Day 3 was supposed to be the climax of our trek as I woke up at 5 am, hoping to get a clear sky for a perfect sunrise shot. And it was- crystal clear! We enjoyed the sunrise on the Hathi, Ghori, Palki, Kamet group of peaks. It would be a long hard day so we set off early at around 8am. The climb from Khullara to Gailgarh was a long one and some of us were having frequent breathlessness. From Gailgarh we moved on the cliff straight ahead and gained height. The speed of group became slower and in 3 hours we reached the Gailgarh top which provided equally spectacular views as Jhindidhar had provided us the day before. Since we were well short time our guide urged us to speed up.
On the way from Khullara campsite
Entering boulder zone
The panoramic view from Gailgarh top on the way to Pangarchula
It was a cakewalk for Sanjay our guide who had climbed Pangarchula peak 33 times before our trip. After another couple of hours we finally reached the boulder zone. I was alone with Sanjay as the rest of our group was lagging behind. It was a long stretch of boulders so we decided to mark a stone for our group to stop at that point and wait for us to return from the peak. It was a very risky for trekkers to cross the boulder stretch alone as getting drifted from the route wasn’t difficult. I cautiously started moving over the boulders, calculating every jump. From March till May, the whole area is covered with snow and it is a relatively easy walk on the snow till the summit. It was much more difficult crossing boulders in an altitude of around 4000 metre. At 2.30 pm we reached the base of the cliff. It looked like a small area of boulders but after traversing through it I realized it was more than a kilometer stretch.
I started climbing towards the summit. Sanjay was taking very little time and was moving swiftly over the rocks. I often saw him sitting on a higher point waiting for me to catch up. With the summit so close my efforts were in full force but frequent stops were unavoidable. After an hour I gained altitude of around 350 metre to 4300 metre. The climb was becoming more difficulty and at a point it was almost at 70-80 degrees. Looking at my condition Sanjay suggested that we should head back as it was very late for a summit attempt. I strive hard and climbed up that stretch only to realize that there were many more awaiting. It was a wise decision to descent as progressing any further in the late afternoon wouldn’t be a wise decision. It was a fast descent and in an hour and half we met the rest of our group members. Pangarchulla peak in the background was glowing in last rays of the day. We headed down through the slopes and hiked 4 km to the lower Deyalisera campsite. It was already dark as we went straight towards the campfire which was made under a big rock and acted as a shield from the chilly winds. The campsite of Deyalisera campsite was smaller in area and after dinner headed to our tents.
A night with the stars
Setting sun with stunning views
Ravi and Tango trying out stuff
So near yet so far
Spending chilly nights with a fire under a starry sky
Boulder zone towards Pangarchulla base
A the base of Pangurchula ready for summit push
View of Deyalisera campsite from the trail on the way back
Day 4- November 13th
After breakfast with porridge we started our day with a gradual descent. We entered a grassy zone heading up to thick jungle trail. Our guide reminded us that leopards and wild boars were frequently found in this trail. A call of Himalayan Monal suddenly grabbed our attention but the State bird of Uttarakhand visually eluded us. We followed the trail through the bushes, crossed a few frozen streams and collected Bhoj tree barks as souvenirs. Few leopard pug marks were discretely visible on the way. In three hours we reached the Khullara campsite and enjoyed the lunch on a rock.
Selfie at the start of the day
Tathagata moving through the trail
Leopard pug marks on the trail
Entering the forest zone
Ravi taking a perfect break
The sky from Khullara campsite on the way back
It was a clear day once again and in another two hours we reached the Gulling campsite. It was surrounded by walnut and hazelnut trees on one side and panoramic view of snow capped mountains on the other. After pitching the tents we rushed to the nearby stream for a quick bath. Locals were strolling around with their herd of sheep and helped me generously to collect the nuts. With a pocket full of nuts I happily headed back to the campsite. It was a clear night and after some juvenile attempts at astro-photography we dozed off for the night.
It was our last day. We got noodles for breakfast and started our trek. In a short time we reached the Upper Tugasi village. The mud huts were built along the narrow lane. We followed the trail and reached the main village. It was a 6 km walk ending in the road to Dhak. Our jeep was waiting for us. We waived goodbye to the ever helpful porters and headed on. A clear view of Mt Nanda Devi had enthralled us earlier. So we stopped at a viewpoint for a close up view of the peak.We had a company of few stray dogs who were overwhelmed on getting a part of our lunch. After a short break we reached Joshimath. The experience of the Himalayas in the past 5 days left a long lasting impression on our memories and we were all set to move ahead. All of us were extremely excited about the documentary which would be made from our journey.
Walking through Tugasi village
Walnut trees with the colours of fall
Doggies enjoy every bit of food offered by Ravi
A tugasi village resident we met on the way
A Tugasi village resident
Nanda devi from the view point on the way back to Joshimath