Day 3 : DIDNA to ALI BUGYAL
TREK : 10.5 km
ALTITUDE : 8045 ft to 11320 ft
Bidding adieu to our gracious hosts, we set out for probably the most scenic route of the entire trek. We started the trail covering the village, and then on to a moderate ascend for about an hour, reaching a spot called Tolpani. At a height of around 1000ft above Didna, it is an open field with a cluster of huts belonging to the shepherds. We used the ground as our first pit stop for the day and refill our water bottles from the stream that passes through it.
The trail from this point was a beautiful but steep ascend through a Birch, Oak and Rhododendron forest. A trek of close to an hour, and we were right in the middle of a beautiful lush green meadow surrounded by a thick pine forest.
A beautiful spot indeed, it gave everybody a sign for the better things that lay ahead of us. The cameras were out and there was some great posing in the midst of this visual treat.
We walked further, for about an hour through one of the most stunning patch of dense forest I’ve ever come across. Piercing the haunting mist and constantly getting spell bounded by the sight of the forest playing hide n seek with the golden sun rays, we were at last face to face with the spectacular views of one of the most beautiful high altitude meadows in the world, Ali Bugyal.
The alpine meadow, located at an altitude of close to 11,000 ft, is a huge grazing ground for mules, horses and sheep of villagers living downhill.
Reaching atop, we were given some “me time” at the meadows. Just sitting there and looking at the never ending green lustrous fields itself relived me of all the pain of walking continuously for 4-5 hours. It was simply “magical”. I opened my packed lunch of masala aloo, paratha and boiled egg (at that time I felt that I had never eaten more delicious food ever in my life) and slowly finished it, gasping in the beautiful surroundings of Asia’s highest meadow.
Admiring the stunning views, we undertook a heavenly walk to cross to the other side of the bugyal, and arrived at one of the finest camping grounds with spectacular views of Ali Bugyal and Mt Trishul to set our base for the night. And yes… it was my first real experience of camping in wilderness! As soon we had reached the camp we were welcomed with hot tea, which was like an ‘amrit’ in the almost freezing temperature.
Hardik, our enthusiastic trek leader, took us for a wood picking trail for bonfire in the evening. This was basically a trick to acclimatize us with the thinning air and higher altitudes. Not to forget, each member of the group had to pass the mandatory test for optimum oxygen level and pulse rate for going further on the trek.
At our campsite, one could see horses roaming around in the pastures, which is a rare scene for the “civilized us”.
After dinner and bonfire we went to our respective camps and tussled with the sleeping bags (again a first experience) throughout the night. At first, I fond it difficult to adjust my sleeping habit in such a drastic change of abode. I could hear every kind of sound outside, hustling of tree leaves, whining wind, crawly insects and of course the thunderstorm!!! It rained profusely entire night to my agony. And guess what..I stayed up all night, twisting and turning in my sleeping bag, in excitement about the next day…