When city-based architect Aditi Navgire and 14 members of her group planned a trek to Roopkund,a 16,800 feet peak in Uttarakhand,they had no clue that it would be more adventure that they had bargained for. Because,on the last day of their tour that concluded on June 19,the group cleared blocked roads at two places for their mini-bus,cross the swollen Pindari river by making human chains,walk more distance than they had trekked for four days and missed two trains back home.
Navgire and others got to understand the real magnitude of the disaster after coming home. She feels that the experience is no adventure,but sheer helplessness. We are too small in front of the nature, she said recalling the two days the group spent in drenched clothes walking for miles. Our trek concluded on June 15 at Loharjung base camp and we were to reach Hrishikesh and Dehradun and take a train back to Delhi. The rains started in the afternoon on June 14, said Navgire.
The group had to call off their plans to visit Hrishikesh,where they intended to indulge in river rafting before proceeding to Dehradun from where on June 17,they were to catch Janshatabdi Express on June 17. We got a jeep from Loharjung but such were the landslides that almost midway,we had to leave the jeep and start walking, she added. Walking in such distorted landscape meant going around the gravel created by the landslides,crossing the Pindari river,all this with just a few bottles of drinking water the group had packed at Loharjung. I have been trekking in the Himalayas for the past four-five years and drinking water is never an issue in the Himalayas given that the water in Himalayan streams is very pure. But this time,it was muddy and mixed with silt and not suitable for drinking, according to Navgire.
The group was advised that instead of moving along the Garhwal Himalayas,they travel along the Kumaon Himalayas. This was a wise advice, said Navgire. Following the new axis along Kumaon,the group travelled via Gwaldam-Almora, on foot and by bus. By now,they missed the Janashatabdi to Delhi. The group planned to board the Rajdhani Express on June 18,but in the morning they were stopped by police saying that the road ahead was blocked. Finally,when the police started allowing small vehicles to travel further,our bus was allowed to leave. En route,we cleared road with the help of villagers. Two trees had blocked our road, she said.
When the group reached Delhi,it was 3.30 am on June 18 and they missed the Rajdhani too.
It was in Delhi that we called our family members to say we were safe. There was no communication network or power. Loharjung electrical substation was immersed in water. Back home,my husband and in-laws had been spending sleepless nights, she said adding,We caught the flight the next morning and reached Pune at 10.30 am on June 19. It was after reaching Pune that we understood the magnitude of the disaster. We had gone through hell.