So we (the 2 jokers - Anurag Jetly and Saptadeep Chatterjee) decide to go on a trek to Roopkund and other parts in the Himalayan range in Chamoli district, Uttrakhand. Out of all the months of the year, we choose the monsoon season and also decide to carry some serious Photography equipment in order to shoot timelapses up in the mountains.
Why someone would select the Monsoon season to go on a trek to the mountains, you may ask. But we had our reasons. Watch this space and in a few days you will probably get your answer.
Now, let’s get back to the adventure.
We were a team of two, but our support staff was a crew of 7 people. We had so much of equipment, luggage, amenities and food supplies that we also had 4 MULES to carry all those through the tough terrains. The crew included, porters, a cook and a 65 year old super-human guide (Mr. Jawahar Singh Bisht).
As professional ‘freelance’ photographers, we have one small gift. That is the gift of TIME. We normally do not have to rush back to our lives from our trips in time for a Monday morning. So initially we had decided to go for 15 days. We ended up travelling for 25 days, taking it slow at some stretches of terrain, maybe spend an extra day at some places because you just don’t get enough.
25 days of mainly Daal and Chawal (Pahaadi Meat on 2 ocassions), 25 days without internet, electricity, mobile phones, music, gulaab jamun, 25 breathtakingly beautiful cribbing-less days.
In all we trekked for some 140 Kms (Wan to Ghairoli Patal to Baidini Bugyal to Pathar Nachauniya to Bagua Basa to Roopkund and then back from Roopkund to Aali Bugyal to Balan to Himni to Dulam to Bagichi Bugyal to Navali Bugyal and down to Sawar Village).
All the above are the places where we camped. The kind of beautiful places that we saw on our way and back, cannot be put down in words. I do not even want to try to find new words. They will never do any justice. So here are a few photographs, which might transcend the message better.
On our way up, we did get a few ready-made campsites (the Roopkund trail is fairly popular among trekkers and tourists). Of course we did not meet any tourists, because only really crazy tourists would visit such places during the monsoons. Who wants to get wet, at high altitudes where the winds are so strong and so cold that your toes hurt inside your super thick trekking shoes if you forget to wear two thick layers of socks. Trekking in such weather, at such high altitudes is one story and then shooting timelapse photography and videos in such weather at such high altitudes is a whole different story.
However, on our way back, we deliberately went through trails which have not been used by tourists at all. Through the most magnificent jungles, through paths which we had to make ourselves, through passes which look like frames from the movie The Lord of the Rings, through villages, which are one of the most backward places in the country. In fact we ended up staying the night in two villages on our way back.
We stayed, in the government schools of the villages and experienced some really warm hospitality. We ended up shooting some of the activities in such schools early in the morning when the children came in.
Setting up a whole camp (4 tents and a huge kitchen tent), unpacking all the stuff and equipment, start the cooking process, gather all the necessary stuff (fire-wood, water), pack and load all of this stuff back when we leave. . These were just few of the things which I experienced. I experienced them first hand, because I was not part of a trekking group. This was our group. We had to do everything for ourselves on our own. However, when you have such a brilliant support team with you, who do not allow you to even think of picking up an extra piece of luggage, your trek becomes a piece of cake.
This was an adventure where my eyes saw the most beautiful visuals they have ever seen, where I met some very very good human beings, saw magnificent terrains, walked for hours on trails just like the ones we used to draw when we were kids, climbed mountains on foot, witnessed some jaw-dropping clouds and their games at such high altitudes and had the chance to learn a lot of things from the villages and their way of lives. I know this is just a beginning of my adventures. The bar is set very high now. That’s the best part.