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Dayara Bugyal 2023

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I decided to sign up for the Dayara Bugyal trek in Feb 2023. It was what I had inferred from the India hikes website, a beginner's trek, perfect for someone who wanted to try their hand at trekking before going all out.

I reached Dehradun the night prior to their pickup for the base camp. The next day, at 6:30 in the morning we all assembled into their vehicles to leave for the base camp. The drive from Dehradun to Raithal is a mesmerizing one. One hour into the journey, you pass by Mussoorie, and you realise why it's called the queen of the hills.


view from a viewpoint at mussoorie at 7:30 in the morning

After crossing Mussoorie, you can see glimpses of the Bhagirathi river throughout the journey. We had lunch on the way at a local dhaba. At the base camp you are greeted by the views of Mt Bandarpoonch, Mt Srikanth, Mt Jaunli and Draupadi ka Danda peaks. During sunset, the alpine glow on these peaks left us mesmerized and excited for the views that were to follow.


alpine glow on the mountains around 6 in the evening

Later, we were briefed about our trek. Everything from the route to the safety precautions was explained in extreme detail, leaving no room for any doubts in our mind.
The next day we started our trek from the base camp. After a 10 minute walk in the village, we started ascending on a trail. After and hour of ascent, we reached a clearing which was our first rest stop. We were asked to leave our bags at the clearing and wander into the woods alone for 10 minutes.


the woods at the first clearing

The sound of the leaves crunching beneath your feet is nothing short of music. After eating and playing with the dogs a little, we resumed our ascent. Although the ascent was a little steep, the first sight of snow ignited a little something inside all of us and within a few hours we arrived at the first campsite, Gui.


walking through snow for the first time


Gui campsite

We had our lunch and then went into our tents to rest for a bit. I was woken up by the thuds of snowballs hitting my tent. Turns out a few of the trekkers had decided to start a snowball fight. We played for while, built a snowman, watched the sunset and moonrise from behind the peaks and then headed inside the dining tent for some snacks and ice breaker games.


sunset view from the Gui campsite

After dinner, everyone except a few of us snuggled inside the 2 sleeping bags in their tents and tried to sleep. We on the other hand stayed up for another hour talking about constellations, black holes and conspiracy theories.
The next morning after destroying the snowman we'd built the previous evening, we left from Gui at around 9:30 in the morning. Today was also our DIY trek day. Amongst us, we had decided who will be the trek leader, trek guides, hydration team and even photographer. Not only did this help in us bonding as a group but also made us realise how much planning and effort goes behind leading a team. After an hour of ascent, we reached a small hillock where instead of taking rest we decided to choreograph a dance. Although it sounds bizarre, it did take out minds off the fact that we were tired and still had a long way to go. Right next to the hillock was a frozen pond on the banks of which we found remains of an animal skeleton. A few of those bones also made their way to our next campsite.
At the Chillapada campsite, we were welcomed by unpitched tents and snowfall!


Chillapada campsite

We were taught how to pitch out tents and we almost froze our fingers in the process but the sense of accomplishment that followed made it all worth it. After lunch, 5 of us thought cramming into a single tent and gossiping would be a good idea. Turns out we were right, the tent got so warm and cozy, we didn't want to leave it at all. Before dinner, the entire team assembled in the dining tent for the briefing. The next day was the summit day. We were supposed to leave earlier than the previous days and also carry a packed lunch with us. We were also told to sleep without thermals, which did sound very uncomfortable but two days into the trek we'd all realised that listening to our trek leader would only benefit us. After a few games, dinner and a very inspiring story by our trek leader we all went back into our tents and tried to sleep despite the freezing cold.
The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, all ready for the summit. There was this little buzz of energy in the air that we could all feel. All the preparation and anticipation was going to pay off today. We had our breakfast, packed our lunch and started ascending even before the sun had risen. Half an hour into walking, we saw the sun rise. The sight of the sunlight hitting the trees and the leaves turning golden made us all stop in our tracks.


