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Milam Story Part I

Milam Glacier Trek
Part I

This turned out to be the wettest, though not the coldest landing at Bageshwar. As the bus coming down from Gwaldam went to Garur to drop some passengers, I was bit worried about the rain. What I encountered at Bageshwar was nothing short of hell. The bus stopped at the Bus stand and passengers started   to get down, but where, it was raining like there would be no next time and the streets were all covered by water. No coolie or cycle rickshaw  was in site. It seemed all had secured for the day.

I jumped out of the bus with my bags and ran for the nearest sheltered spot. This dash itself left me half soaked. I waited for some time and once it was confirmed that the coolies and rickshaws were not available, I put on my rain gear and picked up all the three bags I was carrying and started to walk towards the KMVN's TRH. Water was pouring like anything and there was no way I could save the stuff in the rucksack from getting wet. Walking in nearly ankle deep water I crossed the bridge over the Gomati river which was full and flowing with great speed. The electricity cut added to the misery of walking the dirty streets. The TRH also seemed far away and once I wondered whether I had taken the right route or not. Once under the portico of the TRH, I was relieved of the misery and as soon as I moved into the room I opened up the sacks to spread the wet clothes for drying.

Next day dawned clear and after a round of the temples of Bageshwar I took the bus towards Pithoragarh. A change of taxi at Thal and by 1730 I was at my room in Pithoragarh. Well, I was impressed by Pithoragarh. As rest of the team was arriving a day latter I decided to spend a day at the place and visit the famous Fort which was built by the Gurkha's, when they had invaded the Kumaon and Garhwal in the 18th century. The Fort offers a vintage view of the town and surrounding areas. I thought of visiting the Nepal border which is not very far but had to drop the idea, as there was news of blocked road due to a big landslide. The news was not particularly bad but in general it was. The previous few days rain had caused much damage in the hills and the area we were moving to was one which gets affected by rains and the consequent landslides. Anyway we left Pithoragarh and reached Munsiyari, where we came to know that the way to Lilam had been hit by landslides. The good news was that in a day it was supposed to be repaired by PWD workers.

Most of the valleys in this area are leading towards Tibet and as such one requires permit from the SDM's of the area to visit them. The permit for Milam also needs to be shown to the ITBP post at Munsiyari and then at the other posts on the way. Having completed the formalities we were ready to move. By evening we got the news of the opening of the route to Lilam, but most of the people at Munsiyari were skeptical of our reaching the Milam glacier due to heavy snowfall. We decided to move on the trail and to see the things for ourselves.  

The trek passes the town and goes all the way down to the Goriganga river flowing in the valley below. However, the first part of the trek can be avoided by taking a taxi ride till Selapani, thus saving the trod of nearly seven km. Three of us reached the road head by 1030 hrs but could not proceed further as Pande was left behind at Munsiyari bus stand. We waited at the tea shop having tea and making small talk with the persons sitting there. An explosive van stood there and on enquire it was reveled that survey work for two major hydro electric works was in progress and for that the explosives are brought to the road head in the van. In future chances are that the trail will get converted into a road. It took Pande one hour to reach where we were sitting and thereafter we shouldered our packs and left. The packs were heavy as each of us carried four days ration, just in case we were lucky.

The initial walk was on the road and then we took the path leading to the first village. Goriganga was flowing down in the valley and we were yet quite high. We walked fast as the trail was moving down and in no time we were walking through the village. But without stopping there we moved on. Slowly the sun beating on us took charge and we felt the heat of the trail. Crossing another village we reached the nala coming from our left and across it was a big bridge, which was the Jimmy ghat. Across it I found two trails going either way. I took the right one and moved on the trail now going along the Goriganga river. The left trail I was later told went to a village. The trail now climbed up slowly and we reached the section where landslide had damaged the trail. the PWD workers were at work to restore the path so that mules do not have any problem. The workers were moving big long tree trunks onto the damaged section and so we waited for their clearance to cross the section. It was all hard work at a tricky place as a slip would have ended in the fast flowing river down below. Thanks to the workers we were moving over a good and well maintained path. Further trod brought us to a hotel and a junction. The trail going down to the river on our right was the one for the Ralam valley across the river and on the other side of the ridge. We continued on the right bank of the river and steeply climbing up reached the PWD rest house of Lilam. A hotel, temple and barracks completed the place. High on the opposite side was the village of Paton through which passes the path to Ralam valley. Lowering our packs we realised that though the walk had been small one, the sun had taken the juice out. The four beds at the guest house were welcome as was the tea and water from the hotel. A new building is coming up and is KMVN's tourist rest house. There is nothing much to do except laze around and we did exactly that. The night passed off comfortably.

It dawned clear and we left the place after breakfast. Initially the trail climbed up steeply and then it leveled off. Twisting and turning the trail moved high above the river and as we turned a corner it came into site. A massive water fall was right on the trail or you can say the trail passed through it. Well there is no way one can avoid the water and I just do not know what must be happening during the rains. Efforts have been made by the PWD to provide some shelter by placing tin shits over the angle iron lengths but they are giving way due to the sheer power of water. With no choice but to enter it we took out our rain gear and then entered the fall one at a time and hoping that no stone falls during the time of our passage. The water some how found way to enter in though only slightly, with the shoes being wet to the core. The entering, vanishing and emergence of a member on the other side of the fall was a scene to be captured on video. It was some thing we had not seen anywhere else. The trail on the other side was again good and slowly made its way to a tea shop. We continued on our way and now walked on the trail moving along the frothing and foaming Goriganga. One can feel the power of water from the trail itself. The trail was easy and climbed up at a gentle pace. It passed through massive stones on either side which covered it totally and then rounding a corner we came to the junction of Ralam nala with Goriganga. The Ralam nala was full of water and was coming down at very steep angle. The trail moved through the jungle and was enjoyable. A group of sixteen labourers was moving a part of a diesel engine which was nearly 300 kg. It was hanged from a log and this log had four cross logs which were shouldered by eight labourers with the rest taking care of the ones carrying the load. Every few meters the roles reversed and in this way the item moved ahead. I took their photos as this is the way people are taking the items required for the hydro electric stations survey to the locations in the hinterland. Few years latter no one would even thing of all this. A flat section was followed by steep climb and then again the trail leveled off and finally in the distance a few huts came into site under a cliff. The Rargari Udiyar was in front and we stopped there for some food and tea. Goriganga was flowing with its usual energy as we set next to the tin boxes containing samples of the rock drilled out from the survey sites. These were being transported to the labs in the plains for study. Well, lots of heavy load carrying.

