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A Trek to Pindari & Kafni Glacier - Part II

Sacred Rivers, Serene Mountains & Sheer Bliss - Trekking in Absolute Solitude through Mountain Forests & Snow-clad Himalayas in the scenic Indian state of Uttarakhand...

overcast 6 °C

After our sweet success to Pindari Glacier our destination next was the Kafni Glacier. We started back from Phurkiya to Dwali and from Dwali diverted leftwards following the Kafni river towards Khatia and finally making it to Kafni Glacier the next day.

Day 7

Distance Trekked : 12 kms
Trek Route: Purkhia-Dwali-Khatia

We had a long day ahead today. Our target was to trek back 5 kms returning to Dwali and thereafter from Dwali, following the Kafni trail, try trekking 7 kms upto Khatia. The drizzle outside that morning however made us a bit worried. Freshening up we had stuffed parathas for breakfast in the KMVN kitchen and started off at 8.30 am. As the way back was mostly downhill it was a comfortable trek contrary to the exhaustion we felt while approaching Purkhia.

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Starting Off from Phurkia

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Landscape so Lush

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Landslide on the Way

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Serene Trail

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Crossing Frozen Stream

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Serpentine Trail over Lush Meadows

The drizzle continued as we gradually passed by the same serene landscape that we had passed by two days earlier. The maple trees, the green ferns, and the thick vegetation of the lush forest accompanied us till we reached Dwali at 10.30 am. We rested outside the Sangam tea-house shack and had some refreshing black coffee and biscuits.

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Finally Dwali

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Coffee Break

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Company

Our initial plan was to stay over the night at Dwali and carry on the following day directly to Kafni. But I suggested that since it was a bit early and the weather too was getting so unpredictable, we continue trekking till Khatia, another 7 kms ahead.

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Entering the Kafni Trail

We started out from Dwali at 11 am. Getting down from the steep cliff where sleepy Dwali is strategically situated, we took the trail going left alongside the Kafni river. For sometime we could feel some welcoming bleak sunrays penetrating through the overall overcast sky. Half-an-hour trek into this trail we realized this was a far open trail and more scenic than the Pindari trail.

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Kafni Flowing By Swiftly

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Maple Tree Standing Out

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Snake or a Plant

However, the trail path was very narrow and one wrong step or a slip would be fatal - the gorge below was a straight drop till the Kafni river. The climb surely was steep as we kept halting occasionally to rest as well as to soak in the awesome views.

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Walking Along

By now our legs were getting used to following a rhythm and Mitali too was trekking comfortably. Up ahead we could see snow-clad mountain beyond the opening of the serpentine river valley. After about an hour into our trek, it started drizzling again. But the drizzle soon turned into a heavy downpour. Our jackets and trek suits were getting soaked and we had to seek cover.

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Shelter from the Pouring Rains

Luckily, we found an over-hanging rocky ledge in the midst of the trail and barely managed to lean ourselves in. It continued pouring as we squatted for the rains it to subside. As the downpour was slowly subsiding we heard some voices in the opposite direction and soon we saw a couple of porters coming down-hill braving the rains. They were being followed by an elderly couple from Bangalore, returning from their maiden Kafni trek.

We chatted with them and the news they provided was not at all encouraging. They had been to Kafni that morning and visibility was not that great but somehow they were lucky enough to see the glacier.

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Mineral Water - Aqua Pure

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Scenic Trail amidst Lush Forest

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Simply Serene

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All Smiles

After sometime the rain stopped and we too stepped out to resume our trek. Mitali was gorging all the ripe wild strawberry possible that were literally growing almost all through the trail. They were smaller in size than the regular ones but were very sweet indeed.

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Handful of ripe Strawberry

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Green Meadows, Snow Capped Mountains

I physically was not feeling great. The height of these places and the long treks each day were perhaps taking its toll. I was feeling low in energy. Gorged in some chocolates to give me some extra boost and continued ahead. Finally, by 2.30 pm were could see ahead of us our shelter for the night.

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Shelter for the Night

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Khatia at Last

Seeing the two small blocks of the Khatia Gram Panchayat Guest houses at a distance gave us the impetus to trudge through the last few meters in full gusto. We realized that after each long day's trek through this wilderness, it was always so very welcoming to see from a distance the accomodation for the night. It was again a basic shelter with one block serving as the kitchen and porter's quarters, and the other block had two rooms with lines of beds with heavy quilts. The good thing I noticed was a cozy fire place in our allotted room. Views from the room itself was amazing.

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Room with a View

It was quite cold and Pradip Singh, the caretaker-cum-cook welcomed us with a hot cup of black coffee. I requested, Pradip to cook us some hot khichidi and egg omelets. To our delight he lighted the fireplace and having our lunch we rested.

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Amazing Views

Early evening I took a short stroll outside. Khatia again is another scenic and serene place with majestic views of snow-clad mountains and open meadows. The clouds were casting a thin veil over the evening sky playing hide and seek with the rising half moon. As it was getting very windy, I too soon returned back to the room and sat by the fireplace.

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By the Warm Fire

Dinner was served at 8 pm but I had no appetite at all. I just managed a spoonful of rice and dal and few bites of fried Sardine, which I had given Pradip to cook. Post dinner, I sat alone in front of the fireplace while Mitali retired to bed. With the last piece of wood burning away, I too retired to bed contemplating what was in store for tomorrow since it was the final leg of our trek as we would attempt to trek to the mouth of the Kafni Glacier.

