Wildflowers at VoF
20th July 2007 - The 8:30AM Bus from Uttarkashi reached Srinagar at 5:15PM after passing thru Dharasu, Chinyalisaur, Chamba, New Tehri, Maletha. At Srinagar, stayed in the GMVN-TRH right next to the Srinagar bus-stand. A double-room was Rs 340/- per night.
The 14Km trek to Ghangariya was a steep 1200M (4000 ft) climb from Govindghat 1815M to Ghangaria at 3015M; but the trail was well paved and side-barricaded in most places for the benefit of the pilgrims. There were hundreds of pilgrims on the trail, quite of few them Sr. Citizens huffing and puffing up the steep climb. And many were riding on Khachars (ponies) or carried in Doli's by porters.
But due to the rains, the trail was slushy and muddy at many places ... and the pony-shit from hundreds of Khachaars made the trail the stinkiest trek, I have ever done. The last 2 Km stretch of the trail was bad with a jumble of rocks and slush.
I felt sorry for the Pilgrims ... & for myself ... that this slushy & smelly situation totally nullified the wonderful scenery, we were passing.
I was the first trekker to buy the Rs 50/- entry ticket into VOF that day at 7:00AM. The pleasant staff at the check-post explained the route me. They said there were some landslides ahead on the trail (due to due to heavy overnight rain) and sent some 4-5 people ahead of me to repair that and create a path through that landslide for me ... and others who will come by later in the morning.
At 10:15AM, I turned back from this stream, as it started drizzling lightly and the clouds moved in .... I donned my Rs 10/- poncho:
These are some of the colorful wildflowers seen at Valley of Flowers
22nd July 2007 - At 5:30AM packed a small backpack and left the main luggage at GMVN Joshimath. At 6:00AM went to the Gate and caught a Bus going to Badrinath. Hopped off at Govindghat at 7:15AM. A huge rush of Sikh pilgrims, were headed to Hemkund. Walked thru narrow street of Govindghat, to reach the suspension bridge (next to the Gurudwara) that crosses the Alakananda river. This is where the trail to Ghangariya starts.
Govindghat - the hill in front has hundreds of ant-like Pilgrims ... climbing series of switchbacks that rise steeply up the hillside. The river Hem Ganga (right) joins Alakananda (left) coming from Badrinath (click on image to enlarge)
23rd July 2007 - At 5:30AM, I started the trek to VoF, with a pack-lunch of Alu Parathas. The Sikh pilgrims going to Hemkund too were all up and there was great rush and bustle on the trail heading out of Ghangaraiya.
By 10:30AM it started drizzling strongly, so I headed back the trail towards Ghangariya. On the way met several other trekkers too enjoying this beautiful green valley even though it was raining. But in all only about 20 people visited the VoF that day; a very small number compared to the thousands going to Hemkund on that day. I reached Ghangaria by 1:00PM and had lunch of at one of the many Dhabas there and then back at my GMVN dorm bed.
24rd July 2007 - Seeing the huge rush of pilgrims, I dropped the idea of climbing up to Hemkund and decided to head back to Govindghat. So by 5:30AM started back on the paved trail and made good speed as it was downhill all the way. I reached G'ghat by 10:30AM. Walked to teh highyway and was able to get a bus heading to Joshimath. At Joshimath got another bus to Rudraprayag and then another bus to Srinagar. Arrived Srinagar at 6:00PM and checked into the GMVN there.