This year I decided to check one of my top bucket list treks the Valley of Flowers. After two Himalayan treks in Himachal, I decided to move towards its neighboring state Uttarakhand. While I was at it, I even took some time out to travel and explore places around. This time I choose to join Trek the Himalayas since their timings were suiting me fine.
To reach our first base camp, we had to travel from Haridwar to Joshimath, which was about 309 kms away. The ride itself was quite adventurous since it was raining, and landslides seemed to be common throughout the area. I was first petrified by the thought of a landslide, but locals took it so casually that even I started to soak myself in the nature around when we were stuck in traffic. Either the Ganges or its tributaries were flowing throughout this route and during the trek.
After relishing a piping hot breakfast and a good nights rest, I was all set to start the hike the next day. We were taken to Govind Ghat from where we had another pickup van to Pulna (6800 ft). From here we slowly started ascending towards Ghangaria, which was 9 kms away at 9600 ft. We were welcome with rains throughout the route. After reaching Ghangaria, I went out to have some mouth-watering snacks around with few fellow trekkers.
The next day we were all set to trek towards the alpine valley witnessing a number of species of flora en route. Our guide was kind enough to explain the name and use of each unique specimen. This trek felt more like a biology class. It had been so long since I had heard the scientific names of flowers. The entrance to the valley was at 11,500 ft, 4 kms away from Ghangaria. We decided to walk 3-4 kms further into the valley and watch it unveil its picturesque beauty.
The third day was the most challenging part of the trek. We had to climb 4300 ft uphill to Hemkund. Since I was visiting the Sikh shrine, I made sure I took a longer bath, although getting hot water was a challenge. I ended up starting pretty late, although I made up for it when I quickly ascended uphill and joined my new friends, who were one of the first ones to start their trek. Later, it got sunny and I increased my speed further at the final steep staircase and made it to the Gurudwara at 14,107 ft and 6km away.
Sitting by the waterscape at the Hemkund lake was such a bliss, although the view got covered by fog by the time I could click the picture above. It was one of the most magnificent sceneries I had seen throughout the trek. We also caught sight of a number of flowers on the way, including Bramhakamal (above), the state flower of Uttarakhand, found at higher altitudes. After having a delectable meal at the Hemkund Sahib we started descending down back to Ghangaria, once again witnessing the view and waterfalls enroute.
On the fourth day, we were finally going complete over 40 kms of our trek. By this point, I started missing home. Later, I joined fellow trekkers in the group, and I forgot about my homesickness. Instead, I decided to enjoy the scenery around one last time, and I just couldn’t get enough of it.
By the time we reached Govindghat the sky was pretty clear, and we boarded the cab to Badrinath. The ride to Badrinath was like one of those roller coaster adventure games in real life. There were challenges in between like loose stones that seemed like they could fall onto the vehicle, waterfalls that were flowing heavily on the road into the river, etc. But once we made it past the rough patch the road was peaceful and serene. We spent some time at the temple and made it back to Joshimath. Since it was the last day, I decided to explore Joshimath as well in the evening.
This trek is a perfect start for a newbie trekker. Although for an experienced trekker, it could be rather disappointing since the path has been paved, and its not muddy and natural like one would expect. I also found the mules carrying people around quite disturbing. Nevertheless, if you want to experience the beauty around its totally worth your time. Happy trekking and do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.