Highlight pictures from this Tour:
Picture above shows my 3 friends Gautam, Asit and Sasanka. They reached zero point half-hour before me but waited for me there, so they could share their joy of reaching the destination with me
Detailed Diary of Trek:
21st Sept 2004 - Bageshwar is the trail head town for Pindari Trek. It is a pilgrimage town at the confluence of two rivers - Gomti and Sarayu. I reached the KMVN Tourist Guest House in Bageshwar in the afternoon. I had arrived that morning at Kathgodam railway station by Ranikhet Express, from Delhi and taken a share Sumo-jeep, first to Almora and then another one to Bageshwar. A total of 7 hours road journey through some hilly terrain in the Kumaon Himalayan foothills.
22nd Sept 2004 - I spent this day exploring the Bageshwar town and bazaar areas, visited the Bagnath Shiva Temple (pic left) and then climbed the nearby Nateshwar Hill from the top of which I took the picture showing the sangam of Gomti and Sarayu rivers (pic left above). The KMVN Manager, Kamal, fixed a guide-porter Debu for my trek and also helped plan a 'relaxed' 9-day schedule of trekking to Pindari Glacier and back.
23rd Sept 2004 - Debu and I set off at 7:00am and took a share jeep, first to Khapkot and then to Saung Village arriving 9:30am. From Saung we started the trek with a steep climb up past Loharkhet village to the KMVN Trekkers hut on top of the hill above the village, arriving at Noon. The trekkers' hut was pretty decent and the food roti-dal-rice-sabzi cooked by the caretaker was pretty good. We were really hungry after the stiff climb of 1500ft and hogged the food. Picture above shows Debu, in front of the valley looking down towards Saung from the Loharkhet Hut. Relaxed the whole afternoon and in the evening visited a nearby temple. Three other trekkers, Bengali's from Kolkata, also arrived at Loharkhet that afternoon. The picture (left) taken on the front lawn of KMVN GH Loharkhet, shows Gautam Ganguly, me and Asit Biswas (L to R ).
24th Sept 2004 - 6:00am left Loharkhet for the long climb up to Dhakuria Pass (9650 ft). This was a long and tough trekking day for a first-timer like me. The pic left shows other backpackers climbing the mountain. Around 12 noon we reached the Dhakuri top. You can see the god-fearing Debu offering a thanksgiving prayer on reaching the crest; with the Himalayan peaks (Maikatoli) visible in the distance. You can also see the Pindari valley heading north just to the left of Debu's folded hands.
After reaching the top we had to climb down 300 ft to reach the Dhakuri KMVN Trekkers Hut located in a very scenic circular meadow; in a valley surrounded on all sides by dense forest of tall pine trees (see pic left below of the lodge). The GH was excellent with decent beds and excellent food served hot by the caretaker. This was one of the most scenic stops (see pics below) in the entire Pindari trek route. Some people even stay here for a few days before moving on.
25th Sept 2004 - The next morning at sunrise with the sky clear of clouds, saw some astounding view of the peaks of Nanda Khat, Nanda Kot (pics left) and Maikatoli (pic below) from the lawns of the Dhakuri GH.
After breakfast, on 25th Sept, started for Khati our next destination. Fortunately Khati at 7250 ft is a descent of 1350 ft over 8 kms with several small villages on the way. Debu's home is at Khati village, which is at the confluence of Pindari and Sunderdunga rivers. We reached Khati pretty early by 10:30am. But the KMVN GH here is at further 1km of steep climb beyond Khati. Arrived at 11:00 Kharak Singh the chowkidar there cooked up a hot meal by 12:30pm. Later in the afternoon met Mr. Krishnan of Dombivli and his guide Tej Singh at the GH on their way back from Pindari to Bageshwar (pic left).
26th Sept 2004 - Again set off early from Khati to Dwali our next stop. A 11km trek of many ups and downs along the Pindari river valle. The route was pretty much of a jungle, with trees, waterfalls and several riverbed crossings. The pictures (left) show Debu posing next to Pindari river, the river bed Chai Shack (left below) where we had rest and tea. Later we met up with Mukul (of Thane) & James (Salem, MA,USA) in pic below with Debu. James exchanged his US manufactured Ice Axe for Debu's country made Ice Axe. Both were very happy with the exchange; James thought he had a gained a hand-made antique for his living room display and Debu was happy with his new sleek "Diamond" Ice Axe.
