Notes to a 20yr older me.
Day 3: Munsiyari – Tejam – Kapkot – Bageshwar – Gwaldum – 175Km
I wasn’t one to make the same mistake twice. I ended up waking up long before I should have. As it started getting brighter I headed out. Realizing that the key was missing, I picked up the spare key hoping to find the other one later
Rather than go to the Nanda Devi temple, I decided to go to a nearby school ground to get some clear views.The school is at a higher altitude than the temple and it would allow me to take the picture of the bike along with the peaks.
The cold was bitter and somewhat freezing. The short ride to the school chilled me to the bone. Trying to operate the camera with gloves on, made me realize the value of physical buttons and ergonomics of camera. G1XMk2 while not perfect is still quite usable with gloves on.
After spending a cold hour I returned to the guesthouse.
First I searched for the key. After searching everywhere, I gave it up for lost. I then packed and went down for breakfast. Again the breakfast at the KMVN guesthouse is a blessing. After a hearty breakfast of bread, puri and omelet, I went to check out.
And there at the counter was my keys. I probably dropped it when I returned from the market on the previous day. Fortunately it was found by someone and left at the counter.
Leaving the guesthouse, I took it easy till the Balati Potato Farm. The morning was bright and the view splendid.
I quickened the pace after that. I was to reach Gwaldum before sunset.
At Tejam, I turned right towards Kapkot hoping for a shorter route to Bageshwar. The road first descends to Ramganga river and then climbs up. The road condition also worsened and at places the road was non-existent.Two years ago the road was the same. In the hills progress slows down to snail’s pace.
This was the time to dig in and harden my butt for the bumpy ride. I mostly focused on the road, stopping little for pictures or other things.
After climbing out of Ramganga river valley, I took a short break for tea and couple of chocolates. The road then descends through some excellent jungle to Kapkot. From Kapkot, it mostly follows the Saryu river to Bageshwar. There are some excellent pine jungles on the way which are heavenly to ride through.
Post Bageshwar the road is much better and also well paved. The road follows the Gomti river up the Bageshwar valley to Baijnath. During the monsoons the valley is completely green. A lovely sight to behold.
At Baijnath, I turned right to climb towards Gwaldum. The road continues to stay good and quite wide. Gwaldum is situated on the border of Kumaon and Gharwal. It offers some awesome view of the Trishul peaks.
This was my fourth visit to Gwaldum. The first time was in 1991 when I was with a group of friends returning from Chamoli. Though it was just a pass-by visit, I was mesmerized by the proximity to Trishul peaks. The second was with Deep after Vishal’s marriage. The third was while returning from Badrinath. Given how much I like the place, there will be many more in the next 20 yrs.
Finding accommodation at Gwaldum was easy. There is a GMVN guesthouse which was empty and I took a room as the only resident for the night. Unfortunately the kitchen was closed. But the town was just below the guesthouse, so food should not have been a problem or that’s what I thought.
But first I left my luggage in the room and headed a little out-of-town to photograph the sunset. The luggage had to be carried up to the guesthouse as there is not way for vehicles to get to the guesthouse.
On the Gharwal side of Gwaldum, if you go past the town, there are some excellent spots which give very clear view of the Himalayas. While buildings have started coming up in the area, the view is still unrestricted. This town will surely be very different in 20 yrs.
After I returned to the room, I relaxed for a while. Around 1930, I stepped out for dinner. To my surprise the whole town was shut. No shops were open. The only thing stirring were strays who gave me a wary eye. After walking through the length of main street, which was about a Km long, I found a small joint serving food to the overnight bus and sumo drivers. Glad to find something, I dug in and had a good meal of rice and dal.
Back in the room, there was nothing else to do other than sleep. After making sure to set the alarm, I was soon in deep sleep.