I woke up quite early as I had slept very early. In winters, day are quite short and in mountainous region, as soon as the sun goes behind them, it starts to get dark.
So, if you have not sorted out your evening plans, there is no other option than to sleep, if only you have completed your other remaining activities.
My camera was there at the rooftop, bearing the harsh winters conditions the whole night. It was also one of the reason for me to get up early and check on it. It was all safe and sound which internally made me heave a sigh of relief.
The weather was too cloudy that day and the sun still had to come up. The time was around 7:15am. The owner too was sleeping and it looked like the whole town was doing the same. Till now, being a winter season, it hadn’t shown any signs of snowfall. But, now seeing the clouds moving up north, I had a strong gut feeling that soon it would start snowing somewhere or the other. The movement of the clouds had a typical motion to it, like all of them moving in a steady pace.
I just had to change the camera battery and I began my daily routine of filming the place. Just like yesterday’s sunset, I wanted to capture the sunrise too!
I set my camera on its path and I sat there almost like in a meditative pose gazing at the vast expanse of the clouds. It was such an epiphany moment for me and along with that I had to bear the morning cold too!
As I lay beside my camera waiting to shoot the rising Sun, I wanted to shoot the same with my naked eyes. How ironical!
The place was complete peace, with sounds of birds chirping every now and then and the melody just hitting your earbuds.
A complete review of the hostel can be found below in my attached YouTube link.
After a while, when things got warmed up a little bit, I had my morning coffee with snow clad mountains never leaving my eyesight. With just me and mountains and no else, I really didn’t knew how time flew by. For long, I and the mountains were having a secret telepathy discussion. For I, describing about my world and the Mountains theirs. Deep down, I knew that my relationship with the mountains goes a long way.
By now, the sun had come up nicely and the cold had slowly started to melt away. I did not realize but the time was way past 9 am. I shut off my DLSR and went down to freshen up myself. I spoke with the owner that I would be having a simple breakfast of toast and omelette along with tea.
The breakfast was served by the time I came out locking my room after setting up the things. We both had breakfast inside his beautifully decorated cafe. A perfect ‘Travelers Cafe’, I should say. One can sit there for hours just like that gazing out at the mountains from the window or with a book in hand. Oh! yeah, I forget to tell. They have some awesome collection of travel related books. And they also have a policy related to book reading. If you are halfway into one book and its time for you to leave then you can take it away along with you provided you keep your book in exchange for that. This is possible only if you are packing a book along with you for the trip. A very rare thing for Indian travelers!
After some quality time spending in the cafe, it was time to pack things up as I was heading towards my next place called ‘Binsar’ which was some 20kms down the valley.
Once the breakfast was settled, I packed all the things up and now came the worst part of carrying all the stuff back to the bike which was parked down around some 50-60 odd steps. Getting all the stuff down took me around 3 trips and in this, the owner too lend me his support.
Once, all the stuff was loaded on the bike and the bike checked of any non-conformance, I bid a final adieu to the owner as well as the cook and thanked them for their warm hospitality which lasted close to a day. It was 11:15 am when I left the place. The next place was equally beautiful as compared to this. The only difference was, the former was situated on hill, while the later was situated in a valley. I was surely gonna miss the mountain views but this time I was in for a little bit change.
Little did I knew that suddenly my life was gonna go over a toss. Before starting the ride, I had put my google maps on ‘Bike’ mode and this made me take a rather unconventional detour from the main road. Little did I know, that I would be soon passing through dense vegetation. The moment I had realized that, I was almost half way into the trouble and my heart rate started to increase. Already knowing that Uttarakhand being teeming with various forms of wildlife, the thought just upped my heart rate even more. I was more worried about the Leopards than anything and with this, one eye was scanning the road ahead while the other was scanning the trees above as Leopards like to sit on trees often.
Somehow, after riding for almost an hour I was back on the main road. I rode at almost slow pace so as to not create much noise in that silent environment and disturb someone, if by chance, anyone happens to be there. I gave a huge sigh of relied once I was back on the main road and cursed ‘Google’ like hell. I was holding on to my nature’s call for a long time since the last hour. There was no fucking way I was gonna stop in the middle of the jungle to relive myself while the cat keeping an watchful eye over me.
