Skeleton Lake – Located in The Himalayas at an altitude of 5,029 meters, which is also known as the Hunters Crossend, Mystery Lake. Isn’t it a wonder of why this lake has got such crazy names!!! It is because, when the snow melts, human skeletal remaining are visible at the bottom of the lake. Now it sounds scary, right?
Though some spiritual theories makes this place “Do not Dare” to visit, the scientific theories attracts many trekkers to this lake who are crazy about mysterious places.
If you ask me, I wouldn’t ever dare to visit this place in my life; I think I make ghosts go mad 🙂 ; But let me introduce you to a dare devil, who has successfully completed his trek to this mysterious lake in the Himalayas. He is the temerarious, Anup Mahanta, from India.
Few Words About Anup: He is a techie, working for a software firm in Pune, can spend months together in mountains, crazy about trekking. You can contact him on Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions about his travels or you wish to join him on his treks.
So, here is how he narrates his trek to the Skeleton Lake, in his very own words.
Day –I, The Rendezvous Day: Haridwar,
Height above sea level: 314m
It started with a train journey from Dadar terminal, Mumbai to reach New Delhi and an onwards journey to Haridwar, where I had meet my four other trekking partners.
Day –II, The Base Camp, Loharjung,
Height above sea level: 2630m
We left Haridwar for Loharjung – our starting point for the trek, packing all our trek rations and logistics on to the prehired a 4*4 Maxx jeep at around 4am in the morning. We crossed and meandered through some high very rise mountain passes and innumerable river bridges on the way. The road trip was tiring. Found dozing off in the rear seat like others an easy option.
We reached our base camp Loharjung at around 7pm in the evening .There was a power cut in the village and the whole village seemed sleepy under the evening hue of sky .The night at those heights were dark and cold frosty breeze lashing our face made us to bring out our mufflers and monkey caps.
Our Guide welcomed us with a confident handshake instructed on the do’s and don’ts for the next day’s and advised us for having an early dinner and a good sleep. We were to start early the next day to reach Didina Village, our next stoppage.
Day –III, Homestay Villas Didina,
Height above sea level: 2725 m
The trek began and so does the enthusiasm among us for the trek. Left Loharjung base camp at around 8.15am, on a cold morning time. And off we went through the tough, rough and through the roads of village hinterland .Some hours later as the sun rose above forest cover, we all were tired and walking leisurely .And describing my state I was perspiring a lot and my rucksack felt too heavy. So I loaded my rucksack on to our hired mule to free myself.
Our Occasional stops turned out to be more frequent ones .The barren land and a gradual ascent started giving way to thick forest with thick foliage. It started getting more interesting with this changing landscape .There was so much of divine silence in those woods. Apart from our voices the only sound we heard was of our mules who were carrying our rations and stuffs, few wild asses, an occasional hoot of peacock and sound of a distant flowing stream. We stopped to drink water on an iron bridge with a huge waterfall in its background. The water was so cold but sweet that I filled myself with the elixir. The ascent started getting steeper and steeper after that bridge. Our guide said it’s will be more 2 hours climb from there to Didna village, our last stop of the day .We pressed forward after a while.
After crossing a small ledge that marked the start of Didna village we got to see the first house at Didna. From a distance the small village seemed beautiful, perched on the slopes of the high mountains. The houses were well marked and all seemed to have their terraced cut land. The farm land next to house was laden with paddy, gleaming with golden color under the evening sun .We reached our homestays which had a small clearing off the mountain patch and a beautiful garden in its front. Indeed a villa.
We were welcomed with some snacks and a cup of tea .The Sun was coming down. The home stay of ours had a nice vantage point with direct view of the Wan valley before us and a huge mountains with cloud shrouded tips. A satisfactory day came to an end.
Day –IV, The Leopard, Bedni
Height above sea level: 3354 m
We started from home stay at Didina around 8am, meandering through the mountain trails .Came across many small streams on route. I left some of my not so important stuffs like extra clothes and some dry fruits back at the Didna Guest house. It made my backpack little lighter and comfortable to carry .Soon we were cutting our way through Didina forest. Such was the thick forest covers above us that sometimes we could not even see the Sun. We all were dying to feel the warmth of the Sun . After some more 2-3 hours of ascent we could now see the Sun playing hide and seek with us through the tree cover.
Finally we reached the lower reaches of the grassland .Ali Bugyal( bugyal here means grasslands) , got us mesmerized both by its sheer size and beauty . We have left behind the tree line and sitting there on the grasslands of Ali Bugyal ,we could see the clear demarcation of the end of the tree line and the beginning of the grassland. Everywhere In all four direction, anywhere we ran your eyes we were able to see only the grasslands thick green in color and spell bound by the sheers beauty . Now it’s only we and the grasslands. The climate suddenly turned out to be cloudy and with the sun shying off behind the clouds.
We pushed ourselves further towards our third checkpoint called Bedni .By then we were dead tired and extremely hungry after crossing the bugyals .Few hours after the Sun seemed to have played enough hide and seek with us from behind the clouds . And it came out with its full glory, bestowing us with its warmth and light ,that we were dying for .We got some leisurely moments walking under the shining Sun . I guess that was the only place where we had taken a lot of pictures of us. Nowhere else we were so relaxed to stop and take so many group pictures.
Up ahead we saw a ‘Z’ shaped path which seemed to me like the mark of Zorro on a distant mountain. Again a steep climb to traverse it . We reached a temple which as per our Guide DevSingh marked the end of Ali Bugyal .The path ahead began for Bedni Bugyal .The trail to Bedni bugyal started to take lots of turns with some more gradual increase in ascent . After climbing the mark of Zorro, it was almost a plain walk till Bedni.
