pass. Down under, I had the feeling to do it the original way and not take a short cut. Though I asked for the route to Kharkia when I reached Kapkot and I was well explained, I somehow missed the turn towards Kharkia and reached Loharkhet. Having completed the trek, I feel good about missing the turn, coz the trek from Loharkhet to Dhakuri was challenging and something I shouldn't have missed.

    On reaching Loharkhet village, I asked a villager about the guest house and he directed me to a route that the trekkers take. I asked him if I could drive all the way up and he said that it could easily be done. I rode a pathetic 2km drive all the way up which in hindsight I regret, because it was full of boulders and prone and not at all for driving. Somehow managed to reach the guest house. I looked for the caretaker and there were none, since it was Diwali holidays. I went around further and found a FRH nearby which also had no caretaker for the same reason. Luckily, I found an Ecological tourism rest house, where I found a dormitory (all for myself) to stay overnight.

    Started late from Almora, around 1030AM. Crossed the Kasar devi temple area and had breakfast having first view of snow capped peaks.
    Not sure why, I get a nice satisfying feeling to see snow peaks. It was no different this time too !!
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    Roads were good from Alomra to Kapkot. No potholes whatsoever. Enjoyed the ride that day.
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    I am not able to turn the image when I load it. This was an interesting writing I spotted where I had breakfast. Though the image is straight up in my laptop, its coming horizontal when I am loading.
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    The scenic Binsar drive. memories of my Kumaon trip lingered all this way.
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    Reached Bageshwar around 2 pm and bought some medical supplies. I knew it would be hard to find anything essential after this. It took me an hour to go through the town/city, was almost 3 when I left Bageshwar.
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    I expected bad roads post Bageshwar, but to my surprise it was smooth, all the way till Kapkot.
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    Took the turn for Pindari and reached Kapkot where I had lunch around 330pm.
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    I stopped couple of times to enquire the diversion to Kharkia, but missed it eventually. Road surface was intermittent after crossing Kapkot.
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    Treacherous road to drive, last 2km to the guest house. On return, the Loharkhet FRH caretaker told me to drive a new route that is 5km long but is safe to bypass this boulder ridden undrivable route.
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    KMVN guest house, no caretaker. Looked like a good place to stay. The FRH was even better looking but had no one to ask for. Ended up in the eco tourism place.
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    The eco tourism RH was good and the caretaker Gopalji was humble and provided me with tea and dinner. From now on, I was in a place with no phone signals, no electricity. Suddenly, I was out of the traceable geography. Had a early dinner and slept over very well.
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    The eco RH. The trek route starts right from its gate.
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  7. nikhil2877

    nikhil2877 Active Member

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    Day 3, Nov 2, 2016

    Refreshed from night sleep at the eco hut dorm, I got up well in time and Gopal the caretaker brought me tea and breakfast. I got ready quickly and unpacked stuff that I shouldn't be carrying for the trek. It was time to leave my bull for few days. The Eco hut had a walled compound so it was safe for me to leave the bike under Gopal's observation.

    The stay at eco hut was very economical with stay, dinner and breakfast (which was no different than the dinner ;)), costing me 500. Stepping out, a local guide, who had offered his services for my trek last evening, came up again and asked me if I had changed my mind. He told me of the dangers that the forest have and that it would be prudent to take him along. I insisted that its going to be a solo trek all the way and if at all I would sense dangers in the first few kms, I would return to pick him up. He gave a reluctant smile and wishes. I looked up towards the trek route and started off at around 820AM, with the idea of reaching Kathi by evening.

    Map figured on a board outside the Eco hut. Simple math told me that its a 40km deal one way.
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    Much of the initial trek route was rock laded, easy for trekkers even in rains, but I was finding it hard to avoid protruding edges which could easily unbalance you. As told by Gopal and the guide, its a continuous upward trek all the way till Dhakuri pass. I remembered the various lurking dangers that the guide suggested and I did feel like being chased or followed at times. Gradually, it sinked in and I was very soon on my own feeling comfortable amidst the woods on the mountains.
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    Trek route sometimes rocky DSC06129.JPG

    sometimes muddy but plain. I picked up good speed on these, perhaps the rocks weren't that easy to tread.
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    and sometimes washed out
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    soon I was in deep jungle and there was no soul at all around. not even monkeys.
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    finally I emerged out of the dense forest to reach a temple where I took my first break.
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    These must have been shops that did business until the road reached Kharkia which is 2-3km down after Dhakuri pass. I guess these guys got out of business with not many travelling this route from Loharkhet.
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    Spotted some company finally.
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    Green meadows, there were some dwellings, but hardly any one to see. I met a local walking up with his son, almost double my speed. He was amused to know that I am all by myself. They two were the only human contacts I had on that 10km trek.
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    Half way point DSC06154.JPG

    The treeline was not dense now. I stopped for sometime at this point which must have been in business recently. There were two such shops, abandoned. DSC06161.JPG

    Another meadow that looked very attractive to camp, but there was not much of water around. I could see that I am on towards the last leg of the upward trek. By now, I was tired, sweating but was happy to have made this far in good time. 20 min break and I was back on track.
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    An soon when I was repeatedly losing breath and stamina, I spotted a temple flag at the end of an almost 40 degree upward path, I gave it all to reach and was there at the pass finally :)
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    Spent some 10 mins on the pass. It was very windy and chilly. I knew I couldn't stay there for long and started descending. Suddenly, the steep descend felt more painful than the ascend I did so far. Signs of snowfall/hailstorm were around, and they were fresh. Something I didn't want myself to be in when on foot.

