The next day morning, my mother woke up with a fever from getting totally drenched the previous day. Everyone’s health was a little on the bad side, so we started late, at 8:30 a.m., after having aloo paratha for breakfast. The only good news was that the trail to Khati was totally downhill. It was an 8 km walk from Dhakuri to Khati and it took us approx. 2 hrs. For the first 2 km, we walked downhill through a thick foresty area but as we neared Khati village, the forest lessened and the trail became level. The walk was breezy and nice with natural beauty and snow-capped mountains surrounding us. At every turn, the view changed into a more magnificent one.
The only downside was the jagged stone trail, our feet hurt like hell. My father said that this route will get tougher while returning. Khati and Dwali are basically the midpoints between Dhakuri and Furkia (the last point of accommodation before the zero point of Pinadari glacier). We reached Khati by 10:30 a.m. Khati (7,250 ft) is the biggest village in this whole trek and also the last inhabited village on this route. After this village, one can only find KMVN guest houses for food and lodging along the route. It was pre-decided that we would stay overnight at Khati. So, we settled down in a small eatery whose owner had a homestay to live in. There we drank tea and soup while my father went to see the homestay.
After he returned, he kept asking the guide about how far Dwali is from there as he did not want to stay overnight at Khati. He decided this at the last moment maybe because he didn’t like the place due to its lack of view or maybe he didn’t like it in general. Condi informed us that Dwali is still 13 km away from Khati. Upon hearing this, my mother was quite bent on not walking any further but she was persuaded and convinced at last. We ate Maggie and again started walking by 11:30 a.m. The trail to Dwali was different than what we saw earlier, mainly because of the fact that not many people needed to go any further from Khati as there are no villages up ahead. It was a thin trail through a very thick and bushy forest with a cacophony of birdsong enveloping us.
At times we could even see the Pindar Ganga river flowing from our trail. As picturesque as the walk was, we needed to walk steadily on that uphill path to reach Dwali before sundown and also keep a lookout for snakes. Also, we could not sit anywhere on the trail to take a few minutes of rest as it was extremely bushy and there can be a number of insects and mainly snakes in those bushes. We even saw a snake on the trail while walking, it was quite long and its body was sand color and our guide said that it was poisonous, so it is quite natural for us to be afraid of it the whole time and be extra careful. We could see the KMVN bungalow at Dwali from across the river while still being 500 m away from the place. As we neared the bridge that we needed to cross to finally reach Dwali, we had to traverse a waterfall that was falling directly on the trail. It was falling from a lot up above but it was very thin, 2 ft in breadth. We crossed it quite happily but Condi was extremely worried. He said that if it rains, this waterfall will become thick and extremely forceful, effectively cutting Dwali from the rest of the world as it would be impossible to cross it and this is the only route to reach Dwali. At that time, we were least bothered about it as had been walking for almost 22 km and all we could think of was a place to sleep. Soon we crossed the big, wooden, beautiful bridge and reached Dwali. If we had the energy, we would have done a little victory dance.
Dwali (8,500 ft) is situated at quite a height but we could see the confluence of Kafni river (from Kafni glacier) and Pindar Ganga river (from Pindari glacier). Kafni river is a tributary of Pindar Ganga river and Pindar Ganga river is a tributary of Alakananda river which is eventually one of the two headstreams of the Ganges. The KMVN bungalow at Dwali is placed at a corner, overlooking the confluence of the rivers but unfortunately, it was fully booked. It was the only place of accommodation and it was already 5:30 p.m., so it was impossible to walk any further. We were in a total mess. We requested the caretaker to give us any spare room that was available. After seeing our plight, the caretaker gave us an old kitchen, which was used by a staff a long time back. It was a single small filthy room with walls covered with black stains. We were thankful for even that and somehow slept through the night with 3 people on the same bed. The next morning, we had initially planned on going to Pindari glacier, hence Phurkia but in the evening we reached Dwali, we met some researchers from the Zoological Survey of India. They were the ones who told us all about the Kafni glacier. Before that, we didn’t have much idea about it as Google was not really in use during that time so we didn’t have any source to know. We got the whole detail of Kafni glacier from them and decided to embark on Kafni glacier the next day rather than Pindari glacier. We had a lot of extra days on our hands as we had booked our train tickets at a much later date to enjoy the flexibility of schedule in case we run into any sort of mishap. We were much happy as we would be visiting two glaciers on the same trek.
The next day morning, we left for Khatia, which was at a distance of 7 km, from there we need to go another 5 km more to reach the glacier. The last point of accommodation is at Khatia, so we decided to stay at Khatia. We started walking towards Khatia at around 8 a.m. The walk started out to be extremely nice and pleasant with wonderful views.
Kafni river flows beside the trail, a young river, just coming down from the glacier. It was very thin but rough and tough and lively just like a small kid. The river joyfully gurgled down beside the trail.
At times, we even got the feeling that we might fall off into the river any moment, and also we had to go down and walk on water for quite a stretch.
As the trail was so near the river, it gets eroded every day and that’s the reason the trail keeps going up and down and even into the river many times.
We soon encountered the boulder section part of the trail. It would be a deal-breaker for many trekkers as one would require tough durable shoes and also, the tough mentality to cross that section. It was bad as anything could ever be with a barren landscape and huge loose rocks along with the fear of falling rocks as it is a landslide zone.
As we neared Khatia, the weather started to get real bad. On the way, we again met those researchers, they had left early morning from Dwali and are now returning to Dwali after visiting Kafni glacier. They did not intend on staying overnight at Khatia, like us. They told us that they cannot possibly describe the beauty of the Kafni glacier in words, it was nothing like they have ever seen before. The endpoint or the snout point of the glacier is surrounded by heavenly snow peaks like Nanda Kot, Nanda Devi, Nanda Khat, Lapsa Dhura, Mrigthuni, Maiktoli, and many more. It would almost feel like we are sitting on the laps and getting hugged at the same time by these great mountains. They kept telling us to visit the glacier for sure. It started raining by the time we reached Khatia, which was around 12:30 p.m. Given the fact that we needed to walk 10 km, to and fro, to visit the glacier and also keeping in mind the weather condition, we decided to visit the glacier the next day as we were in no great hurry and we can also explore leisurely. There was a big trekker’s hut at Khatia. It was a wooden structure, consisting of just one big hall with used blankets strewn all around. Thankfully it was empty. We settled down there and had khichri for lunch. It kept raining non-stop and it became more and more cloudy with visibility near to zero, we were confined to our hall for the rest of the evening. We waited patiently for the next day to come with some good news and weather but the scenario and the news that greeted us was quite the opposite.