Why Kafni Glacier
- Magnificent views of the Himalayas
- Reaching two massive glaciers
- All-rounder trek
- Varied flora and fauna
- Picture postcard perfect places
In my previous travelogue, I wrote till the point when we reached Phurkia and had lunch.
After that scrumptious lunch, we went out to explore in the evening. We walked a little down from the lodge and soon encountered a long snow bridge (it is an arc formed by snow across a crack in a rock, a creek/river, or some other opening). I could not believe my eyes that something so permanent and solid has formed over the river that it has gathered dust and mud! Also how gushing and forcefully the river was flowing below it. It was a very new thing for me and my mother and we were very positively scared of crossing it.
After we managed to conquer it with small steps, we soon encountered a waterfall. I had to cross that clinging onto Condi for dear life.
The rocks that were there to help cross it were wobbling at every step anyone took. The ice-cold water and the fear of getting washed away surely did enhance the adventure and the risk. Walking just a few more minutes from the waterfall, we found an extremely beautiful bugyal (expanse of grassland) that was surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It felt like any moment Gods might descend from those mountains. Sitting at the bugyal, being embraced by snow-capped mountains, and the rising feeling of getting a glimpse of superior powers sure did make our hearts go crazy with joy and at the same time instilled a strange feeling of calm.
We returned to our lodge before sundown as it would have been difficult to return after dark.
The next day early morning, we all woke up at 3 am and started walking towards Pindari Glacier zero point (12,000 ft) by 4 am, it was a small distance of 5 km but we needed to return the same way that day only and also, we didn’t want to miss the sunrise. The magic of sunrise in the mountains is extremely enchanting. From the first light to the gradual lighting up of the whole world as the day moves on, that’s an experience you don’t want to miss a single time.
Surprisingly we had to go on the same trail that we went on the previous day evening. We again encountered the same snow bridge and the same waterfall but this time we opened our shoes while crossing it because we can’t afford to wet them at that point of time as we still had a long way to go. The ice-cold water definitely cleared whatever sleep was lingering in our eyes.
We continued walking at a medium pace because there was simply so much to see that we needed some time to comprehend the beauty and realness of it all.
Just 1 km before zero point, we stumbled upon a small temple that housed a very old sage. Finding a temple at such a place piqued our interest and we went inside and got talking. The old sage who resided there is originally from South India. Like us, he came here to visit the glacier but fell in love so deeply with the place that he built this small temple and stayed forever. The temple simply consisted of 2-3 rooms (a kitchen, a praying area, and a living room) and a big courtyard. The sage’s journey has not been so smooth in such remote and rough terrain. One time, during winter, this temple along with the sage inside it was buried under snow for 2 months till someone came and rescued him. Despite everything, he feels like he has found heaven on Earth and he had no regrets whatsoever.
Soon we started walking again. The scenery around us was as unbelievable as anything could ever be. The world around was wrapped with small yellow flowers and agarbatti (incense) plants. The whole valley was yellow and smelled like incense sticks. It was a visual treat as well as an olfactory one, there is nothing more a person can ask for.
There were multitude variety of flowers all around too like magnolia, which only grows in high altitude. Pushing our limits and visiting places outside our comfort zone and taking risks really do open our eyes to the vastness of this world and the endless surprises of nature.
We continued walking for quite some time through that thin trail amidst the bugyal. The absence of trees or any plant higher than shrubs or grass is a clear indication of the rising altitude.
The final stretch of trail leading to the zero point was extremely narrow with downward slopes on both sides. We could see moraine area ( moraine is any accumulation of unconsolidated debris, sometimes referred to as glacial till that occurs in both currently and formerly glaciated regions, and that has been previously carried along by a glacier or ice sheet) increasing as we neared the zero point.
Soon we reached the zero point and that meant the end of the trail. No man could possibly venture after this point and it wouldn’t even be safe to do so as moraines are extremely dangerous to walk on as there are many hidden deep crevasses that are not clearly noticeable. Pindari glacier zero point offers a clear view of the glacier and the river originating from it.
