This trek is often referred as ‘the most ideal trek for beginners’ or ‘a family trek’ as it is comparatively easy. We were also discouraged by few stating that this trek is very crowded. However after going through various posts and other details, we decided to do the Har-Ki-Dun trek in the first week of November 2014. For two of my fellow trekkers , it was a first time experience. for me, it was my second trek. We just got back to the city life and as the memories are fresh, I am detailing what I am carrying from this popular trek.
The total length that we covered till the face of the Jumdhar glacier via Har-ki-dun and return would be around 60km in 6 days. The trail starts from Taluka and ends at the glacier front via Gangarh, Osla and Har-ki-dun. The trail is extremely beautiful. Although most part of the trek is rocky, there are patches where we walked over sand or soft black soil mixed with cattle dung, mostly mule. There are areas where the trail goes under thick vegetation and the path in those areas were mostly covered by dry winter leaves. At Osla, the trail goes via Osla village which gave us a great opportunity to witness the village life in the remotest area. At times we walked over dry paddy fields where the villagers cultivate rajma(kidney bean) and ramdana(known as God’s own grain). There were rickety bridges that we took while crossing few streams and the river Supin. The smaller streams we just crossed on foot.
The first day we walked till Gangarh village. The entire trail till Gangarh goes by the river Supin on it’s left. The trail is mostly covered under thick vegetation. The small huts which can be seen in the below picture are from the Gangarh Village. We spent our first and the last night at Gangarh. The last night at Gangarh was eventful as a Himalayan brown bear came to the village at night and broke an atta chakki( wheat grinder) used by the villagers
Landslide is very common in Uttarakhand and we came across many such areas where a landslide had almost destroyed the trail. Such landslides made the trail more interesting but added lots of woes to the villagers for whom the trail is like a national highway.
We crossed the river Supin before entering Osla village. The trail from this point onwards is dry and we walked under direct sunlight till the end of day 2. The village is at a higher altitude and reaching the village was a tough job. While on return, we came via Seema to avoid this intense climb.
The large meadows in between provides flat trails to regain much needed energy. We used to pick one such area for our lunch break. But the worry always used to be the same – after each meadow there used to be a difficult climb and climbing post lunch used to be the most tedious part.
There were at least 5 such places where the inclined walk was difficult. At times, when we reached the top of such inclined path, I used to feel that I have conquered something and that used to give me the motivation to go a few meters down only to take an another inclined walk. My friend used to say, “going down is just an illusion”.
Looking at the distant waterfalls and beautiful peaks, I covered much of the distance without realising the pain in my legs. Day 3 was full of excitements as the trail was leading us to our final camp site – Har-ki-dun. A village dog also joined us during a part of the trail.
I found the trail from Har-ki-dun camp site (below) to the glacier front as the most challenging but exciting one. The trail goes via a flat terrain and then goes upwards. While going upwards, we walked on the edge of a steep inclined hill. Due to climate changes the glacier has retreated a few kilometres. I wanted to walk on the ice fill glacier but had to return from a point which was at least a kilometre away from the glacier. At that last point the guide offered prayer to lord Shiva by lighting an incense stick.
The Jumdhar glacier (above) is referred by locals as the gateway to heaven which was used by the Pandavs from the Mahabharat times. We also enjoyed birding throughout the trail. Himalayan Griffon vultures could be seen in high numbers near Osla village. Other species that we saw were – Snow pigeon, Streaked laughing thrush, Himalayan Monal, Red-billed magpie, Black-throated tit, White-capped redstart, Brown dipper, Crested kingfisher, Spotted and Little forktail, Blue whistling thrush, Yellow-bellied fantail, Small yellow-naped woodpecker etc.
To summarize, I found this trek beautiful, full of fun and a way to understand the life of people living in the remotest(Ati-durgam) areas of our hills. The trek unveils the hidden beauty and vastness of nature and I would strongly recommend this trek for my readers.
*Jumdhar glacier is also known as Jaundhar, Jamdar, Jamdhar etc.