Day 8

Distance Trekked : 14 kms
Trek Route: Khatia-Walliagar-Kafni Glacier-Khatia

Pradip woke us up early at 4 am with a hot cup of tea. We quickly freshened up and having some hot noodles we set off at 4.45 am towards the Kafni Glacier. The weather was gloomy, cold and windy. It was still dark as the first light of dawn was breaking through. Thin clouds brushed across our faces as we started following the trail across many open lush meadows.

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Dawn Breaking Through

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Soaking in

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Walking Through the Clouds

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Shepherd Guard Dog in Company

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Misty Surroundings

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Walk a Mile, Pose a While

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Grassland in an Alien World

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Awesome

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Touches the Soul

Half-an-hour into the trek, thick clouds rushed in and it was a total white-out. We could not see beyond a few meters. The climb was surely exhaustive but it did not dither our spirit. We kept surging through the steep trail with the hope that the weather would clear enabling us a clear view of the glacier. By 7.30 we reached Walliagar. We have covered almost 4 kms. Here we rested for about 30 minutes. Debu, a devout religious man, lighted a few incense sticks and offering a few fruits, we prayed to the mother for a safe trek and a divine darshan of the glacier.

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Prayer Flag at Walliagarh

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Debu sitting at Walliagarh

Thereafter, the trek through the lovely green meadows was truly enchanting. All around us were miles upon miles of open meadows with yellowish-green grass bushes. Herds of sheep and alpine goats with tingling bells around their neck were seen grazing around the meadows as a few shepherds were humming in a few local tunes.

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All in a Line

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Enchanting Meadows

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Nature's Art

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So very Pretty

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Heavenly

We wondered how beautiful it would have been had the cloud covering not been there. By 8.30 am as we were approaching the final leg, Mitali started giving up. I persistently tried to persuade her to continue the last couple of kilometer - we were almost there but she refused to budge. Failing to persuade her I continued...

Debu was already ahead of me. Low visibility was making it difficult for me to follow the trail properly. As one moment I felt I had taken a wrong turn and was feeling totally disoriented and lost. I gave some shouts to Debu but failed get any response back. He must have been far ahead. It was an eerily silence all around, with just the sound of the whistling wind. Making my determination stronger I tried to orient myself and continued ahead.

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Crossing a huge Snow Patch

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Misty Views

Soon, to my relief I discovered the trail again marked by some stones, and kept following it steadfastly. Suddenly, up ahead through the misty landscape, at a bend after a steep climb, I could see Debu's ice axe fixed upright atop a rock. But Debu himself does not seem to be around. Going a little further up I saw Debu, curling himself up at a small space between two rocks, was in deep prayers.

As if Debu's prayers were working, the clouds were slowly moving away what I saw in front of me gave me shiver down my spine - the entire white upper portion of the Kafni Glacier, just in fornt of me. Words are failing to describe how I felt at that moment. I just kept gazing the glacier in silence. It truly was a feeling which I would not be able to describe in words.

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Partially visible Kafni Glacier - Debu's prayers seem to be working

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Kafni Glacier - the 1st View- the clouds magically moved away - felt the divine hand at work

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Black & White - sheer out the world experience

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A photo to Treasure

After some moments, Debu broke his silence and I suggested we walk up to the mouth of the glacier, a distance of another half a kilometer. This last part of the trek was very tricky and treacherous. We had to cross over a huge slippery snow patch and thereafter balance our way through a sea of loose boulders and rocks. One wrong footing and you would fall causing injuries.

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Mistful Snowful

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Amidst all Snow

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Mouth of Kafni Glacier, underneath the moraine - Black Ice

Carefully, we treaded along till we were reached the lower mouth of the glacier. The Kafni river can be clearly seen originating beneath the huge moraine of black ice. From the left side of the glacier loose rocks were falling down continuously. The glacier moaned and cracked making us feel that we were in front of something living. The misty condition at the mouth of the glacier made us somber.

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Inside the Mouth of Kafni Glacier

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Kafni River - originating from within the Glacier

To Debu's surprise, I quickly started taking off my cloths as I felt an inner desire from within to take a holy dip here. It was 8.30 am. Braving the cold I just got down the big rock where we were sitting, entering the icy waters. I dipped myself into the icy waters closing my breath and prayed; thanking the Mother with my folded hands seeking her blessings.

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After that Holy Bath

Strangely though I did not feel any cold as I came out of the water and wept myself dry with my hand towel. I felt truly fulfilled - a feeling I have not experienced ever before in my life. Putting along my attire, we celebrated by sharing a bar of chocolate that I was carrying in my backpack. Thereafter, we both sat down for about another 30 minutes soaking in thoroughly till reluctantly we had to make our way backwards.

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Raw Nature - another shot of the majestic Glacier

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Passing by the Snow Patch again

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Shrine of the Stones

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Blooming - life in the high Himalayas

The trek back to Khatia was relaxing but soon thick clouds came in and it was again a total white-out. We passed by Wallaigar and saw the site where Kumoan Mandal Vikas Nigam (Tourism Wing of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand ) is proposed to construct a fiber glass guest house soon. The foundation has already been completed. We thought next time if we happen to come by to Kafni, we would be able to come directly from Dwali to Walliagar. We crossed by many a herds of sheep in their thousands making a bee-line to the rich meadows.

