Happy being a nomad.
Awesome TL. Liked the photo of the Milky way.
Day 2 - Dantu Village
At some point in the night I woke up startled with the loud mooing of a cow. Then I realized that sound was coming from just below me. In the village houses, the ground floor is where the cattle are kept and upper floor is used for residence. With the low ceiling and the standing cow, the cow’s head was only a feet or two below where I was lying down echoing sounds into my bum.
At 0445 my body’s natural alarm clock went off. I knew it would be a few minutes short of five and continues to sleep. A little later I got up, put on the jacket and stepped out.
I had left my tripod outside at night. Wasn’t surprised to find it still there in the morning. It was quite cold and I fumbled while mounting the camera on the tripod head.
Having setup the camera, I pulled the jacket hood over my cap and dug my hands deep in the jacket pockets. Then I waited the light to show up.
The much awaited sunlight did not turn up, but clouds did. With that vanished my hopes of capturing the beauty of sun rising over the Panchachuli.
Waiting for the sunrise
I waited around a little longer. Then realizing that the clouds are not going to do me any favor, going back to my room, I went to sleep.
Around 0745 I stepped out again. To my surprise a few flakes of snow drifted in. For a moment I thought of going back. Then realizing the mistake I had made in Chandrataal two years back, I ignored the thought of returning and planned to stick with my original plan of staying the day there.
The first order of the day was to check out the river crossing. I wanted to figure out the best route back as getting wet would mean an entire day of uncomfortable shoes and socks.
A goat hunkering down on grass to get warm in the cold
A bit of sunrise on the peaks
A locked up house in the village
Taking a circuitous route, I walked down to the place where my bike was parked. There was a thin layer of frost formed on the seat. Wiping it away, I waited a little for the seat to warm. Then I headed down to the river.
frost on the bike seat
Dark clouds towards the side of Panchachuli. These are the ones which showered snow over the village a little while back.
Down at the river crossing, the water was flowing faster than I anticipated. I walked up and down the bank to figure out the best way to cross. Several minutes of observation yielded no results. I decided to take the plunge.
Taking off my shoes and socks, I rolled up my pants and stepped in the cold water. It was colder than I was expecting, yet the moment wasn’t as shocking as the day before. The water level was quite low compared to the previous afternoon. Slowly feeling the way through soles of my feet, I walked up to the middle of the river.
There I stood, letting my feet freeze amidst my admiration of the beauty of the valley. I was probably looking like one of those people who fish standing in the middle of water. The sun playing hide and seek with the clouds, was fortunately out while I stood there.
I now had a fairly good idea of how to cross the river. Slowly I walked back to where my shoes and socks. For a while I sat on a rock drying and warming up. Then I headed back.
The half constructed bridge
Near the river
Panchachuli shrouded with clouds
Back at the village, I wandered around. Many houses were locked and there was hardly anyone around. I guess most had started their daily routine and were busy with that.
One of the few open houses in the village
An old woman walking to her herd of cows
An abandoned houses in the village
A glimpse of the Panchachuli above the my home stay
Nandi, pet dog of my host, enjoying the sun
Back at my home stay, I had a breakfast of maduwa choli roti, chach and ghee (ragi dosa and buttermilk). Then I hung around enjoying the warm sun and talking to my hostess and her daughter.
I was planning to walk up to the Panchachuli base camp. However, my host’s daughter persuaded me to skip that and take an alternate route. According to her the trail on Dantu side of Nyuli Yangti River offered better views of the Panchachuli and took one closer to the glacier, compared to the official and more popular trail which starts from Dugtu. Due to local politics, the official trail started from Dugtu and the base camp was built on that side.
Not one to follow the herd, I took her advice.
Shepherding – my host and her daughter
Walking with the sheep
I started off following the sheep that were being herded for their day’s outing. Soon I overtook then and followed a narrow trail which followed the course of Nyuli Yangti river high on the slopes. It was mostly flat with a slight rise in elevation.
Village of Dugtu
Nyuli Yangti flowing down from Panchachuli
Selfie on the trail
Dugtu village, Bon village (far off) and Brammah Parvat
After walking a while, I realized that the clouds were getting darker and the Panchachuli were getting less and less visible. Coming to a fork I turned right. The trail would take me higher but not closer to the peaks. At this point I wasn’t sure I wanted to get very close to the peaks. Just wanted to have a super relaxed day.
Taking a break
Searching for a place to lie down, I found a nice flat area and settled down for a nap. The warm sun and a gentle breeze acted like an instant sleeping pill. I am pretty sure I was snoring with in minutes. The clouds drifted in and out of the sky as well as in my dreams.
I don’t know how long I snoozed. A large dark cloud covering the sun lowered the temperature and woke me up. Lying there I relished the shadows cross me and warmth of the day slowly returning.
Feeling hungry, I decided to head back. Dark clouds were lingering over the hills and I wasn’t planning to get caught in a drizzle or snow drift.
Panchachuli – a closer look
Dark clouds over the valley
Nandi guarding her flock
Back at the home stay, Nandi was busy guarding her flock. I played around with her and the lambs. A little later I went in for lunch of rice and local rajma.
By now the sun was completely gone and it was getting cold. Going up to my room, I reviewed the pictures from last couple of days. Wasting battery was a concern as there was no electricity or charging point in the place. I did have a power bank and a USB charger which was very helpful.
Nandi, having gotten friendly by now, posing
When I stepped out, the last light of the day was fading. I sat on the verandah and listened to local gossip over a cup of tea.
The sky was completely clear by now. I decided to head down to the foot bridge to take some pictures of flowing water with Panchachuli in the back drop.
Walking down I realized how pitch dark it was. In spite of the bright stars, nothing was visible without the torch I carried. Down at the gorge where the small bridge crossed the river it was even darker.
All attempts to capture the river were futile. The bridge was also swaying with in the wind making it impossible to place the tripod stationary. The surprise find was the milky way over the Panchachuli. Without the moon it was bright and beautiful in the sky.
After almost an hour trying to get something good, I gave up and started back.
Milky way from the foot bridge in depth of the valley
Reaching back at the home stay, dinner was still under preparation. So I went behind the house to take some more pictures. Moon was coming fast and milky way was going away.
As the first rays of the moonlight hit the snowy peaks, the view transformed. The orange glow that lit up peaks was nothing short of magical. I stood there mesmerized watching one peak after other glow a fiery orange in the light of the moon.
Moonrise and the milky way
All the four peaks glowing in the moonlight
Returning back to the kitchen I had a satisfying meal of roti, rice, cabbage and dal. It was wonderful sitting there in the warmth of the fire culminating a wonderful day – just the way I would have liked it to be.
The ride back
The long awaited water fall