I began my journey at 8 on the chilly morning of December 27, 2020, aiming for Chaukori 110 km away.
For the primary 10 km, I cycled uphill and downhill after which for the subsequent 10-15 km, it was just about uphill. After a spot referred to as Dhaulchhina, there was some reduction as a result of biking 25 kms downhill to Seraghat. By the point I reached the second river bridge on the Seraghat Berinag highway, the clock confirmed 4.30 pm and I had a journey of 30 kms uphill to Chaukori. At 6 pm, it was pitch darkish however I had no choice however to maneuver ahead. Fortuitously, I used to be carrying a robust headlight. With a break to refuel my physique at a dhaba close to Berinag (the place apparently, leopards roamed the roads after darkish!), I needed to cycle by way of dense jungle to Chaukori.
Each particular person I met warned me of the risks of biking after darkish, however I used to be decided. Simply as my GPS display mentioned I had coated 99.5 kms with 9 kms to go, the headlight battery gave up! Fortuitously, a very good Samaritan in a passing automotive guided me along with his SUV’s headlights until the Udiyari bend after which a bunch of native guys gave me a carry to my resort 4 kms away. By now it was 11 pm, the temperature was about 5 levels beneath zero and I used to be nonetheless solely in my biking shorts and jersey!
Days 2 and three
Chaukori offers you a splendid view of the Panchachuli peaks. After an extended journey, a small low-pace journey is beneficial to supply your muscle groups with an lively restoration, in order that’s what I did. By the point I set off for Munsiyari, 96 kms away, the subsequent morning, I used to be rested sufficient to consider I might do the journey in sooner or later. However future had one thing completely different deliberate for me.
From Chaukori to Thal was a picturesque descent. The Ramganga river saved me firm and at one clearing, I ended for a view of Panchachuli. Snacking on bananas – which works finest for power and endurance – I rode upwards in the direction of Munsiyari, assured of arriving there the identical day. By late afternoon I used to be near Quiti, a reasonably large village round 44 kms from
Munsiyari, when all of the sudden the chain of my bicycle broke.
Fortunately Quiti had a motorcycle restore store and I used to be capable of proceed my journey. However after 5-6 kms, the chain broke once more and I realised it will be finest to name it a day. A pick-up truck took me again to the mechanic the place I learnt it may take as much as three days to convey a brand new chain from Haldwani. By now I had bought acquainted with my fellow passengers within the truck and learnt about their house close to Birthi falls, the place I made a decision to spend the night time.
One of many guys I had met on the truck was Puran Rautela, a trekking information. I requested him to take me on a close-by trek and after breakfast, we left for the Birthi falls. Our itinerary for the day was to succeed in the uppermost a part of the waterfalls the place, apparently, vacationers by no means enterprise. The trail to the highest was steep and slender and it took us near an hour to climb it. However it was completely well worth the effort. Each flip supplied a superb view of the huge open valley.
To my shock, I discovered some cows and calves there. Based on the locals, it’s a typical observe in these faraway villages to drive commercially non-viable cattle to unthinkable locations to die. Fortuitously, a few of my contacts in Delhi led me to a reasonably influential lady working an animal shelter in Almora and I paid the villagers to drive the cattle in the direction of a close-by village the place the district Justice of the Peace organized for them to be taken to a cow shelter in Pithoragarh.
Good deed performed, I spent the subsequent couple of days roaming the realm with Puran.
It was time to move in the direction of Munsiyari, tucked away within the farthest nook of Pithoragarh district. The locals informed me it will be a troublesome climb they usually weren’t flawed. There are a complete of 14 steep bends en path to the highest of Kalamuni and the roads are extraordinarily dilapidated. I used to be exhausted by the point I bought there and the highway on the descent to Munsiyari was no higher. I thanked the heavens that I had carried gloves, as a result of in any other case my fingers would have gone numb manoeuvring the bike by way of the potholes and enormous craters.
I reached the small hamlet of Munsiyari by early afternoon and checked right into a homestay with splendid views of the Panchachuli peaks, although I had really discovered the most effective views of the peaks earlier than Munsiyari! There, I made good associates with a person who had come all the way in which from Mumbai on his bike. He took me to a close-by dhaba run by a graduate of the Institute of Lodge Administration in Goa, who had served conventional momos in Ladakh to former president APJ Abdul Kalam.
It was time to journey to the Kalamuni prime once more, this time extra relaxed as a result of I already knew the roads I’d face. A mountain cross is all the time surreal, however with heavy clouds and light-weight precipitation, I needed to go quick and never get moist. Fortunately it was all downhill until Birthi falls and for an additional 15 kms. I made a small cease at Birthi village to say a closing goodbye to the individuals I had met.
For the subsequent few hours it was a very good journey and I crossed Pithoragarh district with just a little uphill journey, descending to the banks of the Ramganga river. My vacation spot for the day was a spot referred to as Shama, a hamlet 45 kms from Bageswar. From the river banks, it was an excessive sharp climb of 16-17 kms and it was about to get darkish. This stretch was the loneliest I had come throughout in Uttarakhand thus far, and to my dismay it was an evening with no moon. By the point I reached Shama it was round 8 pm and each store was closed already. I used to be exhausted, however fortuitously discovered a homestay and throughout the subsequent hour, I had a bellyful of rice, lentils and native spinach.
The homestay proprietor had requested me the night time earlier than if I’d like to hitch him for a morning stroll to see the dawn and I had merrily agreed. The ‘stroll’ turned out to be a four-km trek uphill! However simply as I used to be about to curse him, we bought to the highest and noticed the most effective view of your entire Kumaon vary of the Himalayas I had ever seen.
After that I started my journey to Bageshwar and after an hour’s steep climb, it was full downhill to the banks of the Saryu river, with an imposing view of the valleys round me. By late afternoon I had determined to journey onward to the temple city of Baijnath.
I used to be welcomed by the distant sound of the temple bells throughout night service. Relieved to discover a visitor home, I settled down, attempting to think about this place a whole bunch of years in the past. It was surreal.
I had made up my thoughts the night time earlier than to go to the temple throughout the morning service and rushed there at 7 am. There’s a cluster of temples, a very powerful of which is Baijnath, devoted to Lord Shiva. I’ve all the time been fascinated with outdated structure and this place was greater than I had anticipated. After two hours, I set off for the ultimate leg of my journey.
The primary halt was Kausani, the well-known vacationer vacation spot, which is a 15-km climb from Baijnath. However Kausani was fairly a hustle for me and I wished to move house to Almora. After a very good climb of 10-13 kms from Kosi, I rolled into city at nightfall. Now I can name myself MTB (mountain bike) rider!
From HT Brunch, March 14, 2021
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