The helicopters of phata
|A blasting rain and a lucky shelter|
|The meadow above kedarnath|
Middle of the trek route
Man may drench but not the bike
The nature of inspiration is spontaneous,like disaster.The moment of inspiration to write about the journey which is couple of years old now is comparable to the one which occured to me then, and took 8 days and 200miles before it subsided.So i ventured out from my hometown Haridwar,alongwith my sister's family who was going on a riligious outing to Devprayag.It just happened one morning and i thought to lay my hands on a couple of days of exploration amidst mid-himalayan ranges.so went in the Bike and a small backpack with cycling gear,clothing and only one denim-jacket.
Day - 1. I started at 2p.m once they saw me off with a customary wave of hand and a unmistakeble inquiry in their eyes;why is all this hardship for.?
My destination for that evening was Rudraprayag ,a small town nestled 70Kms away at the confluence of mandakini and alaknanda,subsidiaries of
Ganges. After 3 hours and 36Km's of nonstop peddaling i arrived at Srinagar.Though it was a windy day but sun was still strong enough to dehydrate and weaken the body.I took supplies of Glucose,Vitamin C pills and packaged Juices from srinagar.
The view opened up after
and one can see the undulating road stretching far and beyond with mountains on one side and the gorge on the other. The sun was setting at around 7p.m and i was 20 Km's short of my destination.Exhaustion of mid-day ride and some steep climbs were taking toll on my speed.Time was right to put my newly bought headlight and rearlight on. Awefully hungry at 9pm but 7km's short of the town i stopped at a roadside Dhaba and had a meal that also made-up for the skipped lunch.There i was told about Kedarnath musk deer sanctuary's forest range .This conversation with an amateur guide with his beautiful description of beauty and grandeur , inspired me and crafted the outlines of the 'Trip to be'. willy-nilly i left at 10,dragging myself for a place to stay.It was comfortable and i slept looking out at stars. srinagar
Day 1 in numbers - 66 Km's with an elevation from 610 to 730Mts.
Day -2 . Contrary to my expectations i woke up early and was feeling fine.The initial plan was to start early but that might spent me by 2-3 pm.I had a heavy breakfast and dozed-off.
My previous plan was for some short exploratory rides and treks around rudraprayag,now replaced with a 100Km's of biking till Gaurikund,the base station for foot-trek to kedarnath.It was Mid-noon when i started,crossed rudraprayag towrads Agastyamuni,at an elevation of 1000mts,from thereon the rise will be alongside river mandakini,whose mouth is kedarnath.The ride was slow but pleasant because of less traffic and pristine air.
Any casual talk at any halt necessarily involves a mandatory question on the reason for the painstaking work that i had undertaken.The best of all was from an old man with prying eyes and inquisitive undertone 'why didn't you take a motorbike'?. And the conversation stopped there.
Half of my travel was done after the fireball had turned orange and the traffic had become sparser.I halted at Kund and slept with the thoughts of muskdeer sightings.
Day 2 Summary - Distance travelled 43 Kms from an elevation of 610Mts to 1000Mts.
Day -3 .
It started with a 7km’s steep climb to Guptakashi onwards to Phata,a waystation and the starting range for musk deer sanctuary.Its also the boarding point for Pawanhans helicopters to kedarnath shrine for well-heeled pilgrims.From there till sonprayag,a distance of 16Km’s through an elevation from 1350 to 1850mts,the ride was amidst picturesque valley with thick forests of oak and pine.With sun on horizon ,altitude nearing 2000Mts and serenading roar of gushing current,my mind and body came at a complete rest,it was just me and mountain with no thought to disturb. Sonprayag is a tiny hamlet at the confluence of Basuki and mandakini, the first prominent meeting-place of two galloping streams.
It was 8.30pm,chilly and quiet when I entered the outskirts of Gaurikund.I was greeted by probing eyes of curious onlookers. Old timers told me that they have not seen anyone coming here biking his way except for a Spanish tourist who had come a couple of years back. I got myself and my bike carefully ensconced in the cosy comfort of the minimalist room of the characteristically tourist lodge of a pilgrimage. After the therapeutic bath in the natural hot water of the sulphur-spring I slept wrapped in a quilt in a mid-summer night.
Day 3 In numbers – Total distance of 44Km’s through an Altitude from 950mts to 1982 Mts.
View from the top
The mount Kedar
Day 4 and 5 – It was a bright sunny day. The trek route to kedarnath shrine is stone paved and treacherous, it takes an elevation of 1400Mts in a span of 14Km’s. It passes through the core zone of Kedarnath Musk deer sanctuary,at this altitude only chir and pine grows. The musk deer is a very shy and elusive animal and its sightings are very rare in open. I strolled the tiny hamlet of the pilgrimage town and offered my prayers.The nightstay there was uncomfortable on a windy night of sub-zero temperature .
I got up early next day and trekked 2km’s uphill to the meadows where wild-horse graze and seasonal mountain flowers bloom. Then downhill journey to gaurikund started by late afternoon where the bike was kept. The lodge owner was a jovial man with acute sports knowledge. He was a diehard messi fan and would get up at 3am to watch him in action in the ongoing worldcup. We saw Nadal coming from 2-1 down to a feisty philipp petzschner in the 3rd round of wimbledon.