Dodital is an easy trek by all standards.It stands at not too daunting 3025 mts and is more or less an easy walk up a paved way that can be traversed without need of a guide.The only caveat is that you do it in summers. In winters however the possibility of heavy snow renders it not-so-easy and promises to provide some high on adrenaline moments.For these unparalleled moments and to satisfy the inexplicable urge to be in vicinity of Himalayas I soon found myself making arrangements for a winter trek to dodital.Besides, I could not think of a better way to usher in a new year.
Day 0 ….a bad omen?
My partners in crime were the usual suspects Koti(Sudhanshu) and Khandi (Rohit) .The easier part of the journey,Delhi to Rishikesh, was covered in bus.It took us more time to reach Rishikesh than we thought and to make matters worse we were greeted by an overcast day.At 3:30 We were however not late enough to catch the last taxi heading to Uttarkashi.To be sitting in the end cabin of a sumo for a 170 km ride in hilly terrain is an unenviable situation to be in but it was our only chance at making up for various delays that we had to deal with.
Day 1 …Dayara se Dodital? Mushkil hai sir
We had originally planned to do Dayara-Manjhi-Dodital but decided to do the reverse i.e Dodital-Manjhi-Dayara as we started late from Uttarkashi.
The Dodital trek begins from Samgamchatti which is around 15 kms from uttarkashi.If you are lucky you can catch a taxi otherwise you need to book a taxi to take you there. In our case we had to book a taxi and it charged us 400. Sangamchatti to Agoda is a 5 kms uphill which is fairly easy on a well laid out path.
Some parts of the trail run through the bank of a river which provides a refreshing view of the valley deep below.Agoda is a fairly large village and there are accommodation options available. However we opted to stay at Bebra instead, mainly in want of covering more ground. Bebra cuts a desolate figure in winters as most of the guest houses are closed. We found a guest house open with basic facilities and offloaded the sacks from our tired backs, knowing little that we will be spending next three nights at this exact spot
There is nothing worse than waking up to heavy rains. We, as we realised, landed at Bebra at the worst time possible: at the onset of snow season. Bebra located at the foot of steadily rising cliffs on all the sides presented uninspiring environs to pass the day .Except for a short hike to a high vantage point,there is hardly anything we did apart from enjoying badly needed fire.
If waking up to heavy rains is bad, waking up to find the place covered with snow is utterly refreshing.Although at that moment it seemed Bebra might be as far as we could go,we reserved lamentation for later and shot off to enjoy the snowfall.It was still snowing when we got out and had snowed almost a feet when it stopped by noon.
Weather seemed to have cleared after the heavy spell of snow.We made a decision to try and reach atleast Manjhi,5 kms away, as the brighter albeit still covered sky gave us some hope.The ascent from Bebra to Dharkot, colloquially called Chatari, is the realtively tougher part specially if you take the shortcuts which are considerably shorter and are often preferred.The difficulty was compounded by around 10 inches of snow right from Bebra. We had hardly gained any grounds when it began to snow heavily again.And the cake walk soon turned into challenging to at times intimidating .Visibility was reduced to couple of steps as snow fell thick and fast.Trek to Dodital is throughout paved and pretty wide but under 2 ft of snow it was difficult to make out and we traced the footsteps of our guide.
Final stretch of our short but eventful hike to Chatri was particularly tough as incline was pretty steep and we were by then wallowing in knee deep of powdery snow.We reached Chatari at around 2 and by then movement further up started looking practically impossible. Prospect of finding unmanageable amount of snow in return journey played in heavily while making a decision.Common sense prevailed and we decided to return.
Snowfall hadnt stopped and we faced upto 3 ft of snow on our way down.We opted against shortcut and descended through wider and less steep way.Our experienced guides Dalbeer and Sunil lead us cutting way in snow in bitter cold.I could only find energy and willingness to take some hastily focussed and composed shots which ,thankfully,manage to do some justice to our amazing adventure.
We returned to terra firma in heavy snowfall and straight away burned a good amount of woods to ashes.
Failure or succes of a trip depends on reason why the trip was made. We therefore were not disappointed by the fact that our plan to reach Dayara was foiled by all powerful weather gods.The short trek to Dharkot gave us thrill, adventure and some cherished moments to last lifelong.
The unsused kerosene was perfectly utilised to keep the flame roaring till midnight and the new year was welcomed in the best possible way.
We woke up to a bright and clear day and started our return journey accepting the fact that nature still has the final say and we can only do so much to try. We saw beautiful Dayara on our way back,creating a glittering white outline in the horizon invoking many varying feelings: awe,love and also a pang of disappointment.
In hindsight ,I think it was not possible to make the trip we had first planned as the weather had worsened at the exact point of our arrival.So much so that to start for Manjhi in that weather was insanity.But to be honest I loved every moment of it.