The trail moved just next to the river and again the destruction caused by the resent  rains came in to view. The PWD was tirelessly  at work restoring the bridge over a stream which was coming down to join Gori from our left. Two labourers were cutting a big stone into smaller flat pieces using hammer and chisels. It took them ten minutes to cut it into a flat piece. This must have been the way in the ancient times also. We crossed over a makeshift bridge and continued on our way. The path was well made and we made good progress. As we walked we crossed a lots of heavy engine parts which had been brought to the place with massive effort. The slow climb continued and passed through dense jungle. Sun was on our back with all its might and so now and then stopping in the shade we made our way up. At one place the trail passed over a sheer rock face, but we did not face any problems as, PWD had made a good path on the rock. What a way, they first hammered in big iron pegs into the rock and then filled it with boulders and mud so that the end result was a good flat path across the rock face. Laden horses passed us on the way to Milam. We were carrying a bit more weight and so were tired. As we turned a corner, the valley opened up a bit and with it we reached Bog Udiyar. Again the PWD rest house was our shelter for the night with a KMVN's tourist guest house under construction. It seemed to be a pleasant place but soon we came to realise that it had turned into big mess one winter when an avalanche had hit the camp and killed many. Suddenly we were aware of the high steep mountain slope on which the place stood. Looking up and a bit left we could see a steep trail going towards the Poting glacier, may be some other day we shall move on it.

As had become the trend for this trek our Rambo was up and about before the sun stuck the camp and we had no choice but to follow him. Dewan waited for me to get ready and shortly thereafter he too shot off like an arrow. I walked slowly and crossed the bridge over the nala coming from Poting glacier from where one gets good view of the place. I moved along the well made path trying to beat the cold in my T-shirt. Fifty minutes latter I reached the steps which climbed to the top where I could see sun light. As I was cold it was a welcome sight and brought warmth. The climb was steep and it took nearly twenty minutes to finish it and there stood this hut which served as a tea shop come hotel. As I was reaching the place others were leaving but I did not follow them immediately as some hot tea and biscuits were in order. I lowered the sack and entered the hut. Well what a relief. After two cups of tea, a packet of biscuits and chatting with the hotel owner and the bakriwala, I was ready to move. Lifting the heavy bag I left the place as the sun reached it. A small climb later I had the birds eye view of the Gori flowing down below through the gorge. The trail passed below the high cliffs on the right bank of the river. There was a small temple dedicated to the Nanda Devi and paying my due respect I moved along the level trail. There was a camping ground above the river on the left bank but I could not see any way to that place or I was not much interested as I had a long way to go in front. The trail now started to rise, though slowly. A flock of sheep's was coming down for the winter and the Shepard fanatically gestured me to leave the trail so that the sheep could carry on without fear. I climbed up and the sheep passed by, some of them carrying loads on their backs. The trail was again silent and I continued on my way.

A look behind reveled snaking trail along the mountain slope and the river flowing down. Ahead a snow covered peak was coming in to view. The trail now climbed up more steeply and then there was a section where it made its way up quite steeply. Again a shout stopped me in my track as horses were making their way down this narrow section and it was better to climb up after they had passed. Gained some of the lost breath and climbed up the steep section which was again followed by a trail which went down all the way to a hut in the center of the section. A camp was seen down below. I was crossing the Mapang and it was the camp of the Hydro Power survey team. What will happen to these trails God only knows. The drop was followed by a climb up and then a level trail greeted me. Quite a relief, but these relief's are short in mountains and today was not an exception. Turning around the corner I reached a nala coming from left and its crystal clear waters joined the murky waters of Gori. This was the Pabadli gad and the Laspa village could be reached by a good climb, for which I had no inclination. A steep drop took me to the log bridge over the nala and I saw Pande who was getting up to leave. A short break latter I also joined him. The trail after climbing again split into two, with one climbing up in a zigzag way and the other going straight. Luckily we were met by a person coming down who asked as to why we were moving without a guide and then told us to take the upper trail as the one going straight was damaged though both went to the same place. I took the upper one and Pande went the lower way. Climb up took out the remaining strength and quite tired I reached the trail on top which was now more or less level. Down below a bakriwala had his camp and his goat were there, through which Pande climbed up. He told that a small section was broken but did not pose much problem to him. We moved together and down below the Gori flowed calmly. Continuing on the good trail above the right bank of the river we inched towards Rilkot. Finally, we came to a nala flowing from our left and crossing it over boulders we were on the other side. A short climb and the Rilkot came into view.


Milam Top Story Second Part

Milam Photos Part I

Milam Photos Part II

Milam Photos Part III

Milam Photos Part IV

Milam Trek Plan



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Published on: 2009-05-12 (2655 reads)

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