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Amidst the herd of sheep

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Absorbing the Serenity

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Trekking Back to Khatia

It again started drizzling and by 11.30 we reached back Khatia. We just chilled out at Khiatia the whole day, and in the evening sitting by the fireplace, celebrated our successful Pindari & Kafni Glacier wilderness trek with Debu by toasting some rum till dinner of egg curry and chapati was served by Pradip.

Day 9

Distance Trekked : 18 kms
Trek Route: Khatia-Dwali-Malla Dhur-Khati

It was again a long day ahead. Pradip woke us up early at 5 am. After freshening up we had some hot noodles and we started off at 6.30 am. The weather had cleared and it was a sunny day with clear views.

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Sunny Day Ahead

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Breakfast of hot noodles, also seen Debu and Pradip

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Moving Out from Khatia

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Trekking by the Kafni river

Our intent was to reach Dwali from Khatia and thereafter continue to Khati village - a total trek of 18 kms. We walked past the the scenic trail and soaked ourselves thoroughly.

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Soaking in the Serenity

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Water of Life

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Utterly Scenic

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Cute flowers in Bloom

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The Walk Continues

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Sheeps in the hundreds

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Majestic horns

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Ready for a Fight

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Shepherd and his Dogs

On the trail we came across many a herd of sheep making their way uphill to the lush meadows of Kafni. These herds are accompanied by a couple shepherd along with a few guard dogs. They skillfully guided them by whistling along. As it was a very narrow trail each time a herd od sheep approached we had to give way for them to cross safely. By 8.45 am we reached Dwali where we rested a while sipping some hot coffee and cookies.

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Bridge at Dwali

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Holy Confluence - Kafni & Pindari joining at Dwali

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Trail from Dwali

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Magic Mushrooms

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Pindari Flows Along

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Mushrooms Bloom

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Reaching Malla Dhaur Bridge

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Bridge over the Pindari

Thereafter we again trekked through by the lush serene forest. Trekking down-hill it is now we realized how much we had climbed. By 11.30 am we reached Malla Dhaur and rested our tired legs at the lone tea house. We interacted with the shack owner who informed us to our amazement that he has been running this tea house since the past 30 years.

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Postcard Perfect

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Sipping some coffee at Malladhaur

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Tea Shack Owner at Malla Dhaur

By 12.30 pm we started off the last leg towards Khati. The long day's tiring trek was draining us out totally.

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Carefull Steps

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Walk on a High - entering Khati, passing by huge Marijuana Plantation growing wild

Finally by 2.30 pm after trekking 18 kms we reached Khati village and straightaway headed to Debu's house and made a call back home from his WLL phone that we have successfully completed the Pindari & Kafni trek safely.

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Thats Khati Village

Thereafter, we trekked another half a kilometer to the check ourselves at the Sangam Tourist Cottage, situated at the outskirts of Khati village.

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Finally at Sangam Cottage

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Tired Legs after completing 18 kms

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Sangam Cottage at Khati

The sunny weather till then gradually turned gloomy and it started pouring. We rested and in late evening sweet Khilaf brought us some home cooked lamb curry which we gorged with some hot khichidi for dinner. Satisfied, we retired early accompanied by the sound of the falling rain over Sangam Cottage's tin roof.

Day 10

Distance Trekked : 12 kms
Trek Route: Khati-Kalwatati Top- Patlakhod-Supi-Talai

Diatance Travelled :
Route : Talai-Barari-Bageshwar

It was pouring hard as Debu and Khilaf reached the Sangam guest house around 8 am. We discussed with Debu whether we can get back via Kurkia but the news he shared was not so good. Continuous rains in the past week resulted in the jeeps stopped plying from Khurkia. We had two option, either we climb up to Dhakuri and thereafter move to Loherkhet or on Debu's suggestion we decided to take another local route not usually done by trekkers. This route we had to climb up over 4 kms to Kalwatati top and get down to Supi village and Talai via Patlakhod. Having some aloo parathas and egg omlate we started off at 9 am once the rains stopped.

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Starting Off from Khati Village

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Interaction on Way

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Mushrooms in full Bloom

Moving out of Khati village we took a trail southwards moving through a thick Pine forest. It sutely was a very steep climb and it completed exhausted us to the hilt. But the trail was very scenic and once we reached the Kalwatati Top, we were rewarded by some amazing views. However the cloud cover somewhat restricted the views. Bowing our head at the shrine at Kalwatai Top and resting for sometime we continued ahead.

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Trekking through a lush Pine Forest

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Kalwatati Top

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Shrine at Kalwatati Top

Thereafter we moved through some luch meadows till we reached Patlakhod, where some habitation existed in the form of shepherd huts. Resting awhile there we moved down through some trecherous tarrain and finally we could see the cute Supi village out in the horizon. Continuous walking was undoubetedly taking it toll but it truely was a rewarding exerience.

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Meadows of Patlakhod

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Resting a While

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Hardy Mountain People

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Trekking for Livelihood not Pleasure

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Following the Trecherous yet serene Trail Downhill

Entering Supi village, we were taken to a local Kumaoni home and we felt very welcoming by the host of the house. The sweet lady of the house treated us to a very tasty organic Kumaoni lunch. She informed that they do not buy anything from outside, they cultivate everything in-house in their land right from rice to wheat, from vegetable to dals.

