From Sari to Deoriatal (Day 3)
Deoriatal, which happened to be the next campsite is located about 3 kms trek uphill from Sari village. Deoriatal is famous for the beautiful lake at a location where Mount Chaukhamba is visible in its full glory along with the garhwal himalayan mountain range.
I woke up by 5.30 a.m and most of other members of the trekking group were awake by that time as well. We followed tri-time rule as strictly instructed to us by our trek leader,Jude; as in eg. 6-7-8 implies wake by 6 a.m, have breakfast by 7 a.m and get ready by 8 a.m. Of course the time would change everyday based on situation but we were all instructed to follow whatever time was provided to us, lest missing some critical check points along with way.
Sari was the last location where we would get to charge our electronic devices and everyone in the group was busy trying to get plug points while packing up for the day ahead. This was also the opportunity to offload our baggage to the porters which many of the members did in fact. We quickly had our hot breakfast; potatoes, idli, tea and cornflakes (There were a few other items as well). Some trekkers purchased additional items like ponchos, trek poles etc for the trek. Ramya for e.g purchased her poncho from Indiahikes at Sari. All said and done, we were a bit late that day and Jude was not happy. It was almost 9.30 a.m in fact by the time last of us got ready. Ah well, it was the first day and so we got excused.
We assembled on outside the base camp and Jude gave the itinerary for the day and some quick tips on how to acclimatize fast to the altitude. Apart from our 12kgs backpacks, we were also asked to carry “eco bags” as a part of the special Initiative by India Hikes. All the trekkers were asked to collect trash (waste wrappers, plastic bottles, waste paper etc ) on the way in order to keep the trek trails clean for the future which is quite wonderful. As far as the actual trekking is concerned, we would have one member from IH in the front leading the way, one in the middle and other one at the very last.
And we were off…Stairs just off the main road leading all the way up to Deoriatal lake.
The trek from Sari to Deoriatal is essentially walking up a 150 storeyed apartment since it is “staired” pretty much the entire stretch. In fact there are a few schools along the way and we found many school kids on the way to school, being morning time ; this difficult climb is a everyday thing for them. The view itself remained essentially the same throughout the climb, the only difference being we were climbing higher up the mountain and panoramic view was expanding with every step that we took.In the far distance, Chandrashila peak is visible and the entire valley with Sari village nestled in the middle is a sight to behold.
Multiple shacks along the way sell a variety of snacks including noodles, biscuits, tea/coffee, chocolates etc. We were allowed to purchase the packaged items but recommended not to eat anything else . (Eg Maggi noodles). The route from Sari to Deoriatal is famous since it leads to the pristine lake on top of the mountains.
After about 2-3 hours of trek, we finally reached the deoriatal campsite. As we neared the campsite, we caught our first glimpse of snow; No, it wasn’t snowing but hey, there was decent amount of snow on the trek trail and that it was enough to make the group ecstatic.
The forest cleared way to an opening and Oh My!! What a view ! We had finally reached Deoriatal Campsite. The deoriatal lake with the mighty chaukhamba mountain in the background took our breath away. As a matter of fact there were a lot of school students already present there and playing with the first snow of the season.(At that location i.e).
The camp site was located in the open ground; many tents were pitched and we were treated to some lemon juice as soon as we reached the camp. In parallel, we got the ourselves a tent as well. I was bunking with Sandeep that night. While I wanted to get some photography done immediately, Jude called us for some stretching exercises. We formed a circle and got those done in 5 minutes or so, but wait !; he was not done yet. Next up were few quick “mind games” involving some quick thinking and recalling the names of everyone in the trek group. We were given a 15 mins breather during which we managed to capture a couple of more shots and slipped into some comfortable footwear as well.
And and it was lunch time already ! Hot rice, Chappati, Sabji, Dal, Papad and an awesome view by a beautiful lake. What else is needed ? We were advised not to sleep in the afternoon regardless of how tired we were in order to ensure that we would get proper sleep in the night. So more of photography session it was !. In meantime , some one took out a pack of UNO cards; it had been probably 10 years or so since I had last played UNO. After a quick training session, we played two round of UNO amongst at least 8 people. I lost both the rounds !! We were about to start the third round and that’s when jude called us for a evening trek to a nearby location at 4.30 p.m. Phew ! I was saved !!
Supposedly this evening trek offered an even better view of chaukhamba from a particular viewpoint. So a part of the group left for the viewpoint. It wasn’t much of a trek really, i mean we were at the viewpoint within 15 mins or so.There was a viewing tower there from where almost the entire gharwal himalayas range was visible including the Kedar dome and gangotri.
We bookmarked this place to get some awesome evening sunset shots before we left. A 5 mins walk via a shortcut and we were back at the campsite again.Another quick round of UNO, some evening tea and it was sunset already.
As decided, three of us trekked up via the short cut to the viewing tower and took caught one of the most breathtaking sunset of our lives. You never get tired of it, no matter how many times you see it.
Here we met up with another group of photographers. One of them wanted the sunset shot so badly that he actually trekked all the way from Sari to Deoriatal twice since he ran out of battery charge last time. All in all, truly worth it. It was late evening by the time we got back to the campsite and awaiting the stars and the night sky. Jude called us out to have some hot dinner as well. Again some hot rice with Dal, Roti and sabji. I really wanted to get some proper shot of the night sky with the stars; something we don’t really get to see in the city with all the light pollution.
After dinner, Jude called us for an awesome session on star gazing and astronomy. He had a pair of binoculars and helped us identify many constellations , stars and even locate the Andromeda galaxy using the binoculars. This was probably one of the best part of the trek and quite enlightening for all of us as well.
Post the star gazing session, I borrowed Jude’s tripod and tried to get some shots of the night sky; but alas ! Just after taking my first 30 seconds long exposure, my battery was down to 2 bars. And I had another 2 day of trek left! . It was simply not worth the risk losing shots of Chandrashila peak. It was getting quite late as well. So I packed everything up and went to sleep, hoping for a brighter next day (and praying that the camera battery lasts the trip).