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Rookund Trek - Day 1: Arriving at Kathgodam, meeting the group and heading to Lohajung, the base camp (altitude: 7700 ft)

This post is part of Roopkund Trek - An unforgettable adventure!. The previous article in the series is Departing from Hyderabad.

The train arrived at Kathgodam in the morning at 6.00 AM. A small town located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, this was the starting pickup point by Indiahikes. It was here that I realized that the batch size was 23. Although all strangers at that moment and me being unable to even recollect their names properly, by the end of the trek, all of them became quite familiar. After a few quick introductions, we started to proceed to our base camp - Lohajung in a tempo traveller and two sumos. This was to be an 11-hour journey in the foothills of the Himalayas.

We stopped for breakfast at a small restaurant on our way. Over breakfast, I got to know that there was a group of 3 persons: Saksham, Ayush and Abhishek who were working in Singapore and had decided to do the trek as part of their holiday. But what really excited me was the fact that two of them, Sakham and Ayush were actually alumni of the same school from which I had graduated, IIIT-H. IIIT-H, being a young university, it is always a pleasant surprise to come across other alumni in random places. I also got to know of another group from Kolkatta, West Bengal - Diptajit, Abhradip and Raja. Light-hearted and jovial, they were always welcoming. Perhaps, it is just a coincidence, but I've recently had three Bengalis in my team at work and I feel that spending time with Diptajit, Abhradip and Raja has helped me understand their culture and people better.

The drive to Lohajung was a beautiful one, often coming across a mix of steep mountains, rivers and meadows. We also had a flat tyre at one point and had to get out of the vehicle. I got to see a few kids playing. Using my extremely persuasive skills, I also managed to get a few quick shots of them. I believe the local culture is best captured through the people there.

We eventually reached Lohajung in the evening around 7.00 PM and were taken to the Indiahikes building, where we got to meet some of the other Indiahikes staff. This is where I was introduced for the first time to one of the most important devices to carry on a trek from a health perspective - Oximeter. The oximeter is a small device that is hooked on to your finger and can be used to measure the oxygen and pulse rate.

So, why are these metrics so important? The main purpose of the oxygen levels is to identify early signs of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). While I won't get into the details of what it is, I guess it suffices to say, that this is a serious condition and would definitely mean you need medical attention and cannot continue with the trek. Using the oximeter, the Indiahikes team could take a call if they need to use some medication (typically Diamox) as a preventive measure if the oxygen level starts falling. We were given a health card, which was used to track our oximeter readings multiple times in a day. From what I understand, you are fine as long as your reading is above 90%.

After the readings of the oximeter were taken, we proceeded to have supper. Post supper, we had a welcome meeting with our trek leader, Shivam, in which he introduced himself and spoke about some of the dos and don't during the trek. Shivam had an interesting story to share about how he ended up being a trek leader. He was working for a corporate and after about a year, he began to analyze how his future would be if he continued working over there. Apparently, he realized that he could grow up the ladder if he continued working, but somehow that didn't excite him much. Having done a few treks prior, he felt that being a trek leader was the right choice in terms of getting exposure to a variety of disciplines, be it human interactions, leadership skills or basic medical knowledge, which would be valuable if he decided to pursue an MBA. Further, he has always been very active in sports and was fairly confident that he could endure the physical hardship involved in being a trek lead. Hence, he decided to quit his job and work as a trek leader for a while with Indiahikes. Just in his early twenties, the amount of energy that Shivam had and his choice of pursuing such a unique path had impressed us all!

As part of this meeting, we also got to know of the Green Trails initiate of Indiahikes. The purpose of this initiative is to encourage the trekkers to collect garbage (mainly non-organic waste such as plastic bottles, wrappers, cans, etc.) as we are trekking and then deposit it at the campsite, from where it is taken back to the base camp and then disposed of properly. For achieving this, all the trekkers were given an eco bag which we were supposed to use for collecting the waste. You can read up more about the Green Trails initiative at

As soon as the meeting was over, all of us went to bed immediately, tired from all the day's journey and excited about the adventure that was to begin the next day!

Go on to the next article in the series: Day 2: Get, Set, Go! Heading to our first campsite - Ghairoli Patal (altitude: 10000 ft).


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