Uttarakhand is considered as trekkers’ paradise with so many beautiful trails and mountain passes. We set out for Kuari Pass back in November 2017 when there was no travel restriction, no Coronavirus. To seek out adventure, to be up close with the snow-capped mountains, to pacify our wanderlust, and of course to find a beautiful story.
The night was dark, deep, and lonely.
We pitched our tent at Tali top, inside Nandadevi National park, beneath the monstrous pine trees. The sky was cloudy and black. All night long, we heard the sound of snowfall. It was the very first time we were experiencing snowfall. The feeling was like…like… I cannot describe it in words.
But there was an eerie feeling too, kind of frightening.
Sunday (19th November 2017) was the D-day. The day of our Kuari Pass summit. It was a long trail ahead. We had to hit the bed early to ensure proper rest. Dinner was served early at 7.30 pm. After the sumptuous dinner, we were entering into our tents. Only a few of the team were standing just outside. The temperature was shivering minus. Still, we were enjoying the cold bites. Ice flakes were falling incessantly.
It felt like a surreal moment!
Something in the woods!
The night was young when I rose my head to see the jungle and saw something. It felt like something was watching us from the woods. Lights from my head torch fell straight onto it and instantly it started running, but suddenly it glanced back. We saw its flashing eyes, like a pair of burning balls. Frightened, we took no time to call our guide Ashish. I can’t describe here how fast all of that was happening within just a few moments.
Ashish came and assured us casually that it was nothing. “Kuch nahi jungli suar hoga.”
That night we couldn’t sleep properly. Added to this Kalu, the dog came with us from Dhak village barked all night.
At around 1 am, I woke up, as I had to go outside. No one was willing to go outside the tent on that frozen night. So I went out lonely. The moment I put my head outside, again I saw something fleeing away. It was an eerie feeling. I felt like something was watching me before vanishing into the woods.
I just couldn’t sleep that night and spent awake inside the sleeping bag. When the day broke, it was like finally, the dreadful night was over. In the morning, what Ashish told us, it was enough to send a chill through our spines. “Wo suar nahi, lomri tha.”
Trek to top
The next day was sunny and bright. Night had passed. We were supposed to start our journey at 7 o’clock but ended up starting at 8.25 in the morning. The trek was not very tough. We were comfortable. But as time passed, clouds started to cover the sky. And finally, when we reached Kuari Pass at 12,763 feet, the sky was grumpy and gloomy. However, a feeling of relaxation engulfed us, because we had reached our destination.
Our guide allowed us only half an hour to relish the view and our success there. Because anytime rain might hit us. Everyone was carrying ponchos but Ashish didn’t want to take the risk. He was continuously telling us to hurry. Though we were hardly bothered as he was much younger than us. And we were pretty much elated with the taste of success.
As we started our journey back from the pass, the grumpy sky finally started talking as a storm broke and snow started falling. There was a broken bridge just before the Kuari Pass. Crossing it was very tricky. The ice was hard, slippery and we didn’t have any crampon with us. However, Ashish helped us with his experienced hand so that we can pass that tricky part safely.
In the heavy wind, we met Pete, a British runner. He didn’t have any guide with him. All he wanted was to go to Auli. But didn’t know which way it was. Instead, he was going towards Kuari Pass, which is totally in opposite direction. We directed him which way he had to go. Pete was like a trotter. He just vanished within a few minutes.
In the morning we saw golden grass. And in the evening there was a thick layer of snow. Everywhere was snow. On trees, rock, ground everywhere. We were in the white land. In the realm of snow.
There were at least 5 inches of snow. After returning to our campsite, our first job was to clear the snow. Otherwise, the tent might collapse due to the weight of snow. And it happened as well.
- Best time for Kuari Pass trek is April-June and September-October.
- You can either trek from Auli or from Dhak village. Distances are the same from Joshimath i.e of 16 km, but trekking from Auli during winter and season beginning is tough due to excessive snow but the view from Gorson Top is amazing.
- Difficulty grade-wise this trek falls in the category of tough for the occasional trekker, but easy for the seasoned trekker.
In the evening, when we were having tea and snacks in the kitchen tent, our guide went out to clear the snow. He had just started to shake the tent and it suddenly collapsed.
The next day was our last day of the trip. A bright sunny and blossoming day. It was around a 10 km walk through the Gorson Bugyal. Under our shoes, there was a thick layer of loose snow.
A beautiful tale to tell
On our last day of the trip, we had ample time. There was no need to hurry. And we didn’t. We were just amazed by the snow-capped peaks, the floating clouds, and the deep blue sky. It felt like we can sit and watch the landscape for eternity.
Before Kuari we did Sandakphu, Goecha La, and Dzongu trek. But no other trek gave so many good memories, an eerie night, unforgettable moments, and a beautiful tale to tell.
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