At around 1 pm I reached the place. I was on the main road and the the camp (Actual name on net is: Binsar River Valley Camp) was alongside the river below. It was again going to be a good workout going down along with that luggage. The camp was beautifully located and I had come to know of this after googling many pages on the net during my planning phase. Finally, I stumbled upon this place which was so beautifully posted on the website (saw google photos) that I could not believe my eyes. Another shocker came when I booked it prior to my journey commencement. I was getting all this for just 500 bucks. That time, I really thought whether I was having a dream or something.
And here I was seeing this place with my own eyes. I just could not believe that a place like this would be so beautiful. Nestled, softly alongside a gentle flowing river. No doubt, valleys and peaks have a tough competition with each other.
I called in the owner but somehow his phone was not reachable. After couple of retries, I decided to go down and take a stock of the situation. I stumbled upon the owner’s kid, Abhi who was running the show. His dad (owner) had gone for work on the nearby mountains. I was truly living the country side lifestyle. They were knowing about my plans but, they had thought that I would be coming the next day and hence they were not prepared.
With his help, I managed to bring all my stuff down. With his age, I was struck to see him carrying so much load onto his shoulders. When I asked him he calmly replied that he was used to such labor. No doubt, people living in the mountains are hardworking and and built tough. After all, living in the mountains in difficult as compared to plains.
All the rooms were messed up. It felt like, just like an hour ago, all the tourists had checked out of the rooms. Here too, there were rooms and there were dorms. I finally chose to take the room as I was the only traveler they were having right now. Also, I was here up for only a single day. I took the room on the ground floor and shifted my all luggage inside.
Since, I had given them a good surprise, they were also not ready with the food supplies and so we both decided to head up the next village and buy some stuff. We went after I had a good cold shower bath. It was painful being underneath the shower, but it was temporary. The moment I came out of it, I felt completely recharged. As we both hiked up towards the main road, seeing us from the top room balcony were two beautiful dogs, living with the owner. Alex the Labrador and Tiger the Pit bull. Alex had the typical whitish shade of lab white Tiger was brownish.
We went ahead for around 10 kms or so till we reached the village. We mostly brought the breakfast stuff. I had not taken my lunch and so packed it up from the nearby shop and decided to have it at the valley camp itself.
I really had a late lunch and whatever was left of my lunch was fed to Alex. He was such a dog that he could just about eat anything given to him. Before that, I had fed both the dogs with biscuits which I bought from the market.
Remaining portion of the time was spent listening to the stories told by Abhi about the valley and about the travelers which had visited and which every year like a routine, frequented the place. He told me that most of the tourists visiting their place were foreigners and they would throng in numbers when the summers set in. Right now, being winter period, there was hardly any foreign visitor let alone an Indian national.
I had setup my Gopro along with a rotating accessory so that I could get a 360 deg time-lapse of the place. Soon, as it started to get dark, the owner arrived and finally I was able to met him in person. He was also a jolly type person and loved to talk a lot just like his son. I think, I should say the other way. Over a hot cup of tea we chatted for quite a long time. The stories about the foreigners and how good their behavior was personally as well as towards the nature as compared to Indians. I felt embarrassed for the first time being an Indian.
He too used to encourage Indian tourists (mainly those coming in groups and mainly all single gender type (boys mainly)) but after some untoward incidents happening at his place, he started to reject the bookings. It was like a typical questionnaire which he had prepared when someone would call him to make the booking. If he felt that something was fishy, he would happily decline the booking. The owner was very chill type and was not interested in things which disturbed his sense of living in the nature.
It became really dark soon and with that the cold started to grip each of us. We then lighted a bonfire and all three of us sat besides it taking in the warmth. The dogs too accompanied us. It was cloudy just like it was during the day and hence not much stars could be seen. I, initially thought of making a night time-lapse but, then rejected the proposal as I felt it was not worth it.
Since, I had taken a late lunch, I did not have much hunger for having dinner and instead we decided to make it light and hence prepared bread and omelette. The owner was also tired of day long wood cutting work on the nearby mountain.
Right after our dinner, we made to our respective rooms for crashing onto the bed. The owner and the son went along with the dogs while I went to my allotted room. The room was too big for a single person like me.
Anyways, there wasn’t any smaller room than this and at that moment I really enjoyed the king size treatment being given to me. I ensured that all the doors and windows were tight shut and went into deep sleep.