Trek to Chopta, Uttarakhand

After the Haridwar & Rishikesh break, next day, we had to leave early, for Sari Village via Rudraprayag for YHAI Trek to Chopta, Tungnath & Chandrashila Peak.

We had to report at Sari Base Camp. Buses(Rs.240) for Rudraprayag are available from Rishikesh Bus Stand which was again, on the other side of the Foot Bridge from our Hotel. We had to leave early morning by 6.30 am. We had informed the Hotel staff regarding early check out. But, after going from basement to top three times, trying to wake up the person by knocking innumerable times, finally was able to complete the process of checking out.  Finally, we were out by 07:00 am.

I was contacted by two participants from Mumbai, who were supposed to join us for the same trek batch. We walked with our luggage all the way over to the other side and had breakfast there itself. Then, again walked till main road to catch an auto to drop us to the Rishikesh Main Bus Stand, which was near Ram Jhula. There are no direct bus to Sari, unless you hire a Taxi or Cab, which costs almost 6k+ for the one way trip. The Bus goes till Rudraprayag via Dev Prayag and further we had to catch another bus to Sari which is like 1 hr away from there.

This was supposed to be full day travel for us. We reached the Main Bus Stand, Bus was already full, waited for another hour for next bus to fill up.

Following the River, crossing it numerous times over and over, criss crossing mountain roads and a brief half for lunch, we reached Rudraprayag at 4 pm. The other two girls also reached 30 mins later in another bus. We, all four of us, hired a cab (Rs. 550/ head, we were 4 of us), dropping us directly, outside the Base Camp. It was almost dark and very cold. We were allotted the rooms and informed that, only four of us had reported to the last batch. We were asked to join the earlier batch, thereby skipping a day, wherein we would have instead got ourselves acclimatized.

We were also happy that. we would get one more spare day to spend at Rishikesh, after going back from Trek.  We slept for the day after having a scrumptious dinner and familiarizing with each other. We were instructed to gather in the morning after segregating our luggage. We left behind all the extra luggage and carried only those required for next 3 days or trek.

Next day was Day 2 of the actual Trek, we all gathered for breakfast by 08:00 AM, submitted our extra luggage by 09:30 AM and were off to Trek by 10:00 AM. We had to trek for 4 kms uphill to reach the Deoria Tal (Lake) Camp. It was a stone path way with intermittent steep steps, going zig zag, gaining height and entire path lined with beautiful Red Rhododendron Trees.

I am always slow while ascending, slowly climbing, Sari village can be seen while climbing, slowly fading from sight, the mountain view was amazing, there was a small café on the way. Every one halted, to rest a bit and drink the Rhododendron Juice offered by the Caretaker for Rs. 25/-. It was refreshing break.

Again, we started climbing and reached the campsite at Deoriatal by 2:00 PM, almost on time. We were given the welcome drink. With temperature falling further, we pulled the jacket out, set our bags in the allotted Tents and explored the surrounding. After lunch, we went to explore the Deoria Lake which was further 2 kms downhill from our Campsite. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Our group spent almost 3 hours photographing the area, walking around, enjoying the view. We came back to the Campsite, went towards other side to watch the Sunset. There were 12 people in total, across different age group, with one aim to Trek.

After Dinner and some chitchats, we retired for the day, with instruction to get up by 05:00 AM in the morning. Due to extreme cold, I was just tossing in my sleeping bag inside the tent. Still, managed to sleep some hours. Got up early morning by 4.30 AM, after refreshing and breakfast, we bid adieu to this campsite. We had a long day, with almost 18 kms up and down trekking the Mountain. We were all mentally prepared (Thought so).

So, Day 3 of the Trek from Deori Tal Camp to Chopta Starts.

The way to Chopta goes through Deori Tal. We had to go back to Deori Tal and take the route adjacent to the Lake. The entire trail passed through Himalayan Forest, lined with Rhododendron species of different colors, Red, Pink, Yellow, Peach, Mix colors. I was in awe and was happy, even if, I miss the snow at the end. The snow peaked Mountains was visible throughout the route.

Initially, the excitement was high, we were in lead for first half of the day, later started trailing behind and eventually, I had to literally drag myself, step by step to finish the Trek nearing Chopta. I lost the count of mountains, we crossed and still there was no sight of Camp.

Everyone was exhausted, further our Campsite was 4 Kms downhill from Chopta. As soon as we reached the tar road, we hitchhiked in a Car, we got in and asked him, if he can drop us at Baniyakund (Chopta Campsite) and shared Rs. 200/- for dropping the already souls.

We trekked from morning 6 to evening 6, with a lunch break at Rohini Bugyal around 2 PM for 30 mins. We were all exhausted, complaining about long trek to the Trek Leader. He informed us that earlier, this trek was usually done in two days, with a night halt at picturesque Rohini Bugyal Campsite. It was re-routed due to complaints of human waste that began accumulating at Rohini Bugyal after the Trekkers left. We wished they would start that night halt at Rohini Bugyal again, but offcourse, the responsibility of removal of human waste should be made compulsory for Organizers. Trekking with responsibility should be everybody’s concern. Because, the trail from Deori Tal to Chopta, through Himalayan Forest is so beautiful that one needs to take a halt in between to keep a happy pace while trekking. Dragging unnecessarily to finish the trek means losing the mind in quest, to finish the trek before 6 PM.

We were treated with Pakodas and Tea at Campsite. Temperature was below 10 degrees. We were all freezing, since, this was the best accommodation of this trek with Swiss Cottage tents, we were happy with the end product of the day.

We were instructed to wake up early by 5:30 AM for the trek, further to Chandrashila peak via Tungnath. I had lost interest in further trek, when I came to know that, there is no snow on the Peak, also the Tungnath Temple is closed for the winter. We decided to skip the further trek and rest for the next day. All four of us, we informed the Trek lead and woke up, next day by 08:00 pm.

Day 4 of the Trek. We decided to explore Chopta. I was fresh next day, with no pain (as assumed it would be). We all hired a car to drop us at Chopta. We walked around, did some photography and came to know about Tungnath Idol being kept at Mukhimath village. We hired a cab (Rs. 600/head,2400 for 4 ppl) , and went for a 2 hours drive, via zig zag slopes heading downhill. One of us and myself had to stop the car, to vomit. We were feeling uneasy, due to sudden decreasing altitude.

After visiting the Mukhimath temple, we climbed the Mountain again, back to Chopta Campsite. We were joined by other members, who went to Chandrashila Peak. We didn’t feel bad for skipping it. Maybe some other time, once again, we might climb the Chandrashila Peak. We were driven back to the Sari Village. We had our night stay at Sari. We received our certificates, collected our luggage, gave the feedback, had dinner and slept for the night.

Next day, we and others too, boarded the early 6.00 am bus back to Rudraprayag. As luck would have it, the bus was supposed to go further to Haridwar. We extended out ticket till Rishikesh (Rs. 340). we checked in at Hotel Sewen, which in itself was kind of luxury, in terms of hotel room’s cleanliness and deco. We rested for some time, in the evening again, roamed around the Laxman Jhula Market area.

We left for Haridwar next day afternoon, with news of lockdown trickling in. We left in a shared Auto (Rs. 350 for 2 ppl). We were stopped while entering Haridwar, Rapid Antigen was tested, we were informed of negative report. We asked them to stamp negative on our wrist, so that we would be spared of further checking on the way. We boarded the midnight train back to Mumbai.

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