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Roopkund Trek - Day 2: Get, Set, Go! Heading to our first campsite - Ghairoli Patal (altitude: 10000 ft)

This post is part of Roopkund Trek - An unforgettable adventure!. The previous article in the series is Day 1: Arriving at Kathgodam, meeting the group and heading to Lohajung, the base camp (altitude: 7700 ft).

Every night, when we go to bed, we are told about when to get ready for the next day. We are given three timings. For instance, for the first day, it was 6.00, 7.00 and 8.00. What this means is that tea would be served at 6.00, breakfast at 7.00 and the trek would commence at 8.00. So, waking up to a beautiful morning in the Himalayas, all of us had breakfast and were ready to leave the base camp by 8.00. We were given some light snacks to carry along with us. Also, we were given the option of offloading our backpacks. And as far as I remember, only two of us (including me) decided to offload our backpacks on the first day.

The actual trek was to start from a village Wan, which was a 45 mins drive from Lohajung. Apart from the 23 trekkers and the trek lead, we also had two guides to assist us - Dhansingh and Devender. While Devender was from Wan, Dhansingh was from a different village. I ended up interacting with Dhansingh more and got to know that this was the 204th time that he was doing the Roopkund trek. He was initially working as a private guide and then joined Indiahikes a few years ago.

Once we reached Wan, we finally commenced the trek to our first campsite - Ghairoli Patal. The trek started with an initial steep ascent, towards the end of which was a temple.

It continued into a forest and on the way, we got to see a variety of flora and often got to see the Neel Ganga river.

We also took frequent breaks at small shops which were en-route to our campsite.

For almost the entire trek, I was trekking with Smitha. She was having difficulty during ascent and hence often we two ended up trekking separately, either starting early or lagging behind. Smitha, a CA by profession, and unmarried by choice was trekking for the first time in life. I got to know a lot about her personality through the trek and realized how she never hesitated from doing what was right or what her heart told, even when the society strongly discouraged it. She fondly spoke of her late father, who loved the Himalayas and how this trek was sort of a dedication to him. Accompanying both of us, often was the guide Dhansingh. While we often missed the stories narrated by the other guide, Devender who was with the front trekkers, we had the advantage of some special fruit treats by Dhansingh and experiencing nature at a more relaxed pace.

After a good 8 km trek for about 5 hours, we finally reached our campsite - Ghairoli Patal. We quickly did a few stretching exercises, after which we received instructions about staying in the campsite. We were to stay in tents. Each tent was to be occupied by 3 persons. The trek leader and the guides slept in a separate tent. And there was a separate tent for the 3 ladies in the batch. We were not supposed to keep our trekking shoes or poles inside the tent. The tent had two layers, the outer layer to protect from rain and the inner layer to protect from wind. We were supposed to keep it closed at all times. Toilet tents were about 100 metres away from the sleeping tents. Lunch was to be served immediately, snacks were to be served at 4.00, soup at 6.00 and dinner at 8.00. We were to supposed to wash our own utensils, which became quite excruciating at higher altitudes.

My tent mates turned out to be two IISC PhD students - Hari and Harish. They were pretty cool and the three of us adjusted pretty well. Both of them had done the Hampta pass trek last year. While Hari was still pursuing his PhD, Harish had completed his PhD a while back, worked at IBM and was now due to join IIT-Delhi as an assistant professor. As nerdy as his qualifications might sound, Harish had a pretty good sense of humour. I remember asking him if I'd wake up a bit more smarter as were sleeping in the same tent, to which he replied that the probability of me waking up a bit more crazier was higher as it was his crazier side rather than his academic side that was active currently.

Along with Hari and Harish, there were three more IISC students, who had come with them - Chaitu, Arun and Nishant. Arun had already graduated from IISC but Chaitu and Nishant were still studying. The youngest among the ladies in the batch, Chaitu seemed like always wanting more action. And I'll remember Nishant for his account of leech trouble that he and his friend faced during one of their treks. They had ended up with leeches inside the mouth and the ear. While I wasn't petrified by it, it certainly made me cautious and I always made it a point to check my shoes every day morning before putting them on for any hidden insects.

After lunch, some of us decided to have a quick nap while other whiled away the time by gossiping. I decided to read my book "Sapiens", which I got my hands on just a couple of books. I felt reading about our evolutionary history while being close to nature would be quite situational.

We all gathered together post snacks at 4.00 to introduce ourselves, for which we didn't have time during the previous day at our base camp. The trek leader also suggested that we give ourselves nicknames so that it would be easier for others to remember the names. I decided to name myself "Rowdy Rahul" for apparently no good reason. I guess that was the first adjective that came to my mind starting with 'R' and I just decided to stick to it. Part of that exercise was also to repeat the nicknames that other had given to themselves. And it was fun watching how the nicknames were often goofed up by others while repeating. For instance, one of the trekkers named Ameya, nicknamed himself "Awesome Ameya" with a lot of pride, only to be confused it with "Awful Ameya" by another trekker.

Post a fulfilling dinner at 7.00, some of us went back to sleep in our tents. I, along with some others, spent some time gazing at the clear skies. I tried to capture a few pictures of the milky way, but my basic point and shoot wasn't good enough for capturing it. This was captured by other trekkers, who had DSLR. And here is one of the photographs that a fellow trekker, Rahul, had shared in the group.

Rahul, an avid biker, had decided to drive down from Delhi to Lohajung (a whopping 500 km). He was travelling next to Valley of Flowers for another trek. He had a 2-week leave, and he intended to make the most of it. Rahul is alos interested in photography and the milky way photography that you have seen above is his courtesy.

I went back to my bed once I felt I had my fill of the night sky and as I fell asleep, I wondered how the next day would turn out to be!

Go on to the next article in the series: Day 3: Trekking to the most beautiful campsite - Bedni Bugyal (altitude: 11500 ft).


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