10/17/04: 1216 Jhenjhipani to Pana
Ascent 3,040 24,943
Descent 1,110 23,853
Left camp at Jhenjhipani about 8 AM and headed down in to
the valley where the
After crossing the bridge we started a steep switch back
climb of around 3,000 ft passing the small town of
We set up camp about 800 ft above and three kilometers past
town on the trail to
Enjoying some sweat black tea sitting in my Therma-rest chair looking at the snow covered peaks of the southern tip of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary watching Prem Singh Negi crack and eat some fresh walnuts he picked up in the forest below the horses are grazing on some green grass in a meadow below a nomad Sheppard boy of six or seven years of age sits about 20 feet to my right watching me write in my journal I have absolutely no idea of what is going on in the world nor do I particularly care I have no way of even contacting the outside world in about ten minutes I will walk about 100 yards up the trail to a small crystal clear Himalayan spring and wash up then I will take a short nap before watching the sun set eating dinner and going to sleep at 8 PM my brain is not thinking in periods and commas. Tomorrow I think will ditto that.
10/18/04: 1216 Pana over
Ascent 5,600 30,543
Descent 2,840 26,293
LONG DAY!! We have two very long hard days before we reach our next town. Today nature trumped man. I can recall three scenes that leave a lasting impression. One of destruction, one of grace and one of static beauty.
On my map, which was printed in
As we hiked up the canyon wall we had a clear view of the process that both led to the formation of the lake in some past geologic time, and the current event that wiped the lake off the map. On the west wall of the canyon, there had been an enormous rock and earth slide long ago. The mountain above was scalloped out forming a funnel from which the earth poured like sand from an hour glass filling the canyon below. This massive earth slide followed gravity in to the base of the canon where it formed a natural dam, and Gohna Tal was born. Just a few years ago this region experienced epic monsoons. During this flooding the earth moved again, this time washing away natures dam and returning the canon to its original state. The difference this time was that humans were present to both witness and be victims of natures destructive power. An entire village down stream was washed away and many people were lost. Our current vantage point would have made great seats to view both events.
As we climbed toward tree line we came across a nesting area of the Himalayan Eagle. There were 15-20 birds either in the trees or circling above. With their wings spread, and banking 50 feet over our head, their grace and power captured your attention. They seemed oblivious to us. One eagle was perched on the top of a tree about 30 feet off the trail on the down hill side. Where it sat was horizontally level with our position. I held the cameral for several minutes waiting for it to lift off so I could get a full wind span picture.
Not to dispel any of the romance of the moment, but neither Raten (who identified the birds as a Himalayan Eagles) nor any of the rest of us are birders. According to the wildlife book the Himalayan Eagle is neither an eagle nor what we saw.
What is called a Himalayan Eagle is actually a bird called the Northern Hobby Hawk. We were either looking at a Himalayan Vulture or an eagle called the Crest Serpent Eagle.
Real Himalayan Eagle or Northern Hobby Hawk
continued on upward for a while and then began traversing the right hand side
of the valley where the
Showering on the way to Kauri Pass
After crossing the
The summit of
Dunagiri on left and Nanda Devi on right from east of Kauri Pass
We dropped a few thousand feet until we were below the snow line and made camp in an alpine meadow with a couple of small streams running through the meadow. Seven and half hours, 5,600 ft of climbing and 28 kilometers later we lay down on our sleeping bag and waited for our hot tea.