27th September 2005 - Got off Ranikhet Express at Kathgodam Stn. at 6:30AM and got a share-Sumo to Almora. Nearing Almora, we were stalled in a traffic jam for about 3 hours, as a loaded Lorry was stuck in the mud of a landslide and required a tow-truck to pull it away to clear the road.
Our Sumo in traffic jam
I was planning to get another Sumo at Almora, to go on to Bageshwar at the confluence of Sarayau and Gomti rivers. Bageswar is the Trail-head town for many treks to Nanada Devi Sanctuary area like Pindari, Kafni and Sunderdunga.
Me at teashop, between Loharkhet and Dhakuri.
Sunrise view of Maikatoli from Dhakuri KMVN Resthouse
Anand at the wooden bridge below Khati on Sundardunga river
Sobin Singh, me and Anand (L to R) in front of the GH at Jeotali.
Tapas, Anand & Debu in front of a waterfall on way to Kathaliya.
Anand and me .... a rest-stop on way to Balni Top.
Debu pitched our tent at Balni Top in a sort of depression, sheltered by stones all around. Seemed like a well-used tent pitching site!
Maikatoli at sunrise! click on above image to see very large!!
Panwali Duar ... at 8:11am as we unpitched our tent to leave.
View looking down into Sunderdunga Valley ... as we go down
The Indian Navy team bon-fire party at Kathaliya
Bon-fire party at Kathaliya
At 10:20am we made a rest-stop on the Sunderdunga river bed ... and Debu soon got a small fire going for making tea and breakfast.
Back at Jeotali .. an evening tea party ... with Sobin Singh, Debu and I-forget-his-name, the Guide of the Navy team.
A Jeotali village lady known to Debu posed for this photo.
The flour mill owner - operator in front of the equipment .... inside the water-powered flour mill.
View of Khati Village in the distance; as we started our trek back to Dhakuri, on 7th Oct morning
Debu wanted a pic taken of his handing me a flower in rest-stop on way between Khati and Dhakuri.
Above picture: Panwali Dwar taken from Balni Top
The fast flowing stream and the lush greenery near Almora traffic jam
The traffic jam cleared at 10:30AM and we reached Almora at 11:30. A Sumo leaving for Bageshwar at 12:30PM. I had been thru this route last year, while going for the Pindari Trek. The scenery was awesome and seemed even greener this year ... maybe the monsoon was more plentiful this year. I reached Bageshwar KMVN at 4:00PM and found Manager Kamal still manning the Reception desk there with his assistant Dhoop Singh.
Debu my regular Porter-Guide met me that evening at KMVN and we formalised the schedule for Sunderdunga trek starting next day. The trek route till Khati (4th day) was same as the one we did while going to Pindari. At Khati change trail and go north on a valley adjacent and sort of parallel to the one we took for Pindari. On 28th Sept we left Bageshwar at 8:30AM and took jeep to Khapkot and then changed to another Jeep for Song and a third jeep at Song, that took us all the way up to Loharkhet KNVN lodge. Last year we had climbed up from Song to Loharkhet.
Debu at Peter Kost's Cemetery ... and ringing bell at Dhakuri Top
29th Sept we started at 6:30am from Loharkhet for the long trek to Dhakuri; reached the Pass top at 11:45am and descend to the Dhakuri meadow by 12:30pm and took a room in KMVN rest house.
Next day, 30th Sept after viewing the sunrise on Maikatoli and Panwali Duar from Dhakuri we left at 6:45am. Reached Khati village by 11:30am. Got a room in the PWD Guesthouse there and relaxed for the rest of the day reading a book in the guest house garden. Debu went home as he stays at Khati.
on 1st October we left Khati at 7:30am. Debu's 2nd son Anand also joined us. Debu was training him for a career as a trek guide. We climbed steeply down to the confluence of Sunderdunga and Pindar rivers and crossed two wooden bridges. We then headed up the Sundardunga valley (on true right) and reached Jeotali village at 11:30am. We checked into a private GH called Himalaya Hotel run by an ex-Army Gurkha Unit retiree, Sobin Singh. At Jeotali, we met Tapas Kalyan Dhali, a Bengali trekker from Madhaymgram, Hooghly, WB, who was Debu's client in previous year trek to Roopkund.
On 2nd October started early at 6:30am for Kathaliya, a stiff 15km trek with landslides and detours. reached the Shepard's hut at kathaliya at 4:30pm tired out. On the way again met Tapas and his two guides at the river bed lunch spot. It was dark pretty soon and getting colder. Had a quick dinner of dal, roti, sabzi and slept off at 7:00PM.
Panwali Duar (6663m) view ..... while climbing up to Balni Top
Next day, 3rd October, early at 6:30am we started to climb up steeply to Balni Top above Kathaliya. So we could get better view of the Sunderdunga ranges of Maikatoli, Panwali Duar etc. We reached Balni Top at 10:m and pitched our tent there. We spent the rest of the day looking at wonderful views all around from the nice grassy meadow around our camp site.
Anand and me .... having breakfast at 11:35am ... at Balni-Top
Next day, 4th Oct, morning sunrise view of Maikatoli at 6:08 am just "hand- stretch" away across the valley from our Balni Top tent site.
Pic of Anand and Debu ... with Sukhram Caves in the distance ... but you can hardly see the caves in this picture.
Back at Kathaliya a Indian Navy team of 30+ climbers had arrived ... and they were starting a bon-fire ... for a drinks & dinner party. I got invited too. The party went on till late night! But I hit sack by 9:00PM
Next day 5th Oct, early morning at 6:30am we started our trek back to Jeotali. We had to cross several landslides which seemed more dangerous now on the return journey, than when we came in. Maybe I was more tired now? Though the Navy team was fast asleep when we started, the young Officers soon overtook us at 8;20am at this dangerous waterfall crossing (pic below):
After a long trudge (total 8 hrs) we neared Jeotali village around 2pm in the afternoon. Just before the last stretch climb down to the village, I heard some singing voices ..... and at a turn on the trail came upon these two Jeotali village girls, supervising some grazing sheep. Seeing us the shy girls stopped singing ..... but agreed to be photographed (above).
On 6th Oct, on the trail from Jeotali to Khati we came across a Flour Mill (pic above) that was run by water-power.
On 7th Oct we left Khati at 7:20am and reached Dhakuri at Noon. Lunch and rest of the day relaxing in the KMVN-FRH at Dhakuri.
On 8th Oct morning left Dhauri at 6:30am and reached Loharkhet KMVN FRH at 11:30am ...a linch of rice-dal-sabji there. Luckinly Debu found a jeep going down to Saung at 2:30pm. We left by that. that road was jsut mud track and so the jeep did all kinds dangerous sawying! We took other share jeep from Saong to Khapkot and another from there to Bageshwar, reaching KMVN GH there at 5:00pm.
A shepard-boy in Loharkhet .... He goes to school in mornings and supervises his family's flock of sheep, grazing in the grassy meadows of Loharkhet in the afternoons.
Click above to see all pictures as slideshow