Subhai Village to Tungnath and back down to Rishikesh Ch.12

The morning following our temple escapade we played a lot chess and ate a lot of food. That afternoon we reluctantly collected our belongings. When we were packed and the room was tidy we tried our best to express our gratitude to the family who had been housing and feeding us.

We arrived at the bikes a little more sweaty and knee sore. I would have to say I prefer trekking up then coming down. We took a short rest before motoring off once again. It was dark by the time we pulled up to a lonely hotel about an hour and half from Chopta. We ate in the nearest village and tried to get as much rest as we could. It was to be an early morning the next day as we were trying to beat the sun to the top of the mountain.

A half hour behind schedule we piled onto the bikes in the morning darkness. Nitin promised that this was to be the most blessedly beautiful bike ride we had enjoyed. We wholeheartedly agreed.

The sun rose as we walked up the mountain path to Tugnath and beyond.

The largest peak in the background is Kedarnath.

Thanks for the new profile picture boss! Killed it.

I had some good fun getting a couple shots of Q with different exposure time.

The peaks left to right; Thaley Sagar, Kedardome, Kedarnath, Mandana

We realised we should maybe pick up the pace a little if we wanted to be faster than clouds moving in. We had to start to fight the urge to pause every few feet to take photos; it seemed as though every leaf and every view was more picturesque than the last.

Thankfully this urge was not always overcome.

3650m

Many people were milling around Tungnath and the surrounding shrines. To walk freely through the space and enter the temple you are asked to remove your footwear. Although I took a photo from the exterior, out of consideration I decided against taking any once I had entered. As I explored the area I heard only the wind and whispers of thanks.

As I laced up my boots I wondered what the air would taste like at the top.

The air was thin, it seemed to cut our lungs with crystal transparency.

4400m

Two Himalayan Griffons toar into our sights from our right. I’ve rarely been so mesmerised.

They circled the valley several moments before soaring high above us.

They looked like small fighter jets roaring soundlessly through the clouds.

They eventually reached such heights that they disappeared completely from view.

A few hours after we’d reached the top we had sufficiently exhausted our supplies of snacks and water and our thoughts wandered to the walk back. We did not rush, as we all wanted to savour our time there as long as we could.

Just a few hundred metres in elevation from the top a monkey exploring the mountainside

Just a few hundred metres in elevation from the top a monkey exploring the mountainside

3700m

The colours of what grew at such high altitude was astounding.

I poked my head in one of the buildings surrounding Tungnath and noticed a creature I could not quite recognise as a mouse, a rabbit or chipmunk. We stopped for a some aloo paratha and greens at a small kitchen before continuing on.

The valley floor grew closer and the air became warmer more humid.

My mind felt clear as I emerged from the dream like state of the descend.

We spent a short time in Chopta upon our return to determine where we were to sleep that night. We decided on Sari village a short drive away.

We slept at cheap hotel with some delicious food. We had a relaxed morning before beginning the long ride back to Rishikesh. On the ride back we really noticed the change in the cloud movement and density. The dust clung to hill sides along the construction sites and the air seemed too thick. In the 6 days since driving these roads, huge sections of previously rocky dirt road had been repaved with fresh asphalt. I understand the highway improvement is a part of the relatively new administrations investments in northern infrastructure. The last hours of our journey in the now dark landscape it felt as if we were coming home. The lay my head to rest, satisfied.

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