One of the days, we decided to take advantage of the fact that there wasn’t much snow, to trek up the mountains above the slopes of Auli. We started pretty late in the morning, with the local forest guard guiding us from the front. There was still more than a feet deep snow high up, so we rented rubber gum boots for the walk.
Very quickly we were walking in the alpine forest, with snow covering up the forest floor. Evenly spread Golden Oaks and Pines dominated the forest. Higher up, a few rhododendron trees occasionally popped up from the snow. Silence of the forest was broken by our own low voices and occasional calls of birds high up on the trees. The white forest floor was decorated by brown dried leaves of the pine trees. Occasionally, the trees spread apart to give us the vistas of the high Himalayan Mountains far away. Our guide showed us the taller peaks visible from here – Chhang Bhang, Dronagiri and the mighty Nanda Devi. Views of Kuari Pass looked beautiful and inviting, with patches of bare land seen emerging out of the snow cover.
A Rhododendron plant emerging from the snow
Wildlife in the forest seemed to be in plenty. We did not see any, but our guide who was walking in the front did get to see a monal pheasant and wild boar. But there were many signs of wildlife, as we saw many footprints of snow leopards, bears, musk deer and boars. Human footprints and mark of the skis made an odd and interesting digression from this, but these were a minority here against the wilder ones. There did not seem to be much bird life and even the forest seemed to have been dominated by ravens.
Pug marks of a snow leopard
A few kilometers of walk took us to a beautiful frozen lake – called Chhatra Lake – covered all around by snow. The melting snow gave way to ice in a small corner, where I walked down and touched its freezing water. The opening made by the lake in the forest showed up the afternoon sun and the snow lit up brightly in the depression of the lake. A few steps above the lake was a small hutment where a hermit was known to have practicing a few years ago.
The frozen Lake
We walked higher and reached a ridge and then to the highest point around. Indeed, like anywhere else in the Himalayas, we were rewarded with magnificent views that few other places in the world can offer. To one side of the ridge was the lower region with villages, cultivated land and alpine forest. The other side, which was towards Auli, opened up to the higher, snowy mountains of the Nanda Devi range. It was a pleasantly cold day, with direct sunlight warming our body and making us feel good. The guide slowly muttered that he could sit here all day, and I nodded in agreement.
We retreated from here as the sun started moving downwards in the sky. It was almost 5pm by the time we reached back to Auli, and we haven’t even had our lunch. We quickly changed and rushed to the restaurant to fill us up, and then for some rest and slumber.
Also see more about Auli in paintedstork.com
Visit to Auli in 2005
* Images from Auli(plenty of snow)
* Trip report
Visit to Auli in 2006
* Images from Auli(little snow)
* A back-breaking journey: from Rishikesh to Auli
* First Day at Auli
* The days of Skiing
* Spending time in Auli
* Trekking and walking around
* About Auli