Dwali is at altitude of 8500ft,
at the confluence Pindari and Kafni rivers. In the final stretch before reaching Dwali one has to cross a bridge over the river Pindari. The pic left show a waterfall near Dwali, the bridge (pic below) one has to cross just before reaching Dwali and the welcome sign (pic left below) at Dwali KMVN Guest House. we reached Dwali at Noon.
The Dwali Guest house was overflowing with a Air Force Trekking team of 20 Pilot Officers along with their Squadron Leader. I barely managed to get a bed in the Store attached to the Kitchen! But it was fun interacting with the young and enthusiastic team of officers that included a lady Pilot Officer! they were mainly Sukhoi fighter Pilots. In the pic (left) Sqd. Ldr. Joshi and few other pilots with KS.
On 27th Sept 2004 at 7:00am left Dwali for Phurkiya, a short 5 Kms trek, but a steep climb of 2200ft up to an altitude of 10650 ft. We reached Phurkiya in 3 hours by 10 am. Checked into the KMVN GH at Phurkiya. The pic (left) shows a tired me, plonking down in a chair just after reaching Phurkiya GH. The 3 Bengali's too met up with me here at Phurkiya same day afternoon. We planned our final 'assault' to Pindari zero point, starting before dawn for tomorrow.
28th Sept 2004 - the final destination - Pindari glacier zero point
We left Phurkiya very early at 5:00am in order to reach zero point and come back to camp before any weather issues come up. It was pretty cold and i was suitably covered up in a monkey cup. The pic shows me up going up the valley at 6 am. You can see the peaks and the glacier in the distance behind me.
The next picture shows the dawn sun ray reaching the Nanda Khat peak at 6:07 am.
At 8 am reached the hut of the Sadhu Baba who camps the whole year at Pindari and caters to the trekkers who come up. But that day he was not seen around.
After trekking for another 1 km, we finally reached the Zero point at 8:45am. Zero Point is where the Glacier and Moraine lie. Ordinary trekkers are allowed only up-to this point. The real mountaineers with equipment can go further up over the glacier to the Trails Pass ahead. Pics below Debu and me raising the Ice Axe as a sign of victory in reaching the final goal after 5 days of trekking covering 45 kms and climbing from an altitude of 1400m/4600ft at Saung to 3820m/12530 ft at Pindari Zero point.
Above: Pindari Galcier from zero Point
We started back from Zero Point at 9:30am and were back at Phurkiya by Noon. Had a quick lunch, packed and started back for Dwali by 1:30pm and reached Dwali KMVN GH by 4:00pm. Dwali KMVN Caretaker and his assistant 'Chotu' (pic left) with Pindari & Kafni confluence in background. The view looking back from Dwali at Nanda Khat thru the Pindari valley in pic left below.
29th Sept 2004 started back for Khati at 7:00am. Said bye to the 3 Bengalis who planned to go to Kafni Glacier as a side trek. The 11Km trek back to Khati in 4.5hrs reaching KMVN at 11:30am.
30th sept 2004 7:00 am packed and went down to Khati village and visited Debu's home and took some pictures of his family in front of his house there. Pic below shows Debu with his wife and three sons. For the rest of the journey back Debu sent his eldest son Khilap with me carrying my bag as he wanted to hurry forward to Saung in one day to meet his next customer group. Khilap's pic below taken at Dhakuri when we reached there by Noon of 30th sept. Dhakuri GH area was abuzz with a platoon of some 40 school kids from Rishi Valley headed for Pindari glacier.
1st October 2004 got up early dawn to see the Himalayan peaks one last time before departing at 6:30am. Pics left taken from Dhakuri Top looking back and down at the Dhakuri KMVN meadow. You can see the GH cottages clearly some 500m down below. A last view of Himalayas and Maiktoli from Dhakuri pass in pic left below.
As expected, the trek back to Loharkhet was long and strenuous and reached Loharkhet 11:30am. Had a quick lunch at KMVN GH and started at Noon to climb down to Saung. Took a jeep from Saung to Khapkot and then to Bageshwar KMVN GH by 4:30 pm.
Wow! what an incredible trek it was! Needed a full days rest at the GH on 2nd October to fully recover from the tiredness of the trek and also get my clothes washed and ironed.
While resting, I planned my onward journey to Kausani, Chokhori and Munsiyari. I decided to travel by local buses or jeeps for a week or so. At these Hill Stations I could rest and relax, as well as get views of the Himalayas from different angles.