On the left, we could see the Pindari glacier in all its might and from there a very thin strip of the river can be seen snaking down. Neither have we seen anything like this before nor did I even expect to see something like that. Just to imagine that this chunk of ice is actually melting and moving at all times and feeding the river is surreal. The wonder of nature in its true sense raveling before naked human eyes.
Apart from the glacier, we were fully surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Seeing such an amazing view with my own eyes was something I still find hard to believe. The glacier was as much beautiful as it was majestic. It felt like God was making up for us missing Kafni glacier. We marveled at the panoramic breathtaking view for around 30 mins before we realized that we needed to head back.
For everyone who wants to visit the glacier should be extremely well equipped for cold and should be aware of the breathing problems, one might face due to the high altitude.
While we were returning, we visited the temple again as it is a kind of a tradition for everyone returning from the glacier to have a cup of tea served by the sage at the temple.
We returned to Phurkia at around 8 am and had our breakfast there. As soon as we finished our breakfast, we left for Dhakuri which was at a distance of 24 km from Phurkia. It was quite a long distance to walk in a single day as we had already walked 10 km since morning but we were determined to cover the distance. With that determination in our hearts, we started walking. Soon we reached Doyeli.
After crossing Doyeli, we found a small tea-shop.We were famished by that time, so we gave some soup packets to the shop owner and asked him to boil them as nothing much was available except tra. Steaming hot soup after walking so many kms was exactly the energy boost that we needed. Refreshed adequately, my mother started walking at a brisk pace only to come face to face with a snake. Condi came to her rescue and shooed it away then only could she move again.
We reached Khati by 3-4 pm and explored the village properly this time as it could not have been possible while we were going up. As we were roaming around the village in a leisurely manner, an old man came running to my mother. He was extremely worried and said in broken Hindi that there is a girl in this village whose period is not stopping and he requested help from my mother. As there is no availability of doctors in that small village, the villagers are often in peril in the face of any illness. We didn’t have any specific medicine for the problem but we had pain killers, so we gave that to the old man so that at least the suffering of the girl is lessened by a little percentage. Soon people from all corners of the village started coming to us in hopes of medicine. It was truly heartbreaking to see such a condition of a beautiful village cradled in the lap of nature simply due to its remoteness.
We were carrying emergency medicines for our trek but as our trek has almost come to an end, we decided to give our whole medicine stock to them. Also, we were lucky enough to not fall in any situation where we needed medicine, so we were able to give them all kinds of off-the-counter medicine that we were carrying. We were also carrying a lot of toffees for our trek, half of that was consumed but whatever packets we had left, we gave them to the little kids. The villagers were overjoyed and grateful for our help. For us, it cost almost nothing but for them, it meant a great deal, in return we got the greatest gift, we got their love and blessings and a bag full of homegrown rajma (red kidney beans). The people there are so devoid of deceit and their love felt so pure, we felt truly blessed and considered our trek a successful one.
We again started walking towards Dhakuri, the last 2 km took our breath away. By evening we reached Dhakuri, absolutely dog tired. The next day early morning, we left Dhakuri for Lower Loharkhet. The walk felt easy by now as we had already walked so many km in a much more difficult situation and condition.
Soon after reaching Lower Loharkhet, it was time to bid goodbye to Condi. I believe that was the most difficult part we had to face during our whole trip. By now he has almost become a part of our family and saying goodbye to him was more heartbreaking than anything. He was the sweetest, best, and most genuine person one can ever meet. We left in the solace of the thought that we would meet again for our next trek cause we were sure that as much as we loved him, he loved us a lot too and would surely accompany us the next time.
We got a jeep to Bageshwar from Lower Loharkhet and stayed overnight there. We spent the next day sight-seeing around Bageshwar. Then the next day morning, we took a bus to Haridwar and from there we had train bookings back to Kolkata, and that marked the end of our wonderful journey.
(Some dates in the photos are mismatched due to some technical failure)
Other posts of the trip: Pindari and Kafni Glacier Trek❮ ❯