Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shila Samudra – Dodang

Today was Sandeep’s birthday. He had grown old on this trek itself. Everyone wished him early morning, from inside the tent itself.
Since yesterday had been a long day for us, we decided to start little late. The Bengali group started at 6.30 AM to cross the Juanar Gali pass. It was going to be a long and difficult day for them. Attempting Junar Gali from Shila Samudra can be more difficult than crossing from the Roopkund side. We all wished them good luck for a successful crossing.
We got ready and started at 9.30AM. It was an easy 20-30 minutes descent to reach the actual glacier of Trishul which gives its name to this area - Shila Samudra. We had to cross this big boulder zone. This is the glacial moraine of Mt Trishul.

It took us more than a hour to cross over to this ocean of stones and then we had to climb a ridge to go towards Dodang. At this point, we had trek along the Nandakini river. We could see the way which went towards Chandaniya Ghat which was supposed to be our campsite for the next day.
On the way JP and Rajeev found the skull with horns of a dead Bharal. Everyone clicked photos with it.

We were now walking along the Nandakini river bed on the boulders. The progress was slow as there was no trail and there was a lot of going up the ridge and then suddenly getting down to the river bed. Everyone slipped at least once on the boulders but luckily no one got hurt. On one such ridge, I slipped from the way and Sandeep quickly arrested my fall. JP pulled me up using his walking stick. On the way again, JP suddenly slipped on the boulders and landed on his back. Fortunately there were no injuries but these were really some scary moments.

We reached the campsite at Dodang (~13700 feet) at around 2.30 PM. The meaning of Dodang is “Two Stones”. The campsite was a small clearing between two very big boulders.

There was a small water creek very next to our camp which was directly coming from the glacier above the camp. After everyone reached the campsite, we realized one of our porters Hira Singh was missing. Nobody had seen him on the way. All of us got worried because yesterday he was having some problems with the altitude. Our guide Mahendar and one porter went back down in the valley to look for him. It was only after about an hour and half that they came back with Hira Singh. We were all relieved on seeing Hira Singh. Hira Singh was not feeling well and was resting on the boulders when Mahendar found him.
This campsite is at the base of Nanda Ghunti. Nanda Ghunti towered above us as we sat near the creek at this campsite.

The trail till Homkund is also very famous for another reason. Every twelve years there is a procession to Homkund called the “Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra”. It starts from a village called “Nauty” with a 4 horned ram leading the procession. The image of Goddess Nanda Devi is brought to Bedni Bugiyal and following this very trail brought to Homkund where the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati is celebrated. After all the ceremonies are over, the four horned ram disappears in the mountains. Thousands of pilgrims from all the parts of India take part in this yatra. Lots of people walk without any footwear. Homkund is supposed to be very scared place. The next yatra is going to be held in 2012.
Even today also, we met some villages who had come from Sutol to visit Homkund.

We celebrated Sandeep's b'day with Hot Pakoras and Halwa.
It was the coldest night of all the nights on this treks. The small water creek next to our tent was also frozen in the night. The place was again very windy and all our water had frozen. We had another long day tomorrow and had decided to start early at 5 AM. We decided to call it a day.

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