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Supi Village comes to View

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Finally, some paved path, as we approched Supi

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Entered Supi Village

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Houseful of Hospitality

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Lady of the House - so caring, she reminded me of sweet Mom

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Feeding us with Care

Satisfied with that lovely Kumaoni hospitability, we bid them farewell and moved down about half a kilometer to reach Talai around 3 pm. Reaching there we realized that there were no shared jeeps to take us to Barari. Luckly we found one jeep but the driver would not budge to take us unless we paid Rs 1000.

We desperately wanted to reach Bageswar and if possible move out to Ranikhet. So, we decided to hire the full jeep and moved off. Moved through the gravel road and we nearly got stuck two three times. Reaching Barari we changed the jeep and reached Bageshwar by 5.30 pm. As it got late, we decided to stay back at Bageshwar for the night and carry on to Ranikhet the next day.

We celebrated that evening at Bageshwar and thanking Debu, we toasted to the enchanting trek to the Pindari & Kafni Glacier, promising ourselves to be back next time for the more challenging Sundardunga Trek.

Best Time to Trek
The optimal timing is between May 1st and June 30th and between September 1st and October 15th.
Both seasons has its own beauty.

How to Reach
One has to reach Bageshwar in Uttarakhand, which is about 200 kms from the Haldwani/Kathgodam Railway Station, the last rail head of the Kumaon region. From Bageshwar drive till Loharkhet from where the trek starts. But as the road is being extended, one can drive till Kurkia to start the trek 4 kms before Khati village, avoiding trekking via Dhakuri, saving one full day. Bageshwar-Kurkia would be around 50 kms.

Where to Stay
In the entire route there are no hotels after Bageshwar. At Loherkhet, Dhakuri Dwali and Purkhia, basic PWD Guest Houses & KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) Tourist Huts are located. At Khatia in the Kafni trail, a lone Gram Panchayat Guest House can be used. Accommodation charges are very cheap and booking can be done from Bageshwar/Loherkhet KMVN Tourist Guest House. Also, tents and sleeping bags can be hired by those seeking to camp under the open sky.

Posted by sabyasachi 09:06 Archived in India Tagged kafni_trek trek_to_kafni pindari_kafni_trek khatia_kafni dwali_khatia trek_to_kafni_glacier trekking_ to_kafni trekking_to_ pindari_kafni_glacier Comments (24)

A Trek to Pindari Glacier & Kafni Glacier - Part I

Sacred Rivers, Serene Mountains & Sheer Bliss - Trekking in Absolute Solitude through Mountain Forests & Snow-clad Himalayas

overcast 12 °C

Imagine a tranquil paradise - serene, grandeur and breathtakingly scenic. Soaring snow-clad peaks playing hide-and-seek with each passing clouds, gushing streams, cascading waterfalls, colorful butterflies, chirping birds, green meadows, turquoise-blue waters of the sacred Pindari & Kafni rivers were all part of my imagination. It was as if I could smell in the aromas and soak in the captivating views, as I was researching this trek.

True to my imagination, I can now recall with satisfaction, the amount of enquiry, browsing, interaction and contemplation, were worth all its effort, as we prepared ourselves for this unique approximately 90 km, 8 days long (June 5 till June 12th, 2011), Pindari & Kafni Glacier wilderness trek - to witness Mother Nature's exquisite artworks, painted out beautifully in the broad canvas of the Holy Himalayas.

Our guide-cum-porter, 42-years-old Devendra Singh, better known as Debu, was an avid trekker himself, having a rich trekking experience of 26 years. With Debu's in-depth knowledge of various trek & trails all around the Kumaon and Garhwal Himalayas, with an ever-lively spirit, we felt totally secured in his company. His sleepy village Khati - the last habitation en-route - is about 50 kms from the temple town of Bageswar, situated in the enchanting Kumaon Himalayas of the beautiful Indian state of Uttaranchal.

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A Long Way Up
Picture of the Pindari, Kafni Trekking Route Map

Day 1 & Day 2

Distance Travelled : 1750 kms
Route: Mumbai-New Delhi-Lal Kuan

Winding up a hectic day at work, both Mitali and myself, boarded the Special Rajdhani Express that fateful Friday evening from Mumbai Central Station. Chugging though the night and the entire next day, we reached the New Delhi Railway Station at 6.10 pm. Our connecting train to Kathgodam - the last railhead of Uttaranchal - was at 10.40 pm from the Old Delhi Railway Station.

We got out of the station and made our way to Old Delhi Railway Station. Finally we reached the station at 8 pm. But our worries were yet to be over. The status of our 1st Class AC tickets in the Ranikhet Express was still showing Waiting List 1 & 2.

We just hoped that it would get confirmed. On checking the status again at the enquiry counter, discovered that one of our tickets got confirmed while the other one was still in Waiting List 1. The final ticket chart had been prepared and our only hope was to convince the Railway Ticket Checker. After some anxious moments, the Ticket Checker obliged to our relief that we both would be accommodated.

