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2009- First Himalayan Experience- The Uttarkashi Trek

In June 2009, I participated in a Himalayan trek in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand. We had a team of about 32 colleagues, sponsored by our company, but organized by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF). We reached from Jamshedpur (Tatanagar) to Haridwar in Kalinga Utkal Express, stayed a night there. Next day, it was 10hrs journey (180km) in the mountains of Garhwal Himalayas. The base camp was located in Uttarkashi beside the river Asiganga.

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Here is a brief summary of the activities during the 10 days program:

1st Day: Arriving at the base camp 4000 ft above the sea level near the river Asi Ganga. All of the participants erected their tents and beds. The use of temporary toilets, bringing water from the river and how to find and use other daily needs were instructed. The essential trekking items like a rucksack bag, a tiffin box, winter jackets, woolen caps, hand gloves, a small sleeping mattress etc each were issued to all of us, but these items were to be returned to them after finishing the program.

2nd Day: Debriefing delivered by the program instructors. Daily morning activities, PT class, physical exercise, games, river crossing by rope, rock climbing etc.

3rd Day: Daily morning physical activities were common in all the first 5 days. Afterwards, some games were played. In the evening a short movie about the Bachendri Pal’s Everest climbing was shown to all of us. The movie contained real trekking videos and was narrated by the famous Bollywood actor Nasiruddin Shah. We also asked many questions about her Everest Trek in 1983.

4th Day: Jungle Camp– We went for a one night jungle camp at at some height above the base camp. It was actually a preparation for the final trek to the Surya Top at 13,500 feet above the sea level. At this jungle camp, we did everything by ourselves- from camp erecting to cooking the meal. The most interesting thing was that we were taught how to survive on Maggie noodles!

5th Day: It was out last day at the base camp. We visited a local village and met with the villagers, their children. The ultra simplicity of residents of such rural hilly region of Uttrakhand really impressed us. Next day, we had to depart for the final trek to the Surya Top peak. So, all the packing was started.

6th Day: The final trek was started from the Sangam Chatti point.

7th to 10th Day: The 5 days final trek was completed on 10th Day passing through a number of peaks, grass lands, villages, bugyals and meadows. Each day we trekked in the first half of the day upto 4pm, found the night stay point and erected the tents there. The food was being prepared by the TSAF team, we no longer needed to cook ourselves.

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On the last day, we departed back to Haridwar, again a 8 hrs road journey, afterwards, next morning, the last leg of the journey was the train from Haridwar to Tatanagar (Jamshedpur).

However, during the whole trek, we couldn’t met with snow anywhere as it was a peak summer month. A team who came in March just before us, found a lot of snow. It was somewhat disappointing for us.

The very special about this trek was that Mrs Bachendri Pal, the first woman to climb the mount Everest, was our mentor. The whole program was of 10 days duration, but actual trek was only of 5 days, initial 5 days were only for base camp activities.

After 10 years of this journey, the memories are still stronger, but however, I could not make it documented that time. It was my first Himalayan experience, first time I saw the hilly, curvy roads, turbulent rivers, glaciers, snow, meadows, flora and fauna of mountains and life on such heights. This trek imposed a substantial impact on our mind, tested our limits, surpassed the comfort zones, overall this first meeting with the great Himalayas taught us a variety of lessons.

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