sunlit trees at around 7:30 in the morning

Our first rest stop was near a dhaba. We stopped for about 10 minutes, had some tea, and started walking in the bugyals, not knowing that our eyes were about to be treated with views none of us had even dreamed of.
It took us about an hour of walking through knee deep snow to reach the top of the bugyal. The sense of accomplishment after reaching the top was unparalleled. Everyone was elated. The views left us all speechless (and breathless). All the summits we could see from the base camp were now even more magnificent. The never ending meadows covered with untouched snow is a sight none of us will ever forget. The panoramic view of the Gangotris, Mt Bandarpooch, Mt Kalanag and the undulating meadows is something I believe everyone should witness.


the view from the top of the bugyal

We clicked pictures with the Indian flag and the India hikes poster and then started walking back to the dhaba where we had our lunch.


the whole group at the top

We also fed the dogs who'd accompanied us throughout the trek our left over theplas. (I really hope my mom does not read this) When we started descending, something inside us suddenly changed. For the last three days we had been working towards something, pushing ourselves just a little more to reach the top and now that we had did it, there was this palpable energy amongst us. While descending, we played games, sang Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift songs and within a few hours we reached our last campsite, Nayata.


Nayata campsite

Unlike the other campsites, here we were welcomed by sunlight, something I take for granted very easily being a Mumbaikar. The warmth of the sun had never felt so good. We removed our shoes, took a mat each and basked in the sun for half an hour followed by some relaxing yoga stretches. We pitched our own tents and then played frisbee and other group games. As soon as it was dark, we could see so many stars in the sky, a sight very rare for someone living in the city. Our trek leader showed us a few constellations and told us about the stories behind the constellations. After dinner the few of decided it would be a good idea to tell each other ghost stories while being camped in the middle of an eerie forest. Although these stories did scare the living shit out of some of us, these are the moments we will look back on fondly and reminisce.
The next morning we all woke up and got ready for the last day of our trek. Before descending, all of us gathered in a circle and said a few lines of gratitude. After two hours of descent, we reached a waterfall where we were all given postcards to write on. Our trek leader said that he wanted us to remember this moment and what we were feeling while almost being done with the trek and pen it down in a letter to a loved one or yourself. Writing that letter with nothing but the sound of the waterfall in the background was almost cathartic. It made us all think and reflect about everything that had happened and how we had felt over the last few days. After writing on the postcards, we resumed our journey back to the basecamp. As soon as we reached the basecamp, everybody made a beeline to the washrooms to wash their faces with hot water. We freshened up and then headed into the Raithal village. We visited a 300 year old house that has survived three earthquakes.


300 year old house in Raihal village

We also visited a temple and had bun maska at a local cafe. Back at the base camp, we had some pani puri waiting for us. Post snacks, all of us gathered in the same briefing room we had assembled in before the trek, this time for a debriefing. We went around the room and shared what we had learnt from the trek and what memories we'll be taking back with us. My favourite moment was when we were given fridge magnets but instead of just keeping then, we were asked to get up, hug someone else, congratulate them for finishing the trek and give them your magnet.
It's bizarre how within four days you can develop such close bonds with people. Throughout the trek the whole team supported, motivated and helped each other. It was as if we had known each other since four years, not four days. None of this would've been possible without the incredible India hikes team. Our trek leader Tilak was the most supportive and fun person I've come across. He made sure that we all felt like a team. On the first day itself, we played an ice-breaker game which completely changed the vibe of the group. Throughout the trek he spoke to each trekker, bonded with them and made them feel comfortable. Our guides Vijay and KP bhaiya were also very sweet and helpful. They also told us stories about their lives in the local villages and about local folklores which gave us an interesting insight and perspective which we usually don't get. A very big thank you to the kitchen team that accompanied us throughout the trek too. They served us hot and delicious meals on everyday and our whole group was in awe of their commitment and cooking.
The last thing I'd like to appreciate is the green trails initiative by India hikes. As someone who believes in sustainability it was very inspiring to see the lengths they went to in order to 'leave the mountains better than we found them'. We had been given eco bags so that we could pick up trash along the trail, they had requested us to not consume food that comes in a plastic wrapper on the trail, they also had a water contraption in place so that less water is wasted while washing the utensils.
When you enter the base camp at Raithal, you'll see a poster which says "trekking transforms lives". I'm assuming this exists at every India hikes base camp and rightfully so. It transformed my life and I hope I can join them for more life transformative treks in the future.


the team that made it all possible and gave me a huge bundle of memories to take back home ❤️



Edited by Bhumi
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