Day 3

Distance Travelled by Vehicle: 250 kms
Route: Lal Kuan-Kathgodam-Bhimtal-Bhowali-Almora-Bagesawar-Barari-Loherkhet-Chaurasta-Rethi-Karmi-Dhur-Kurkia-DauVillage

Distance Trekked : 3 kms
Trek Route: Kurkia-Dau Village

Chugging through the night in the luxurious 1st Class AC coup, we reached Lal Kuan at 5.10 am - the penultimate station before Kathgodam. As we were making our way outside the station, we were greeted by a person inquiring where we were heading. Answered him that we were on our way to Bageswar and we plan to take a share taxi. To our utter delight he informed that he is taking some people in his Trevera vehicle beyond Bageswar and has 2 unoccupied seats.

He agreed to drop us at Bageswar. We thought it was an auspicious beginning to start with and by noon we would be at Bageswar. Soon, we passed by the plains of Haldwani and Kathgodam. We had a quick bite en-route at Kainchi and made our way uphill via Bhimtal, Bhowali and finally Almora. The winding road as we soared up was very welcoming as we could feel the fresh mountain breeze across our faces.

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Mountain Roads - Here we come again

As decided upon earlier, we boarded down at Siddharth Hotel in Bageswar at 12.10 pm to be greeted by smiling Debu. He had kept a room ready for us to freshen up as I discussed the finer trek details and handed over 50% advance of our agreed amount, enabling him purchases the necessary rations for our 8 days trek.

Debu informed us that we would be able to by-pass the traditional trek route to Dhakuri-Khati via Loherkhet, saving us 1 day since we could drive directly till Kurkia, which is 4 kms before the Khati village, from where the trek would start. Additionally, it would also save us from trekking 11 kms uphill till Dhakuri via Dhakuri Top and 8 kms downhill till Khati.

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Serpentine Path
We moved ahead through the serpentine dirt road

By 1 pm we were all set to move out. We boarded a Max Jeep that Debu had hired and made our way to Kurkia, the last road head. We reached Barari at 3 pm, the last small town en-route, where we had a quick lunch of rice and chicken.

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Pathetic Driveway

From Barari onwards, the road condition was sheer pathetic. The single track winding gravel road was full of mud and slush and we had to get down and give our jeep a push on 4 occasions as it got stuck badly.

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Men, Machine and Slush

Monsoon was yet to set in but the pre-monsoon showers have already done enough damage. Later, we were informed that we were the last to make it to Kurkia. After that day jeeps stopped plying on this route as the weather turned worse.

We passed by the hamlets of Loherkhet, Chaurasta, Rethi, Karmi and Dhur. Finally, by 5.20 pm we reached Kurkia.

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The 1st Snow View
The 1st snow-clad mountains appears ahead of us neutralizing all pains of the long journey till then

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Nature Nurtures
A lone innocent child in the back drop of mesmerizing views

At Kurkia, we were warmly greeted by Khilaf, Debu's 21-years-old son and out trek soon started after a hot cup of tea. Our destination was Khati village - a trek of 4 kms. But Debu suggested that instead of staying the night at Khati, we stay at Dau village, 1 km before Khati, from where we would get an amazing view of the Maiktoli peak.

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The Trek Commences...
From Kurkia our trek to Pindari & Kafni commenced, seen in the picture is Khilaf guiding me through

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Walking Along
Mitali trekking along Khilaf as we made our way to Dau Village

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Looking Back, Going Forward

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Smoke in the Mountains
Smoke seen rising through the layers upon layers of terraced fields

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Stone Path, Lone path
In the fading light of dusk we walked through the lone stone path with mesmerizing views in the horizon

We followed a narrow trail and trekked for 3 kms through lush vegetation to reach the sleepy village of Dau. We were thrilled to see clear views of the Maiktoli along with the other snow-clad Himalayas. We checked ourselves in the lone village guest house dead tired. A hot bath soothed us both.

Thereafter, we chatted with Lakshman Singh, the owner-cum-cook of the guest house as he prepared a delicious dinner of chhapati, vegetable curry and scrambled eggs over his open fire-place kitchen. Stomach satisfied we called it a night.

Day 4

Distance Trekked : 12 kms
Trek Route: Dau Village-Khati Village- Malla Dhaur-Dwali

At 5 am Lakshman knocked at our door greeting us with some hot tea. He informed that the view of Maiktoli peak would be a treat to watch at sunrise. Indeed it was sight to behold. Sipping the cup of tea I walked down the open staircase as the first rays of the sun was hitting the snow-clad peak of Maiktoli. It was creating a dazzling effect. I just stood there amazed.

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Maiktoli Peak dazzles as the 1st sun-rays strike

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Khati Village gets lighted up

On the right was the cute Khati village, at a height of 7250 feet, as if hanging delicately above terraced fields of potato and wheat plantations. By 7.30 am Debu arrived and invited us to his home for breakfast. It was a gesture quite unseen and unheard of in our parts of the "busy city life".

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Khati - the last Village enroute

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Civilization amidst Cultivation

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Walking through the last Village

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With Debu's happy family

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Beauty by the Window

How generous and big-hearty these mountain people are, was all we could ponder and trekked a little over 1 kms to his home at Khati village. We were greeted by his wife, his 2 daughter-in-laws and son Khilaf. In fact, Khilaf helped his mom cook us a nice breakfast of puri, scrambled eggs fried with onion accompanied by home-made ghee, pickles along with some ‘not so palatable’ butter milk.

