WHEN THE MOUNTAINS BECKON: TREK TO HARSIL-SATTAL

Nestled amidst the beautiful Kumaoun Himalayas, this little hamlet of Uttrakhand, Harsil situated at an altitude of 7860 feet above sea - level and 23 km from Gangotri, is no less than a trekker’s dream destination. On 12th December, 2011, amidst the biting cold of winter, 47 IAYP (International Award for Young People) Awardees from La Martiniere For Girls, Kolkata, along with our Award leader Dr. Tapti Dasgupta began our journey to Uttarkashi district, Uttrakhand. We journeyed by train and completed the last leg of the journey by bus with the hope of accomplishing this “himalayan” task.

Our trek commenced from Bhelura village (close to Uttrakashi) and as we ascended we got a beautiful breathtaking view of the Shrikanth and Banderpoonch mountain ranges. We spent first night in our tent at Ayuli Bugiyal and began the night trek at 7 pm towards Nachiketa Taal with the stars providing heavenly cover. The following day, we journeyed towards Harsil where we set up our campsite for the next three nights. We erected our own tents along the banks of the holy Ganga. The next morning we trekked to Sattal, a mysterious cluster of seven lakes set amidst picturesque surroundings. It was a long, steep and arduous climb. The path, lightly blanketed with snow, resembled a carpet laid out to welcome us. The frozen lakes and a snow cave were a visual treat. Amidst all the snow fights, there was a sense of achievement and pride because we had trekked to a height of 12,500 feet above sea level (approx.).

Crossing the icy cold waist-deep waters of the Ganga barefoot, self cooking “dhokas”, tri-lino traversing, pitching tents and discussing the days events around a campfire - these Awardees have done it all! We returned back safely on 23rd December, 2011 and are greatful to our Principal, Mrs. L. Mirza and Vice- Principal, Mrs. R. Sarkar for their constant support and co-operation.

Through this enriching and memorable experience we learnt that in unity lies our strength and together we can face any challenge in life. Steep climbs and freezing temperatures ranging from 2 to -10’ C made survival more difficult. However we Martinians embodied Labore-et-constantia - with hard work and consistency one can reach great heights. Nature welcomed us at every turn of the road while the Mountains beckoned us to return, promising a fresh challenge on our next visit.

- by Ayushi Bainwala

La Martiniere For Girls

IAYP, Gold Qualifying Awardee

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