It was 23rd June 2017 and we were in the lap of Nandikund. It was heavy cold and our thermometer was recording 3 degree Celsius temperature at 8 PM so we could expect that temperature would touch serious negative degrees in the night. Wearing all the warm clothes I have, went to nut-shell into my sleeping bag outside of which the challenging cold wind was fiery. As we woke up in the next morning, our tent was fully covered with fresh snow as expected.
If you walk up around 20-30 meters from this place to your lefthand side, you can witness a great and clear view of Chaukhambha peak. The same peak we saw from Budha Madhyamaheshwar 3 days back, but now it has become closer and yes of course much clearer.
It was about 7:30 AM and finally, it was the time to leave for the next leg of this trek which was going to be the toughest part of this trek as we were going to surpass 5300 meters high mountainous point for the first in our life. We had to walk on newly formed ice cover from our very first step today but there was a good implication by nature as the ice was solid and initially, the height was not that much challenging.
But the way ahead was challenging and yes we were in the mood to check our stamina and courageous streak in ourselves to trek in Himalayan Mountains taking the challenge into our chins. After moving about 100 meters from initial point i.e Nandikund, we had to climb a 45-degree ascent on solid ice path. Solid ice helps you stepping easily forward but not on a plain path on that height.
We could slip down anywhere in this part of the trek on that solid ice but we shouted out loud Lord Rama’s name which we believed made us feel stronger. We any how crossed that difficult patch with utmost caution. In that very patch of about 200 meters, I remember my God as many times as possible which I did not in my whole life I guess.
Vinayak pass or Ghiya Vinayak pass is about 5300 meters (more or less ) is a high mountain pass in Uttarakhand that connects Urgam Valley from Madhyamaheshwar Valley . Local Garhwali people call it as “Vinayak Raja”.
We had travelled about 4 Kilometers and gained a total height of about 900 meters in that 4 kilometers distance starting from Nandikund . We had to walk another 12 kilometers in total that day to reach Manpai Bugyal .
It was very challenging to climb and to reach Vinayak pas; even descending the same path too was not easy. It was a slope of 40-45 degree and the path was covered with snow and hard rocks in between. Most of the fellow trekkers took an easy slip and had reached 500 meters ahead but I was thinking hard of how to take a different path to reach there.
Fear of slipping down was making my nerves afraid to take the trek further. Ultimately I decided not to try anything else but to slip on that snow just like others and left my body free to flow. It took me about 200 meters in 3-4 minutes only. After this free flow, there was a boulder area full of rocky ends, big pebbles spread here and there irregularly.
Now it was an open valley, which is known as Urgam Valley and we were in open field after 2 days and crossing a tough (toughest for us ) mountain pass of 5300 meters height. Hurray !! We did that finally!! When the boulder area ended, there was a small temple known as “Vaitarni”. Also, there was a small area where you would see crystal clear water all over as it was not so deep. Vaitarni means a river in Hindi but there is no riverlike body to be seen here; but yes, water is available to wash your hands. We offered our prayers to local deity and ushered a ‘Big Thanks’ for helping us in crossing that pass named Vinayak safely.
After Vaitarni, the way was marked and flagged with directions and it was 2-3 feet broad. We saw a beautiful Bugyal after walking about one kilometer from Vaitarni and this bugyal was “Burma Bugyal “ which was not a plain area but was very lush green. There was a green ridge near this bugyal and near that green ridge was a small and beautiful temple named “Keli Vinayak”. Now the way to reach this temple was easy but you need to encounter a “Dhar” which means a small river. The water in the river was very chillingly cold and fast running too as I tried crossing that river. My trekking lower pant was completely torn out and shoes were filled with cold water. After crossing, we thanked God as that day marked the end of this grueling, challenging and funfilled trek.
It was about 3:30 PM when we reached Manpai Bugyal and pitched our tents there. It took about 9 hours to cover 12 kilometer that day but in that way, we crossed a high mountain pass of about 5300 meters which energized us and would always be a memorable moment for our life . It was really a big day for all of us. Manpai was a big Bugyal with many Himalayan herbal bushes all over. It was finally time to say goodbye.