After that sumptuous homely breakfast, we thanked Debu's wife and started our trek at 9 am. Khilaf accompanied us carrying our rucksack and informed us that Debu would join us later ahead. Our target for the day was to reach Dwali - 11 kms away. Khilaf guided us through their village short-cut and initially we followed a very narrow half-a-feet cemented path winding through potato cultivation. The misty cloud cover made our trek comfortable.

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Leaving Khati our Trek Started

Initially, we trekked downhill till we reached the Pindari river roaring aside. Khilaf informed that we would follow the river all the way through the trek till the Pindari Glacier. The route laid with loads of rocks, was slippery and we had to be carefully at each step.

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1st view of the majestic Pindari River

Thereon, it was a steep uphill climb as we slowly made our way ahead. We walked past the lush forest path mostly uphill, sometime downhill and occasionally even. To our left was the Pindari river gushing downstream with its bluish waters. All around us was a thick wooded forest of pine, oak and maple trees. The steep climb uphill at times was taxing and we had to wait countless times to catch our breath.

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Steep Climb Uphill

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Lush Ferns

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Abandoned Tea house

Slowly and gradually we moved ahead soaking in the varied sights unfolding, both in our minds as well in the camera. Meanwhile, Debu overtook us and kept pushing ahead with our fully loaded ration rucksack pretty comfortably. After about an hour into the trek we reached a clearing and could see Debu resting outside a cute shepherd hut. We too rested there for some time. A slight drizzle started but thankfully it did not turn into a downpour.

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Resting A While

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Aqua Pure
Countless streams of spring water gushes by

The silence of the forest was occasionally broken by some bird calls. The only constant sound accompanying us was the raging waters of the Pindari river.

We continued to trot ahead and were surprised not to see any other fellow trekkers. Suddenly, we heard some voices coming down. It was of an Australian couple who was coming back from Dwali. We greeted and spoke a couple of minutes. They informed us that they could not make it to Kafni Glacier despite trying 2 days, as it was raining - "cloudy, no views buddy" was all they said. This made us apprehensive whether we would be able to view both the glaciers.

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Wooden Bridge at Malla Dhaur

By 11.30 am, we approached another clearing ahead, it was Malla Dhaur. We have trekked 6 kms uphill till now. Malla Dhaur, situated at a scenic setting besides the Pindari river had a few shepherd huts and a lone tea house. We rested for half-an-hour in the tea house and had some tea and hot maggie noodles.

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A Load of Bamboo
At Malla Dhaur a lady carries a load of thin wild bamboos, which is stocked and dried to be weaved into fine bamboo sheets

We also met two other trekker at the tea house. Both were doctors from Delhi and were on their way back. They informed that though it was cloudy the last couple of day, and the climb to Pindari quite tough, but it was a well-deserved effort. They were lucky to get clear views at Pindari Zero Point. It was in their words, "out of the world".

After some amusing chit-chat with them both they bid us adieu. We too, after resting our heels started off our next leg. Mitali was experiencing a slight pain in her right knee but was otherwise fine. We crossed a wooden bridge at Malla Dhaur and thereon the Pindari river that was to our left, moved to our right side.

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Lofty Waterfall

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Water of Life
Just could not resist to drink pure mineral water straight form the source

The whitish-bluish water of the fast flowing Pindari was a treat to our eyes. We continued the steep climb through the forest path frequently resting, chatting or simply soaking in the views silently. After another hour-an-half or so we were out of the forest and could see huge barren mountains to our left side.

We followed the narrow trail through a ridge and soon we could see some habitation ahead of us. Khilaf informed that it was Dwali – the confluence the Pindari and Kafni river, situated at a height of 8650 feet.

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Habitation Ahead
We could see the PWD & KMVN Trekkers huts of Dwali up ahead

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Thats Dwali

We were getting a bit exhausted but seeing the PWD Guest House and the KMVN Trekker Hut ahead gave us renewed energy to surge the final half-a-kilometer. We crossed a wooden bridge and below we could see the holy confluence of of the bluish Pindari and the turquoise Kafni waters coming in from two different directions.

A few meters ahead we crossed another bridge over the Pindari river and took the steep short-cut uphill to the KMVN Trekkers hut. It was 3.30 pm. Our legs were tired. It was cold at Dwali and the weather soon turned gloomy and started pouring heavily. We rested till late afternoon and chatted with Debu in the evening over some rum. Dinner consisted of some rice, dal and vegetable curry. Alongside, I stir-fried some tuna flakes with chopped onion, tomatoes and chilies making the dinner delicious.

Day 5

Distance Trekked : 5 kms
Trek Route: Dwali-Phurkiya

We took it little easy today. Khilaf woke us up at 6.30 am with some hot tea. It was cold yet sunny. Freshening up we sat outside in the warm sun and had our breakfast of tasty stuffed potatoes' parathas and pickles. The landscape around Dwali was utterly scenic as we gazed at Pindari and Kafni river meandering through.

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Out in the Sun

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Warming up

Our destination for the day was Phurkiya - 5 kms ahead. Assuming the short distance we were under the impression that we would be able to wrap this distance on the fly. How wrong we were. We started off at 9 am dumping a few more attire at the store room of the Dwali Trekkers Hut.

