D-0 : Arrival in Lohajung (7.6k ft)
I was doing this trip with a couple of good friends. Lohajung was the starting point of our trek. Once we arrived here, we hired a local guide who would take care of our food arrangements. We pretty much had all of our remaining hiking gear required for this trip - including a 1 Litre bottle of Whiskey.
D-1 : Lohajung (7.6k ft) to Didina (8k ft) - 5.2 Miles
We started from Lohajung around 9:30 AM and reached the campsite about 1 PM. The trail descended gradually to Neelganga river and then there was a steep climb to reach Didina - our campsite for the day. It started raining around 3 PM and didn't stop till 7 PM forcing us to be inside our tents. Proper thunderstorm with lots of lightening strikes. At night, the temperatures to upper 40s - lower 50s - I might have sweated a little in my Versalite sleeping bag.
D-2 : Didina (8k ft) to Bedni Bugyal (11.6k ft) - 4.5 Miles
We started early around 7 ish AM. The trail was very steep initially - 3k ft elevation gain over 1.6 miles. We took it slow and easy. We were above tree line towards the end of the climb and it was beautiful. We had walked into vast open meadows - I was told these were Asia's largest high altitude open meadows. The trail was then mostly flat till the campsite - which was an open meadow too. Like everyday, the day started bright and clear. It had become foggy in the afternoon - but the skies opened up again towards the evening making the tall snow-clad peaks around us look beautiful. The temperatures dropped further in the night - around upper 20s - lower 30s.
D-3 : Bedni Bugyal (11.6k ft) to Bhagwa Bhusa (14.1k ft) - 6 Miles
After drying out the wet gear (due to fog and condensation) in the sun, we started a little late around 8:30 AM. It was beautiful looking around - the landscape looked great with the big mountains. I also felt the thinness in the air considerably. The trail climbed gradually first and then there was a steep climb. A few minutes into the steep climb, it started hailing upon us and soon that converted to snow. It snowed for a long time - I think around 4-5 hours. It was a bit tricky setting up my tent in such conditions but hey ho, that's what DCUL trained me for last winter :). We more mostly indoors on this day. The snow was about 1 feet deep around the campsite. I felt temperature went down into upper teens in the night.
D-4 : Bhagwa Bhusa (14.1k ft) to Roopkund (15.6k ft) to Junargali (15.9k ft). Return (via Bhagwa Bhusa) to Pathar Nachauni (12.9k ft) - 6.6 Miles
The plan for the day was to reach on top of Roopkund. There was an optional extra hike (0.2 miles, 300 ft climb) to a semi-summit called Junargali. There were some concerns among the other groups (and there were a lot of them) regarding the fresh snow and our guide was also concerned whether we should go for it or not. Of course we went for it.
We started early at 5:30 AM leaving all of our heavy stuff behind, carrying only water, food and other necessary stuff. We reached Roopkund around 8 AM in the morning. The air was quite thin and we just had to go at a very slow pace. At the top (it is not actually a summit) of Roopkund we saw the famous dried-up lake and human bones which are said to be 600 years old. Now it was upon us to climb further to Junargali. Unlike Roopkund, nobody else was headed in that direction at the time. We decided to continue till we could. This reminded me so much of Hammersly where breaking the trail was difficult. Anyways, it was quite short. Soon, out of breath, we arrived at the top of Junargali (this was not a proper peak). We were treated with gorgeous views of the mighty mountains around us. The weather was perfect too. After taking a lot pics, we started returning to Bhagwa Bhusa. We were back around 11 AM or so. Here we had an early lunch, packed our stuff and headed to our campsite for the day - Pathar Nachauni. I had a mild headache, but was fine otherwise. One of my friends felt nauseous for a bit - she felt better after resting for some time. No other major medical complications. I was relieved. Our campsite was scenic, offering a great view of the mountains we just descended. The weather was great. It was an awesome day.
D-5 : Pathar Nachauni (12.9k ft) to Wan (8k ft) - 8 Miles. Back to Civilization
The day started bright and clear. The three of us walked very slow - kinda not wishing to leave this wonderful place behind. Oh well. We retraced our path to Bedni Bugyal where we took a long break. From here, we diverted from our onward path and turned towards Wan. The trail descended quite sharply here. Also, we were back below the tree line, completely surrounded. No more open terrain. We took our time and took another break at Neelganga river. After a while, we crossed the river and arrived in Wan around 4 PM. A local vehicle took us back to Lohajung where we stayed for the night. The next day we would all return to Haldwani and catch a train to New Delhi.
All in all, we had a lot of fun. It was quite amazing up there. The open meadows and the huge white mountains were just so amazing to watch. I miss them. Based on how the DCUL high altitude trips went, I was quite concerned if we would have high altitude sickness issues. I was relieved that we didn't. I think low and fairly easy miles was a big factor. It helped us acclimatize well. Apart from that, I think I was very well prepared for the trip because of my experience with DCUL winter trips. So, big thanks to DCUL for that. I made a mistake though - I had my summer Merrell Ventilator hiking shoes. Having my waterproof, sturdy Salomon shoes would have helped and so would have a set of microspikes. Oh, well. Next time.
Here is the GPS coverage of what we did :- http://caltopo.com/map?id=5S79
Hi, Karan, Thanks for the trip report. It is so cool to see the GPS map with the mountains on the background. Can not wait to see the photos!!! [;)]