So it was during august 2020 when we all were going through unlock phase and inter-state travel was about to open with several restrictions. Alike every other travel enthusiast, I was also full of frustration due to lockdown but I tried to keep myself stable by checking out old travel photos/videos and reliving past travel experiences. When I was almost about to reach the saturation point, I decided to travel and go to the mountains in the month of September. I already knew that it is not going to be a cakewalk as there were several restrictions set by the government but I already made up my mind for that.
Finalizing the trek
Whenever I want to finalize any trek plan the first number I call every time is of Himanshu. As I know, he could never say no for a trek/trip and he strictly follows the Bro-Code protocols. After a discussion, we were left with 2 options, i.e., Chandranahan lake and Gaumukh Tapovan trek. We decided to go on the latter one and finalized the things accordingly. This time we planned to do an alpine trek, meaning we had to arrange and carry all the logistics and food on our own. As this trek is done inside a national park, a guide is usually mandatory to accompany during the trek as per the forest rules. We hired a local guide and a porter too and for food, we decided to use a new product this time called Heatomate along with ready-to-eat food.
Apart from Himanshu, Nilmani Parth (a professional filmmaker) also accompanied on this trek to make some kickass videos and photos.
COVID Test and problems related to that
Now comes the main part, the COVID test. At that time, COVID negative report was mandatory to enter Uttarakhand and travel without getting quarantined. We also decided to get our test done.
I enquired from several private labs and got to know that no private lab in Agra was doing an RT-PCR test. They were only doing the Rapid Antibody test and it was not acceptable in Uttarakhand. As per the guidelines, only RT-PCR, CB-NAAT, & TRU-NAAT were acceptable. Then I was left with only one option, govt hospital. I went there and got to know that they were doing an RT-PCR test for free.
We had to leave on 19, so we decided to get our test done on 16 to get our report on 18. On 16, I went to the hospital, did all the formalities, and gave my sample. It was a smooth process and it took just an hour. I did all the packing and purchased some essentials.
Now, it was 18 Sept, I went to the CMO office to take my report and unfortunately, I didn’t get it. The report wasn’t generated by that time. I got in a complete dilemma as everything was booked including the transport, hotel, guide, etc. I came back home and started thinking about the backup plan or you can say some “Jugaad”. It just clicked my mind that I have the number of a person who was in the staff of the hospital and I met him in the parking. I called him and requested him to do something for my report. He had contacts with the doctor and inside the department, so he assured me to continue with my plan and he would send me the report by tomorrow morning. All the stress got vanished and I began packing all the stuff.
Agra to Delhi to Dehradun – Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
Boarded the taxi for Delhi in the morning and reached by 11 am. As promised, that guy sent the report on my WhatsApp in the morning while I was traveling. Our train was at 3 pm, so I waited at Haldirams and completed the registration on the Dehradun Smart City portal. After meeting Nilmani and Himanshu at the railway station, we boarded the train and started our journey to Dehradun. The train was full, we didn’t expect that much crowd. We spent half of the journey time standing at the door to maintain some social distancing. After reaching the Dehradun railway station, we were checked with all the documents and at last, we reached the hotel at Dehradun.
Dehradun to Gangotri – Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
We woke up at 4 to catch the bus at 5 leaving towards Uttarkashi. After all the struggle, we were finally in the mountains. It took around 7 hours to reach Uttarkashi and from there we took a taxi to Gangotri. Picked up the guide and porter from Bhatwari village and continued the scenic drive to Gangotri temple, which was the starting point of the trek. I have been to all Char Dhams (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath) and I personally liked the route of Gangotri temple the most. After passing Uttarkashi, the road gets scenic and crosses through beautiful villages like Harsil, Darali, Bhaironghati, etc. We reached Gangotri by evening and the place was almost empty. There was no crowd and only a couple of shops and hotels were operational.
Trek from Gangotri to Bhojwasa – Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
Finally, after all the struggles and tragedies (there were so many things that happened in between like the challan of the taxi, not getting clearance from the authorities in Uttarakhand, and blah blah), we were starting the trek. We were supposed to start by 9 am but due to some permit issue, we got able to begin it by 12 pm. We crossed the temple and took the route made up of steep stairs to get on the main trail going towards Gangotri National Park. The stairs worked like a good warm-up for us as we all were doing a trek after around 8 or 9 months. The trail was cemented and almost flat up to the entry gate of the national park. It took around 40 minutes to reach there. We met with the forest ranger, completed all the formalities and we entered the Gangotri National Park.
Bhojwasa was 14 km from the Gangotri National Park entrance gate, so it was going to be a long trekking day. The further trail was slightly uphill and was quite wide. The Bhagirathi river was flowing on our right side and we could see the entire valley having Sudarshan Parbat as the first snowcapped peak view. Our rucksacks were weighing around 18kgs due to the stuff and mainly the food. The sun was strong and we were sweating like hell. After taking several breaks, we reached Chirbasa by around 4 PM and decided to have our lunch there. So we unpacked our bags, took out the heatomate & ready-to-eat food to prepare our lunch. It took just 10 minutes to do the same and the food was tasty.
After having lunch, we resumed our trek towards Bhojwasa which was further 5 km from there. It was 5 pm by our watch and the weather started getting cold. We crossed the pine forest and continued on a narrow muddy trail which was a blend of uphill and downhill slopes. The last km felt a bit longer as we got quite tired and then we finally reached Bhojwasa by around 7:30 pm. We pitched our camps, had our dinner after relaxing a bit, and dozed off early as we all were tired.
Chirbasa- Gangotri National Park
The place is named after the pine tree forest. Chir is called Pine in English. It is famous and one of the most common trees found in Uttarakhand.
Bhojbasa- Gangotri National Park
This place is named after a tree called Bhojpatra, which is considered a sacred tree as per Hindu Mythology. It is believed that the Ramayana and Mahabharata were written on the bark of this tree.