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The Walk Begins

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Massive Trunk on the Trail Path

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Rest a while

We trekked through the steep forest trail and it was very tiring. Our legs pained and Mitali was having problems. Slowly and gradually we moved ahead resting awhile every few meters. Each step we were gaining height as the thin air was gradually making breathing difficult. Debu as usual started late but soon overtook us and kept moving at ease. I continued encouraging Mitali to keep it going.

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Cascading Down

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1 down 4 to go

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Serene Waterfalls

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Marching Ahead

Soon we were out of the forest and were above the tree-line. Patches of snow lay scattered in all directions. Thereafter, we crossed a frozen stream. Strange as it seemed, water was flowing underneath the thick snow layer as we crossed it carefully. All around us were majestic nameless snow-clad mountains.

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Frozen Stream

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Watch Your Step

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Waterfalls over Waterfalls

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Pindari Flows Majestically

The Pindari river flowed below us and at one point Khilaf pointed us towards the river and we saw a big heard of Himalayan Tahr. They were moving through the rocks by the bank of the Pindari river. I was delighted to capture a few shots of these rare majestic animals in the camera. The last point before reaching Phurkiya was a green open meadow. Slowly, we had to climb through the steep zig-zag trail through the meadows.

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Rare Sighting - a herd of Himalayan Tahr

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Open Meadows

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Utterly Scenic

Countless streams of melting ice-water crossed our paths as we made our way ahead. We were by now far above the tree line. The only trees that grew here were dwarfed rhododendron and few other shrubs. Pink and white rhododendron flowers blooming in all directions were a treat to our eyes. Unlike our last year's trek to Khalia Top near Munsiyari, there were no red variety of rhododendron flowers to be seen here.

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Rhododendron Blooms

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Phurkiya up Ahead

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Finally, Phurkiya...

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Distances in Kilometers

Finally, after an arduous climb of over four-and-a-half hours we saw ahead to our relief the PWD guest house and KMVN Trekkers Hut of Phurkiya, at a height of 10,600 feet. It was 1.30 pm. It was cold in Phurkiya. Icy winds were blowing across our faces. Debu had already arrived and by the time we reached Phurkiya hot lunch was served to warm us up. The weather was turning gloomy. Clouds were moving in from all directions and soon it was a total whiteout.

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Shepherd Hut in Awesome Setting

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Serenity & Solitude

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PWD Guest House Phurkiya

Visibility fell low and we were as if in the midst of clouds. We rested our heels till late afternoon. Before dusk set in I moved out alone and explored the misty surroundings. Suddenly, out in the horizon, the cloud cover gave way and in front of me was the mesmerizing view the Nanda Khat peak. However, it stayed clear only for a few minutes.

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Total White-out

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Warm by the Fire

As evening set in I had a hot bath and along with Debu, we carried out a small puja for a successful trek to Pindari Glacier the next day. We had an early dinner and called it a night since tomorrow we plan to start as early as 4.30 am.

Day 6

Distance Trekked : 14 kms
Trek Route: Phurkiya-Pindari Glacier Zero Point-Phurkiya

After a toss and turn night, excited as I was, contemplating whether we would be lucky to view the Pindari Glacier, the caretaker of the KMVN Trekkers' Hut woke us up with some tea at 4 am. Freshening up quickly in the darkness, we set out on our final leg to the Pindari Glacier at 4.30 am. Mind it there is no electricity after Khati village in the entire route. Even in Khati, limited electricity runs through solar power.

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Started off to Pindari in the darkness

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Trekking Along a Frozen Pathway

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Dawn Slowly Breaking Through

Slowly, we could see the first light of the dawn breaking through. The steep initial climb made us exhausted quickly as the oxygen level was getting low as we were gaining height at every step. By 5 am it started getting brighter but some hovering clouds kept us apprehensive but we kept pushing ahead.

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Majestic Pindari - Following her to its Origin

Soon, one by one the majestic peaks became visible, Baljouri, Panjoli, Changuch and Nanda Kot - all as if within hand-reach distance. We walked past many a green meadows and ice-melt streams.

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Snow-Clad Peaks - amidst the Clouds

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Waterfalls atop a Frozen Stream

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Asolutely Serene

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Grassland so Alien

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Misty Mountains

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Simply Amazing

After covering about 2 kms I realized Mitali was lagging behind. Returning back some distance, I saw her sitting in a rock and was in tears. Her right knee again was hurting badly and I applied some relieving ointment and messaged her knee. Thankfully her pain subsided and we slowly continued ahead.

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Sheeps Grazing Along the open Meadows

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Pinkish rhododendron - a treat to our eyes

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3 kms More

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Pindari Glacier - the 1st view
At a distance of 3 kms from the Pindari Glacier, we saw her at her majestic best. Felt goose-bumps all over.

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A Wild Horse grazing Along

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Standing Tall

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Panjouli Group of Peaks

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Amidst mighty Peaks All Around

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Misty

Exhaustion was setting in but I kept encouraging her. The thin air was making breathing tough. Finally, by 7.30 am we were at the door steps of Dharmanda Giri Baba's Nanda Shiv Shaktipith Ashram. Babaji greeted us and we moved inside his wood and stone abode and bowed our heads at his temple of Nanda Devi Mata.

