I think its about time I blogged about my trip because certain people have been bugging me about it. It took so long because I brought back an unwanted guest with me from the trip – Some sort of stomach virus.
We (Me, Dad and Mom) left for Gangotri on the 29th at 6 am and drove 526 km to Gangotri. The last 300 something kilometers were in the hills so it took us a little over 14 hours to make the journey. We got there a little after 8pm and it was a bit chilly over there so we quickly walked to the guest house (I don’t really remember the name but it was a facility run by the Gadhwal Government). While talking to the manager at the place we found out that since last year a restriction has been put on travel to Gaumukh and now only 150 people per day are allowed to make the trip. Another wrinkle was that in addition to the 150 people limit the forest department has also set the limit on the no of horses allowed up to the glacier to 15.
Since we didn’t have permission we had to wait for the Forest department to open at 8am the next day before we could leave for the glacier. If that hadn’t been the case we would have left at around 6am. We spent that extra two hours visiting the famous temple and having breakfast.
Thankfully we got the permission to visit Gaumukh quite easily but unfortunately by that time the permitted no of horses had already left. So we had to convince the person incharge to allow 3 extra horses to make the trip (No there was no bribe involved. Just told them about our time constraint etc). Initially it was planned that mom and dad would take horses but I would walk but since its quite boring to walk alone and I had no intention of walking 14 kms alone I also got to ride up on a horse.
The journey to the actual Gaumukh is a total of 18 kms but horses are only allowed till the first 14 kms and the last 4 kilometers have to be covered on foot.
It took us about 5 hours to make the 14 km journey by horse and the view was amazing for most of the way. Towards the end though the greenery (trees) was replaced by shrubs and then plain rocks and dirt because we were over the snowline. By the time we got to Bhojwassa it was about 2 pm and my backside was no longer on speaking terms with me. We stopped over there for the night. Initially we had thought that we would make the remaining 4km trek to Gaumukh the same day but then decided to wait for the next day to permit our bodies to acclimatize to the high altitude. (This was at 3792 mts elevation)
Unfortunately mom got a mild case of Acute mountain sickness so we decided that she wouldn’t make the last 4 km walk. So it was just dad and me at 5:30 am the next day when we left for the Glacier (which is at 4463 mtrs elevation) . The trek wasn’t that bad. Infact the hardest part was the first 500 mtrs because it was a pretty steep climb. After that the climbs and descents were quite manageable. It took us 1 1/2 hours to make it to the official termination of the path which is about 500 mtrs from the mouth of the glacier. Since everyone else was continuing the trek to get to the actual mouth of the glacier we also did the same and ended up climbing pretty much to the mouth of the glacier. This last 500 mtrs took us another 1/2 hour since there was no track anymore and we had to climb over boulders and then slide down to get to the glacier.
At this point the temperature was way below freezing and the wind chill made things even more fun. It was so cold that in the time it took me to take 3 photos my fingers were numb enough that I couldn’t make changes to my camera settings anymore. But it was worth it. Because of the cold we only stayed there for about 10-15 mins before heading back. By this time the sun had come out so it wasn’t that cold anymore. In fact by the time we reached base camp I was sweating enough to remove my sweater.
After we got back we rested for about 2 hours and had breakfast and then hired horses to take us back. The ride back was more endured than enjoyed because by that time pretty much most of my body parts had gone on strike. If you think that you don’t get tired when riding a horse I suggest you go ride one for 4-5 hours and then come back and talk to me.
The trail between Gangotri and Bhojwassa is quite steep and there were a lot of places where my body was at an angle of almost 45 degrees from perpendicular to keep my balance on the horse. (You are supposed to lean back if your horse is descending a slope to allow it to maintain its balance).
Once we got back to Gangotri we picked up our luggage from the locker and started driving back towards Uttarkashi. It took us a bit over 5 hours to get there and we all crashed quite quickly once we got to the hotel. The next day we left the hotel at 7:30 am and drove back to Delhi with a small detour to visit my cousin on the way.
I did take a lot of pictures and I will be posting some of them on Facebook (I am still considering the changes to the photogallery over here) once I publish this post.
Well this is all for now. Will post more later.
Edit: Posted the pics Here