Chopta Chandrashila trek: Christmas in the snows of Uattarakhand
When going on a trek, one thing is for sure. I know I would be spending some of the best days of my life. The walk in the mountains, knowing new people, breathtaking views, sitting around the fire and warming the hands, to getting up in the wee hours of the night and leaving early to catch a sunrise, a trek is all this and so much more. Today I leave for the Chopta Chandashila trek, my second in Uttarakhand, with the group Trek the Himalayas. Here are things I am really looking forward to in this one.
- The extreme cold and snow: After having to spend 9 months in kind of hot and sultry weather, winters are welcome, but then Kolkata winters are moderate. What better way to experience very cold temperatures and some snow? Temperatures will be low in Delhi and Haridwar, in Chopta it will be touching zero, while at Tunganath it will be several degrees below that. At least a chance to wear all my woollens, the fleeces, the down jacket and the balaclavas. I can imagine all the times I need to pull myself out of my sleeping bag early in the morning and then starting my day after rolling a steaming cup of tea in my hands and letting the hot liquid warm me up. Really looking forward to it!
- Deorital camp: Himalayan treks offer myriad spectacular views and this one is not going to be any different. Our first halt will be at Deorital lake. At7,841 feet the lake is surrounded by forests all around and the legend is that that this lake was created when Bhim to quench his thirst. The grand Chaukhamba massif reflected in waters of the lake, I have heard, offers a stunning view. And when the rays of the sun catch the massive pillars, it is sure a mesmerising sight!
- The Chopta circuit: We will spend a day a Chopta, which at 8,790 ft, is one of the most picturesque villages in the Himalayas. This day we explore the woods and we can expect to catch glimpses of musk deer and barking deer. And of course, if we are lucky we may even get to see the beautiful Himalayan Monal, the state bird of Himahcal which has a plumage that consists of bright blue and emerald feathers. Plus there is a picnic in the woods on the cards too.
- The big day: On the last day of the trek we leave early with the plan of catching sunrise from the Tunganath top. There is a concrete path from Chopta to the temple. On the way we have steep climbs, sharp turns, and lot of shrines and meadows. After the 10th bend, we get to see a stunning view of Chandrashila ahead, and this being winter we can expect to find snow from here. The 11th bend takes you to Tunganath and beyond that is Chandrashila peak , in all its glory standing 12,083 ft tall. After this the climb gets slightly tough as there is thick snow and one would need use crampons and gaiters. The trek leader pitches in here and creates a path through the soft snow with an ice axe. But at the end of the tough climb lies the reward- a 360 view of the Garhwal and Kumaon mountain with some of the tallest and most magnificent peaks in the world, some of which are Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti, Dronagiri, Thrishul and Chaukhamba. This will be the high point of the trek both literally and figuratively
Am so excited and could have gone on for a lot more, but have to do last minute packing and head for the station and then take the train to Delhi and then Hardiwar from where our trek starts. Once am back, will have lots of more stories to tell about the trek and my experiences. And a lot of photos to share!
( Inputs from Trek The Himalayas website)
( Pictures sourced from the Internet)