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Dharmananda Giri Baba's Ashram comes into view

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View from Baba's Ashram

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Alongside Baba

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Pindari Glacier - as seen from Baba's Ashram

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Majestic Changuch - Standing So Near

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Speechless we gazed at the Pindari Glacier

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Pindari Glacier smoothly sliding down

Babaji prepared some tea which warmed us up as it was getting very cold. We were amazed to see Babaji moving around barefoot carrying out his daily chores. The views from the ashram were awesome. It was like an amphitheater in front of which lies the panoramic views of the Himalayan range.

Clouds continued moving in from the south and the snow-clad peaks were getting partially covered. At about 9 am, after our exhaustion subsided, we decided to make the final walk to the Pindari Zero Point. From this point the Pindari Glacier could be viewed in its totality.

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The Final Leg

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Estatic, scared, fulfilled, happy - mixed feelings to see Pindari Glacier up so close

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Sweet Success - with Debu in Zero Point, Pindari Glacier

It was again another steep climb of about 2 kms. Debu with his Ice Axe lead the way and we slowly followed being totally bowled out at the views. The majestic Changuch stood out tall in front of us totally covered in white snow. Besides it on the right side the peak of Nanda Kot was also visible. As we trotted ahead, Mitali's pain was getting worse and I literally had to cajole her to complete the last half kms till Zero Point. I encouraged her to take her own time and keep coming as I moved forward.

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Mixed Emotions Engulfs Me - oh what a sight

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Changuch at touching distance

As I moved through the last steep climb, over ridge I could see the mouth of the Pindari Glacier. Tears just came to my eyes. I just shut off and kept gazing at its sheer 'out of the world' beauty. To me it resembled a living organism, a living force that lived through time immemorial. Huge crevasses were visible with the ice color ranging from blue to sapphire.

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Out of the World

Down below the white glacier, I could see the humble origin of the Pindari river trickling out of the snow-melt as a very small stream, in contrast to the raging Pindari that we followed all the way from Khati village. It surely was a humbling experience.

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Origin of the Pindari Ganga

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A Picture to Treasure

Mitali meanwhile reached the Zero Point and we captured as many photographs possible. We thanked Debu and prayed from the depth of our hearts, thanking Pindari for the holy darshan and sought her blessings as well. The height of Pindari Glacier Zero Point stood approximately at 3280 meters.

After spending about half an hour in celestial bliss we made our way back to Babaji's ashram. It started pouring after we entered Babaji's ashram. We thought how lucky we were to be able to get a darshan before the landscape got all covered with clouds.

Babaji was supervising some renovation work of his abode but in a whiff he cooked a hearty meal of rice, dal, fried potato balls, which he treated us inside his low roofed kitchen. Babaji has been residing in this paradise since the last 22 years, going down only for 2 months in winters when his ashram gets buried in 5-6 feet of snow.

Saw his compassion as we noticed that anyone who came to his ashram was offered free food and tea. As a gratitude for his hospitality, we inserted some money into his donation box after our prayers in his shrine. He does not ask for anything and it is up to you whether or not you donate anything. I had carried a copy of Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, which he gracefully accepted.

The drizzle outside continued as we bid a gracious adieu to Babaji and made our way back to Phurkiya at 1 pm.

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Back towards Phurkia

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Walking back in a total white-out

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Misty All the Way

We slowly trotted back in a total misty white-out state contemplating whether or not the Kafni trek would also be a success. We reached back Phurkiya at 3.30 totally chilled yet thrilled. Debu as an effective organizer moved us to the adjourning PWD guest house from the damp KMVN Trekers hut.

The PWD guest house had a cozy fire place in our allotted room. By the time we reached Phurkiya, the fireplace was already lighted and our room was warm. Changing our wet cloths we just sat by the fireplace satisfied.

As dusk set in chatted with Debu and heard his various memorable treks over the past 26 years and how he is worried for employment of his 4 sons. His elder son Khilaf and Anand is already following his father's footsteps guiding people to various treks. His younger two sons are studying, one in school and the other in Inter-mediate. He wants them to continue education and seek jobs outside. In his words, he enjoys each day of his job but he adds "it's taxing at times".

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By the Warm Fire Place

Late evening we had a light dinner. We realized that we were losing appetite perhaps due to altitude. Continued sitting near the fireplace till I ran out of firewood. I did not have the energy to go out in the cold seeking more firewood.

Next - A Trek to Pindari Glacier & Kafni Glacier - Part II

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Posted by sabyasachi 09:42 Archived in India Tagged trek_to_pindari_and kafni_glacier trekking_in_himalaya pindari_trek kafni_trek pindari_glacier_trek pindari_glacier_trekking kafni_glacier_trek kafni_glacier_trekking bageshwar barari khati_village dhakuri dwali purkhia khatia pindari_zero_point swamy_dharmananda_giri_ashram nanda_shiv_shaktipith confluence_of_pindari_and_kafni walliagar mouth_of_kafni_glacier uttaranchal_treks uttaranchal_trekking maiktoli_peak biljouri_peak nanda_khat nanda_kot changuch open_green_ meadows_of_kafni_trek trek_to_pindari trek_to_pindari_glacier trek_to_kafni trek_ to_kafni_glacier _to_pindari_glacier pindari_kafni_trek Comments (33)

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