10/14/04: 1508  Sutol to Tikuna Dhar

                        Today              Total

Ascent              2,550               17,023

Descent            2,420               16,885

Rained all morning until about 10:00 AM when the Boss decided it was time to pack up and move, rain or shine.  We packed up in the rain and headed for Tikuna Dar.  With in minutes of starting on the trail the rain stopped and the rest of the day was absolutely beautiful late summer early fall weather.

After we passed through Kuling (end of the road) six days ago there has been no sign of electricity in any form, running water, any mechanically assisted transportation (walking only), power tools (even battery operated) or sewage system.  All cooking and heating is done with wood burning fire.  Fortunately the wood fuels are plentiful in most areas.

After we left Sutol we descended about a 1,000 ft on a rocky trail and crossed a foot bridge over the Nandakini River.  Given the non-industrial nature of life we had witnessed over the past week, and the fact that we were at least 30-40 miles from the nearest bad road, we were very surprised to see a couple of 20 foot long, 1 inch thick, 12 inch high steel I-beams sitting on the ground.  I pondered this for a while and then made the only logical conclusion possible, they must have been brought in by helicopter.  This observation was soon filed away in the minor curiosity section of the soon to be forgotten department of the brain.

We continued  on our trek through the spectacular Nandakini Valley.  The trail climbed steeply for 2,000 vertical feet along the west wall of the canyon.  I can not remember any place along the trail where a misstep that took you off this 2-4 foot wide trail wouldn’t have resulted in death.  It was that steep!

About 2/3rds of the way up this switch back climb we ran directly into the answer to the steel I-beam mystery.  Coming down the trail were 14 men with wooden poles resting on their shoulders which were lashed to wooden cross beams, that were in turn lashed with hemp rope to a 20 ft long, 12 inch high, 1 inch thick steel I-beam.  There were two men behind the beam, holding a hemp rope that was secured to the I-beam, acting as brakemen so that the load didn’t get too much down hill momentum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mo gives the guys a little encouragement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It would be a wild guess, but I would have to think the beam weighed around 1,000 lbs.  Most amazing of all is that they stopped on the trail and smiled for two pictures.  When we reached the top of the climb there were about 10 beams sitting on the ground.  Another group of men were hauling the beams up from the other side of the pass.  There were a few grunts, but I never saw a man grimace or complain.

It turns out that a few years before there was massive flooding along this river and a dam and a village were washed away.  The foot bridge was the only connection between the villages on either side of the river.

 

We are now in our camp at Tikuna Dhar.  Our camp sits on a high meadow well above the river valley that we have been following all day.  Scanning around 3600  reveals that we are surrounded on three sides by high snow covered peaks.  I can see two waterfalls  that drop between 500-1,000 ft.  Trisul still looms over head directly north.  My westerner mentality comes out and I think, if this were any place else on the planet it would have been developed in to a five star resort.  If any of the smaller 14,000-18,000 ft peaks were in North America they would be the dream of every American climber.

The kid communication system is highly developed here.  With in a few hours of arriving several kids had hiked up from the town below and are playing in the meadow where we are camped.  As with all the children we have encountered they are fascinated with what ever we are doing.  This group was very interested in our living conditions and when we opened the flap of the tent after a short rest, we were met with several curious faces staring in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids checking out our tent world at Tkuna Dahr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/15/04: 1508  Tikuna Dhar to Ramni

                        Today              Total

Ascent              2,810               19,833

Descent            2,420               18,126

Having exhausted our bad weather Karma we cashed in a little good weather karma.  All day, starting with sunrise, weather has been ideal.  Clear blue skies and temperature in the 70’s.

Speaking of karma, I bought a book on understanding the Hindu religion (or way of life), and have become much enlightened about the oldest active religion on the planet.  It is a wonder that it is not better known or more popular in western cultures, but maybe 2,000,000,000 follows is enough.  The real reason that it is not more popular is that there is no single “Bible”, but rather many books of teachings (too much reading and thinking), there is no single founder to worship, there is no single living leader, it does not claim either that it is the best or only true religion, and it is completely tolerant of all other religions and ways of life.  It also does not have a lot of laws, because it teaches that while knowledge, honesty and respect are timeless, laws are made by man and dependent on current cultural and the time we live.  I think that is why they didn’t specifically address birth control, stem cell research or Amendment II of our constitution.

Most of their teachings just make good sense.  Karma is a good example.  They teach that there are three types of Karma.  I would say that at least two of these are absolutely verifiable in our lives.  The first type of karma is your parents.  If you are born to good parents who care for you and can provide for you, then you have received 1/3 of the good fortune you need in life.  The second type is the result of living an honest life and treating others well.  If you do that then you receive back 1/3 of your good fortune during this life (what goes around comes around).  The third type of karma is one you would have to take on faith.  It is the good fortune you experience in this life that results from having lived a good previous life.   Personally I find the third type of karma, and the prospect of reincarnation, much more motivating in living a good life now than the concept of a single life leading to an eternal paradise in heaven or even 72 virgins.

I digress again.

The terrain has become a little more rocky, but tomorrow we are supposed to descend through one of the densest forest in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas.

Our camp is on a grassy hillside about 3,000 feet above the river valley and 1,000 feet above Ramni. 

From camp we can see two separate parts of the high Himalayan range ((the Nanda Devi Sanctuary to the east and the Kendernath Sanctuary (Nilkantha 6,600 m/21,780 ft, Chakhamba 7,070 m/23,300 ft) to the northwest)) as well as the homes

and terraces of Ramni below. This is the #1 camp site so far. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from camp down to Ramni below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have met a few trekkers coming through from the west (opposite direction we are traveling) and all were Indian.  One of the Indians was a young lady from Seattle traveling by herself with a single porter.  There is a comfort in talking to someone fluent in your native language.  She is only the second person we have encountered in the past eight days who speaks English.

 

11/16/04: 0641 Camp above Ramni

Since we are running low on film I will try to create a verbal picture of the morning.  At 0600 exited the tent to find heavy frost in the meadow.  The sky was just starting to get light and the sun had not cleared the Trisul ridge to the east.  Walked up the ridge to about 9,000 ft.  From this point could see an estimated 100 miles south and at least 50 miles north, east and west.  There were a few scattered  pink cirrus clouds over Trisul, but otherwise the sky was completely clear.

To the east, over the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, the new day is winning the battle as the sky gradually illuminates and the Trisul profile becomes more distinct. To the west the Kendernath Sanctuary is still battling the night as the sky fades from pink and light blue in the east to near blackness in the west over Chakhamb and Nilkantha.  By 6:20 the first rays of light hit the summit of Nilkantha and with in 30 minutes the entire glaciated east face of the mountain is in sunlight.  The sky from horizon to horizon is light blue with the only remain hint of night being the deep shadows in the valley and the receding frost in the meadow.

 

10/16/04: 1430  Ramni to Jhenjhipani

                        Today              Total

Ascent              2,070               21,903

Descent            4,060               22,460

 

Beautiful all day.  After hitting the high point at 10,000 ft descended over 4,000 ft to jhenjhipani.

 

 

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