The time was around 4pm when we reached Bedni base camp. Here I witnessed the most unusual play of nature . Some hours back the Sky was literally burning with Sun and now it started snowing. The evening sun started giving way for moon but the snowfall never ceased. The night was unusually cold for us and the sudden snow shower furthered the effects of coldness .The temperature was near to 5-6 degrees. With yet again twist of climatic affair, It started to rain !!!! Sudden rainfall damped our further plans to do some night photography.
I do not remember the time , but it may be around 2am in the night , Abhijit suddenly shoved me to wake me up. He in a hushed tone said he has heard something scratching on our tents .
Initially I ignored , but when I heard some of this sound a sudden chill ran down my spine .We had heard that Leopards roam freely in these places.
Our minds got blanked out on the possibilities of a Leopard . Somehow we pulled our guts and we peeked outside by lightening our torches . Could see nothing ,only pitch dark landscape and a pair of glimmering eyes at a distance.
The rain became incessant and the deafening sound of the thunders suddenly went loud .Felt like ,lightning might have struck somewhere near to our place . Rain damped our tents mats and drop in temperature made the matter worst . Some hours went by .I felt tossed up and choked up. The whole night it was like raining cats and dogs . A lot of nature’s fury was seen in a single night. It was a difficult and a long night for us .
Day –V, The Story teller, Pathar Nachauni
Height above sea level: 3658 m
Don’t know when we got to sleep again ,but it was at around 6.30 am when our guide hurriedly woke us up. The rain had stopped, the dark clouds all gone and we woke to a clear sky .We had an amazing view of Mt. Trishul in front of us ,fully laden with fresh snowfall and looked too serene in its white drape of snow.
We wrapped up all our stuffs and got ready for our today’s 8 km trekking schedule. Everyday the trek seemed to get from tough to tougher. Everyday we crossed a big mountain only to see one more bigger mountain standing tall in front of us and challenging. We are there at a height of 4000m and we were anywhere 2 days away from the nearest village and civilization . The bitter fact was we had to push ourselves forward and returning back was not an option for us. The trek started taking a nasty turn, by becoming more tougher with each step. Laughing and admiring the nature’s canvas we finally reached our 3rd checkpoint base camp ,Pathar Nachauni.
We reached Pathar Nachauni at around 6.30 pm ,but the sun was still high in the sky .And the weather was still the same ,dry and chilling with intermittent snowfall .After pitching up our tents we got some time to capture some nice evening time snaps of the sky and got time to mingle with other trekking groups halting there at those big forest houses set up by the forest department . It was totally an absorbing experience, all sitting cozily around bon fire ,sipping hot tea under the night sky lit with innumerable stars and enjoying the lullaby stories involving stories of some Raja maharajas.
Day –VI, The Summit Day, Roopkund Lake / Skeleton Lake,
Height above sea level: 5029 m
Our final day of our attempt to reach the summits of Roopkund Lake . With great anticipation for the D-Day, I slept a rather uneasy night. And as planned we woke up at 3 AM .Still felt sleepy and all the cold made me lazy and hasty. We all were walking with ease as we knew today to be the longest and the most arduous from rest of the day.
We reached Buguwasa base camp at 6.45 AM. The tempt to attempt the summit in a single day made us to skip Buguwasa Camp .Otherwise it is advisable to spend a night at Buguwasa for acclimatization and then try for Junargali pass and Roopkund lake the next day.
In the horizon I could see the sun rising slowly . The feel of warmth took some tension and fatigue ness off my head .From a ledge just after crossing the Buguwasa advance base camp site we witnessed the vastness and enormity of the Himalayan ranges The full view of the mighty Himalayan ranges was right before us ,snow draped and so serene. We took time off by just standing and staring the heavenly view before us . We pressed on after some time.
Halfway up just below 500m from the summit the weather started to get nasty .The wind speed increased and it started to snow again . Seeing the weatherman starting to play his part .We were in such a spot where we cannot think of backing off . IT was impossible to descend down and only way was up . Ranjan and me decided the obvious to push ourselves harder even if the weather turns hostile. Each step had to be put very carefully . One single wrong step and we both would have gone down rolling some 1000mts.
Keeping ourselves focused ,motivated and encouraging each other we somehow reached to the most difficult and the most challenging part of our ascent (the last 100fts). The trail further up was all lost due to the fresh snowfall .Using Ice axe and crampons proceeded Inch by inch .The advance party who had already summited brought down some ropes . We tied ourselves to those and they supported us in our push for the summit.
Finally we summited at 1.35 pm . So elated and so breathless I could not describe that state of mine. After the congratulatory handshake with other trekkers ,I just sat there on a small rocky patch. The Roopkund lake was before us, gleamy under the white sun above. It was still snowing and the landscape as far as I can see was white & heavenly. Sitting silently on a rocky patch looked away towards the distant meadows and the world far off. Then we finally attempted Junargali Pass. From the heights of Junargali pass the world seemed so divine & so surreal. Just speechless! I could clearly see ,the distant snow clad mountain ranges appearing like rows of half open ,white lotus buds and slowly melting away from views in the mist and cloud ,sometimes there were vast stretches of green valleys and flowing streams of molten silver water and sometimes it looked like an white ocean . I got lost in that heavenly sight before me .So lost in the beauty and serenity of the place that uncontrollable tears started flowing from my eyes. The feeling and the rush was just overwhelming . We thanked our guides Laxman ,Dev Singh for assisting us to reach the summit We congratulated and hugged everyone else in our team .The next 30 minutes were time for clicking pics ,a lot of pics.
NOTE- This is not a sponsored post. I love to write stories about people who inspire me 🙂