The Journey so far-
Within five minutes we reached the Tungnath Temple and we all were overwhelmed by our endeavor so far. It was an amazing feeling indeed as no one expected that we will make it to the top in such extreme snow. We were overjoyed and were all over the place. The entire complex was buried under snow and there was as much as 4-6 feet of snow at places, I guess. The guest houses were also under snow to a great height and so was the temple too. Thankfully there was a small shed just aside of temple which was devoid of that much snow and we rested for a while on the windows of the shed. Windows were the only place where there was no snow 😀 … We clicked many pictures but I didn’t have the stamina left to compose or frame any shots. Hence, forgive me if the results are too poor without any composition or framing to your liking… Umeid had also warned us to watch the footing as there could be snow to our chest height even and the burning sun had made it all soft too. This along with loads of cloths restrained me to kneel down or reflex the body to compose any shots 😀 … The loss of energy has also sucked the creativity too :lol and I shot whatever best I can… There was no effort to create a picture rather I just managed to click them for archives.
It was now time to leave downhill now and Chandrashilla still eludes us :cry:… Just as we were having a heavy heart for not making to the top of Chandrashilla, we saw the girl among the foreigner couple coming down. She told us that there was too much snow and it was too scary for her to manage. She told that it is too risky to attempt but her friend and guide are still trying to attempt it. She was glad that she came back and so were we after listening such words because after all we wanted this trip to be UNEVENTFUL 😀 … After a little chit-chat with the girl, we bid her adieus and started the climb down towards Chopta.
We started the descend slowly and slowly as now the chances of sliding down had increased. The snow had gone soft due to bright shining sun, so as soon as our feet put pressure on the foot holes we get slid deep into the snow. The volume of snow was great and we started to realize it now. Every now and then, one of us was down into the snow till waist high. In some cases we have to almost dig ourselves up from the front when we were dropped deep into the snow. The bamboo stick which we carried along was doing wonders to prevent the injury as it was the only support present to hold us from falling. The shoes were doing the good job too in protecting the ankle and yes it got worse and worse as we went down. At places I even lost the footing from the track which pushed me further deep into the snow but thankfully I always bended my body due to which stomach did not let me go too far down. The recovery from such fall was to pull your feet out slowly and crawl ahead on your stomach 😆 … Sometimes when we tried to pull ourselves up from the snow, the point where we put pressure using the stick breaks apart as well crashing the face in the snow 😀 … It was indeed a tough feeling and now I was also feeling good about the fact that we did not attempt Chandrashilla :D…
The descend did not required much effort from the body itself although the continuous falls into the snow were really pushing the body to the limits. The foot holes created while climbing up had melted snow water in them and they were majorly soft making us fall deep in them. One definitely require a good pair of shoes which can protect the ankle from getting twisted and mine was doing just great. I only took the camera out whenever required because there was a high chance of breaking it up in one fall or the other. In between my friends and cousin called for the help of Umeid in order to cross that dangerous point again and this time I was shooting them from the back. I also too extreme caution this time because snow was soft and since the railing was on the edge of the track, there was a high chance of getting your leg stuck in between the gorge and railing. But, we all were happy to cross that section without any trouble.
We made further progress at the same slow pace and were fully enjoying it. Water has seeped into the shoes by then and soon the fingers of the right feet had gone numb. However, this time due to the comfortable shoes, I was able to walk down without much trouble even with numb right feet. By 3.15 PM, we finally reached Chopta and immediately ran into the dhabha for a cup of tea. It appeared heaven for us and none of us wanted to move ahead. But, the call of the moment was to move ahead in warmth of the body. The cooler body restricts the movement of various parts of the body making it difficult to walk in cold conditions. Hence, within no time we were on the road again and this time we wanted to follow the road only till Baniya Kund. This meant walking 500-800 Mtrs extra 🙁 but it will be far better than risking the falls in the slush at shortcuts. Even on the road there was about 2 feet of snow at some sections which made the walk difficult through them. But, this time we were sure that there will always be a road beneath this snow :D…
After a weary walk of about 1 hour we finally reached Baniya Kund where our taxi was waiting for us. Without any further delay we jumped into the taxi to rest our sore feet and asses 😀 … In between the downhill walk we also met the foreign couple who told us that even the boy and their guide could not make it to Chandrashilla. It was indeed dangerous to climb up there and tough too. We were more happy with our decision now as there would surely have been some kind of event at least with us 😀 … But, hats off to their stamina as they reached Baniya Kund along with us even after starting from the top so late. They asked us for the lift to Ukhimath and we have no reason to say no :)… So, as they went down to Duggalbitta to un-pitch their tent we waited in the taxi at Duggalbitta for them. Finally, after 20 minutes or so when they came, we started the drive towards Ukhimath and reached the place within half an hour.
Even the Umeid (cook) was surprised that me made it to the top and are also back with ample sunlight still left in the day. Earlier our taxi driver, then few fellow travelers who called in between were also surprised by this fact… But, against all odds the leaders lead their way with determined hearts :D… Anyways it was time for some party, so we asked Umeid to get some booze for us as he was going to the market with the taxi driver and asked Umeid (cook) to prepare pakodas for us. Within no time getting into the room each one of removed the shoes and let the feet feel the air… We changed all the wet clothes and laid on the bed after switching on the geyser for a shower each. One by one we got relaxed with the hot bath and started enjoying the rum with pakoras. Umeid was too high after only 2 so we didn’t let him the other one but unfortunately we could not kept for Umeid (cook) who prepared those delicious pakoras 🙁 … Everyone enjoyed the drinks and seemed to have recovered from the tiredness of the trek. Dinner was also ready having egg curry this time and our stomach wanted to get a feel of it very badly. Since, Umeid had gone too high so we guided him to his room for a good night sleep, after he had two chapattis. We enjoyed the dinner and egg curry was the most delicious meal of the trip so far. After satisfying our tummies to the core we all went for a good night sleep as well 🙂
The Journey ahead-
- A Drive from Ukhimath to Delhi | Revisiting Uttarakhand