We left the hustle and bustle of Karnaprayag nice and early. Shared jeeps and lorries were loading up in the market. Lots of shouting out the destination they were heading. Shops, and chai stalls with steaming brews were getting started. Even the barber was busy. Another day was beginning. There was a lot of activity as we cycled out of town and followed the Pindar river up stream.
The Pindar is one of the source rivers of the Ganges and is fed from glaciers on the mountains of Nanda Devi and Trishul, some of the highest peaks in India. The road ran close to the turquoise turbulent water that was rushing over the rocks, the noise echoing round the steep rocky valley. The river was smaller now, but a lot steeper and faster as it cut into sometimes deep gorges.
Holy men pilgrims, with rough beards and matted wild hair, wearing orange robes, and carrying a small stainless steel pot for alms, and a knarled stick, make the journey following the Pindar, all the way to the glacier. In 2006 we trekked this same route with Becky and Katy when they were nine and seven years old. This Himalayan trek is on our website. People give the holy men food on the way and a lovely smiley holy man we met, and had a few exchanges with, was very happy with some biscuits. He was a very calm, and content man.
Our route climbed following the river closely. We met many road worker crews carrying out major works to the road. Large retaining walls were being built along with culverts and bridges, all by hand, groups of brightly dressed women with children and men who have come from poorer area like Bihar and western Nepal. We had many stops and chats with these road crews. They were warm, elegant looking, kind smiley people and we enjoyed our exchanges with them. They live in home made polythene camps by the roadside. Their jobs ranged from breaking rocks into tiny stones to mix with sand and cement to make concrete, which was mixed by hand with 2 people using one shovel, building retaining walls and earth moving. Large earth and rock moving was going on with machines as new sections of road were being cut into the mountain side.
These sections were hard going for us as the road was very rough, rocky and sometimes muddy too. Sometimes we were halted whilst bulldozers blocked the way whilst doing there work. While waiting we had good conversations with some young people about how India is progressing and developing well since the BJP party got into government in 2014. This party is very popular with the youth and has a much more dynamic and international approach compared to the Congress party that is favoured by the older people and had governed for a long time. It’s nice to see what is favoured by the young is in power and changing things for them.
Later in the day we started a long climb up out of the Pindar valley to Gwaldom high up on a ridge at an elevation of 6300 feet. It was a hard climb of 3600 feet, but we were rewarded by excellent views of the snow covered peaks of Nanda Devi and Trishul they were glistening in the sun against the clear blue sky.
It had been our best day so far on the trip, amazing scenery and great people we met.