Nanda Devi

'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
John H.Eickert

Her father was murdered and she fled. At long last, high in the mountains, she found sanctuary and stayed. In time, the beautiful white, mountain was named for her, the Blessed Goddess, Nanda Devi. The Garhwal area of India holds some of the finest high altitude trekking in the world. Nearing the end of the third day of my trek into the Nanda Devi Sanctuary the roar from the Rishi Gorge filled the air. The endlessly steep trail makes a wide diversion to the north of this great gorge through rhododendron and deodar trees. The lucky trekker might see blue sheep or musk deer along the track. At an early morning river crossing one of the porters led me to a feline pugmark in the river sand. It could only have been made by a snow leopard. So close! Maybe, someday! The trek into Nanda Devi base camp from the west begins in the small village of Lata. A strong trekking team can reach base camp in five to six days.

The camps are named Lata Kharak, Dubrugetha, Ramni, river crossing, and base camp. It is not an easy approach, but well worth it. At base camp, soaring peaks and glistening glaciers surround you. 7816-meter Nanda Devi dominates the skyline just north of base camp. The air is fresh and brisk. A steady breeze seems to blow at all times. The return trek to Lata is almost as testing as the trek in, but relief can be found at Tapoban hot springs south of Lata along the road from Joshimath. From the hot springs there is another track heading south and over Kuari Pass. I have not been over this pass and so, hope to return one day. It would be wonderful to be in the Garhwal during the pre-monsoon when the spectacular rhododendrons are blooming.

Adventures in this area of Uttar Pradesh province begin in Srinagar, which is accessible from Delhi by bus. From Srinagar then take another bus to Joshimath. Joshimath is a fine little village to hire porters and prepare for your trek. The view of Dunagiri from Lata is magnificent and perhaps a bit intimidating.

Indeed, this entire area is rich in trekking opportunities and Hindu mythology. An avid adventurer could spend a lifetime here. I spent several months and left with a strong yearning to return. In the months ahead, I will recount adventures to Shivling, the Valley of Flowers, and the epic Milam valley trek. If there were only time to do them all again! There are over a dozen ancient Hindu temples in this area, north of Joshimath lies Badrinath and the ancient trade route to Tibet. If you can remember from a previous adventure, the Garhwal is also the source of the Ganges, the most holy of rivers. The fall trekking season is upon us and I hope everyone has the chance to get out, take the time, and then take your time. Good adventuring! Cheers.

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