Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chandaniya Ghat – Sutol

This was going to be another long day for us. Generally people camp at “Lata Khopra” but Mahendar wanted to reach back a day earlier and therefore we had decided that we would camp at Sutol. It was relatively cold morning as it had rained the whole night. The Keeda Jadi guys had already left for their work in the morning. By the time we started, it was 7.15 AM. We had to descend down to the Nandakini river and cross the small bridge which the Keeda Jadi folks have made using Birch logs. It was ridge walking along Nandakini river on loose earth which is more scary then walking on boulders.

After sometime the path entered a thickly forested area. This was Birch and Rhododendron country and we were all enjoying this walk. Nobody wanted to take rest because we were not much tired. It was one of the easier walks on this trek amidst very thick forest. After walking for about 4 hours, we reached the campsite of “Lata Khopra”. This is one of the most beautiful sites I have seen and I was a little sad that we were not camping here.

The campsite is really beautiful and one could just relax with a book in these deliriously beautiful location. If time would have permitted, we would have definitely camped here. After Lata Khopra, the forest became even thicker and we were wondering that trekking in these areas during the rainy season would be nightmare. We also had to deal with a lot of “Tree-crossing” on this trek.
The thick birch forest now gave way thick bamboo forest. The bamboo and fern forest was really beautiful; we saw lot of huge ferns and the cobra lily plants .

We were also starting to feel the heat now. There were quite a lot of creeks on the way and was really helpful because we refilled our water bottles many times. We had been walking for almost 6 hours now and still there were no signs of the forest giving way to villages. I asked our guide how far Sutol was and he gave me a big smile. I understood, we still had a long way to go.
JP had some stuff left from our emergency kit and we thought this time was more than appropriate to use the stuff from the emergency kit. We had some dry fruits which give instant energy, but still were feeling tired. I thought today’s tiredness was because we had had a long day yesterday as well. Finally at around 2 PM which reached a small village called “Tatada”. We decided we would camp here but after reaching the village we came to know, there was no water nearby. All the men of the village had gone for collecting the Keeda jadi and so no one was there to report the water problem as well. The women had to get the water from a water creek which was 2 km from the village. So we had no option but to go to Sutol which was another 3 Km from the Tatada. At least for me, it looked a very tiring walk and I had not had anything to eat since morning. We asked our guide if we could prepare some Maggi and he agreed for the same. After eating the noodles, we got some energy and we started for Sutol. It was an easy descent and it took us around an hour’s time to reach down near the river. On the way met a villager who informed us there was no water in Sutol as well and we decided to camp a little below the village by the river.
In the morning, when we had started from Chandnaiya Ghat, our guide had told us that we could get some place to stay and possibly some hot water in Sutol. But the villager's words disappointed us.
We finally reached our campsite at Sutol (~7800 feet) at about 4 PM after walking for almost 9 hours. After seeing the campsite, we were very happy and we realized that it was a good idea of not spending the night in the village. This was one of the best campsites. The camps were pitched on plain grassy land and the Nandakini River was flowing next to our campsite. There was small water canal and all of us decided to freshen up. It was one of the most refreshing afternoons after a seemingly long time. The water was cold but compared to what we had seen earlier it seemed to very refreshing. The campsite was comparatively very warm too. So all of us just hit the water and felt refreshed.

The Sutol village was at around 100 mts up from our campsite. Lot of children visited us in evening.

It was a celebration time; we were virtually at the end of the trek today. Our guide got some food stuff from the Sutol village and prepared some delicious pakoras. It was a perfect evening. Sandeep and I were enjoying the surroundings with hot pakoras.

I think the life in Himalayas appears to be very beautiful from outside; but I can very well imagine the tough life this people lead. In Sutol, they have a small school but no proper books are available. When we were in Tatada, we met a girl who had broken her arm ; but there were no medical facilities available around for miles. When this people see anyone from civilization, they ask only for some medicines. I hope the condition of the villages on this route and around here improves. I think the Uttarakhand government has lot of plans to develop this area before Nanda Devi Raj Yatra and I sincerely hope that the villagers are benefited from the development.
Our porters had gathered lot of wood and started campfire. We were strolling out in the open till late night – our porters had been on a singing spree and by the time they were done, it was about 10:30 in the night.

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