Monsoon is that time of the year when we prefer to sit at home with a cup of tea and often avoid travelling. But one place that opens during monsoon and tourists visit in droves is Valley of flowers (VOF) in Uttarakhand. The views were indeed fascinating and we longed for a trek to heaven.
We had heard from that it is a pretty easy trek and were eagerly waiting to explore this unmatched heaven. After procrastinating the trip for three years in a row, we finally executed the plan this year.
Reaching the valley is again a humongous task and we will talk about it in other post. Cut to the park, travellers keep asking where is the exact point in the valley. But there is no such point as the ultimate destination. Each point is beautiful and offers captivating views. Just take a deep breath, listen to the music of rivers or see the lavish greenery dotted with little flowers and this would be an experience of your lifetime.
We met a restless cute little husky pup waiting with his owner near the ticket window. The friendly pup wagged his tail on seeing strangers and let everyone pat him. Kiara was the bonus of our trip.
Here is the route to follow:
Walk few meters to the ticket counter-a two kilometers stretch-a large boulder saying “Valley of Flowers starts here”-8 km walk till the grave.
After you buy the tickets and start walking, the forest seems to draw you in its arms. Every turn had something new to show. We watched water droplets dripping from leaves, the fallen branches of old trees, rare birds perched on tree tops, colorful butterflies and little streams meeting the fierce river as the fragrance of flowers intoxicated us.
The trek is moderate and more than moderate are the interesting stories, at times scary, at times exciting and and even funny. There you see an old bridge which was destroyed in the 2013 floods or hear tales from a toiling pitthu about past mishaps. A tree with rare flowers or thundering clouds would often grab your attention. The landscapes change from sea green and yellow to white and amber.
As we ascended to higher altitude, we felt the pressure weighing on chest but the traveler within us inspired us to keep moving. We took short breaks in between to catch upon our breath but would end up filming the location. The most exciting one was while crossing a glacier.
We were fortunate to not face heavy rainfall that day. We tread amid light drizzle and foggy sky. When the fog cleared to reveal breathtaking mountain views, it seemed nature smiled at us. We felt blessed.
The first two kilometers of uneven path, slippery in few places, has a glacier, rivers and temporary bridges on the way; enough to stun you and give you plenty of photo opportunities.
Once you cross a small temporary bridge, you will reach a large boulder painted with these words – “Valley of flowers starts here”. Past this landmark point the paths are flat and pretty easy to walk on.
The velvety stretch of flowers and the mesmerizing view brought me to tears. Imbibing the peace, I sat down to meditate. VOF inspired me settle there and teach yoga for a living.
Well, this landmark stone, for some is the end of the trek while for some it is an urge to explore further. The path of eight kilometers ahead leads to the grave of Miss Leggy. With less time in hand, we had to give the grave a miss. Embracing every bit of nature, we headed back, with fresh air in lungs and memories in heart.
On the way back, we chatted briefly with the guards at the ticket counter who narrated their experiences with us. Their stories ranged from a man trapped in the valley to attack of wild bear, creating unforgettable memoirs for us. The valley opens each in June and closes in October before snowfall.
Essentials to carry inside the park:
-Enough drinking water, raincoat, walking stick, knife/pepper spray (just in case), some edible, preferably energy bars or dry snacks, a small first aid kit, extra socks (if one pair gets wet).
-Apply mosquito repellent cream on exposed body parts.
-Carry a sweatshirt or windcheater which you can easily take off if feeling warm and put on if cold.
Some tips to prepare for the trek:
-Prepare yourself for the high altitude trek atleast two months in advance. Jogging, body weight exercises or yoga would build your stamina, lung capacity and leg muscles.
-Everything can go a waste if you ignore shoes. They should be sturdy but not heavy. Go for soles that offer traction. Walking in slippers in VOF is a big NO.
-Investing in a good trekking bag would be a good idea. Not an expensive one, but something that packs your things compactly. Do not make it too heavy.
How are you expected to behave:
-Be patient. Enjoy the journey. Hurry to reach the end point will only kill the joy of the trek.
-Do not rush when it rains. Stay at one place and move only if it feels safe. Getting angry when it rains will not help you anyway. You must be prepared for downpour any moment.
-We saw plastic bottles, polybags, wrappers of chips, biscuits, tobacco, cigarettes, and lot more, peeping from bushes. Kindly help in keeping the park clean. If you are carrying one-time use bottles or plastic wrapped eatables, bring them back. This is the least you can do for the environment.