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    It was a glamorous view, beautiful mountain slopes overlapping, forming a valley within and the ever engulfing, eloping white and black clouds over the peaks. DSC06177.JPG


    First view of the RH at Dhakuri and I was thrilled with the view it had to offer. It was a place to stay for sure and I made my mind to do that even before I reached at the spot.
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    Now when I was looking for some souls to talk, I found none. Locked and abandoned shops, FRH all around. For a moment I felt sad for not been able to stay here when suddenly I decided to walk around and see if I could camp somewhere provided there's water source around. I thought the TRH could have a tap or pipe in its yard and I could survive a night here. Looking for it, I spotted a human laying carelessly over the ground basking in sunlight. I was happy to see him and asked him for the RH. In no time I got a room and it was a steal for this beautiful place.
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    He showed me a double bed cottage and I took it. the price - 200 :).. Walah !! At this moment, I was proud of myself to have done this from Loharkhet for this was something to be experienced.

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    The caretaker (Bhajan) brought me some leftover rice and dal, since I happened to be only one after Diwali, and with no one expected the next day. He promised me a good fresh dinner.

    Scenes were changing in no time.

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    The room, finally retired after an oka'ish lunch and slept for some time. It was really cold in there and I could sense the freezing that was to come after dusk.
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    Slept for an hour or so and then I took my camera out for some clicks and a walk around. Most of the hugging clouds had left the peaks, leaving them to be ogled by lovers like me.
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    Finally, it grew dark and I was just wandering around the bushes and soaking the silence, solitude and whatever nature had around me.
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    Bhajan, the caretaker called me soon as it went dark (by 7) and asked me to take dinner. I sat in his smoke filled kitchen with no lights, except for the glow created by the chulah fire. Wondered how he managed to cook food and chapatis.

    Had egg curry, roti and some rice. It was much better than what I had last night at the Eco hut.

    Interestingly, Bhajan, the second person I met that day, couldn't talk much because of heavy stammering that he had. For even a word, he would take some effort and I wanted to keep it easy for him, and asked no questions or enquiries.

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    The new moon showed up with venus alongside. The night sky was clear and I tried a lot to capture long exposures. Tried for 10 mins before giving up for the bitter cold that had set in. It was definitely below freezing that night.

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    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  8. BHOOTER RAJA

    BHOOTER RAJA Chalo .......let's go.

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    Wow...
    Excellent trek story.
    All the TRH are great . Loving it. Solo trekking has its own charm.
     
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  9. nikhil2877

    nikhil2877 Active Member

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    Thanks Bhooter Raja. Yes, Solo trekking indeed has its own charm. Depends on how much you can be with yourself and absorb whats around.
     
  10. nikhil2877

    nikhil2877 Active Member

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    Day 4, Nov 3, 2016

    After a freezing night at TRH Dhakuri, I wished for some warmth and I knew in a few hours I will be at a place which could be comfortable in terms of temperature. Though Bhajan (TRH Caretaker) told me to aim for Dwali, since its almost downhill from Dhakuri RH to Khati 7km, leaving it to how it goes, I started off after a quick breakfast and tea. Cost of stay at TRH Dhakuri was 500 :). There couldn't be anything to complain really.

    Indeed it was completely downhill till village Kharkia, the village that recently got connected to Song through a kuchcha motorable road. Views of Sunder Dunga valley and Pindari range were stunning from a vantage point at hotel Anpoona (have seen this place in many a blogs about Pindari).

    Wasn't much to tell about this short trek, because the moment I entered village Khati, I felt in love with it and decided to stay there. I reached there around 1pm and thought of relaxing at the FRH. A small beautiful, well located village that has a school, post office, dispensary. Kids chanting tables and verses in the school could be heard all through the village. Ample space to walk around and bask in the sun. I met Prakash, a local guide and expert of the area. He runs a eatery and offers trekking service for areas around. He took good care of me and talked about all the things around that could be seen. It was a place I think I could stay for a long time.


    Leaving the chill behind, the downhill trek emerged out of the woods in no time and the warmth was welcoming.
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    Fairly clear skies and views

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    Sunder Dunga. Locals told that they are preparing a motorable road to the base camp of Sunder Dunga.
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    Village Kharkia , this is 2 hour drive from Song (just before Loharkhet) and Khati is 5 km trek from here. So for those not intending to do Dhakuri pass, they can arrive here directly and stay at Khati.
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    Sunder dunga valley on left, Pindari/Kafni to the right.
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    Local mill
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    A beautiful guest house enroute, just before Khati. It was locked, else would have enquired for sure.

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    First glimpse of the village. Signs of "Swacha Bharat Abhiyan" were all around the village. They had planted bins and signs and it was good to see.

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    The village, finally.

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    FRH Khati. Good place to stay, luckily it was not booked that night and I could stay there for a mere 110 bucks. Prakash's place is right next to it and I could sense a comfortable time till tomorrow morning.

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    The room
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    Pathshala
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    Had a long chat with Prakash that evening as he had no other guests that day. I got all the attention :) Slept really well after a freezing Dhakuri night. Word about a tourist turning up in the village spread like fire and it helped. TRH Phurkiya caretaker was in the village that day and he came running to ask about my plan. He told me to do Khati to Phurkiya tomorrow and that he would come along, since he had no guests and didn't want to go alone there. I agreed, thinking that after a good rest at Khati, I should be able to a 17km trek.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017

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