CHENAP VALLEY TREK 2021 A 20 members team of STEP embarked upon ‘Chenap Valley Trek’ from Delhi on 28th August, 2021. Shri Sunil Prasad, Vice President, Shri Khushal Singh Rawat, Programme Secretary and Shri Yaman Prasad, Life Member flagged off the team from Church Road, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi. All the participants were given Hat and T-shirts. The team travelled in a AC sleeper coach and reached Haridwar in the morning of 29th August. It was learnt that roads to Rishikesh-Srinagar and Rishikesh-Chamba were broken at various places due to landslides and closed for public. So arrangements were made to take trekkers via Kotdwar-Pauri-Srinagar route which was longer. It was further learnt that roads between Helang and Kalpeshwar was damaged at three places. So, it was planned to stay at Helang in the night. Accordingly, arrangements in a hotel was made. But fate has other things in mind. While travelling beyond Chamoli, it was learnt that massive landslide has taken place near Birhi and it was not advisable to travel in the night as it was pouring heavily. So, the team was put up in a hotel near Bhimtala. There was threatening heavy rains in the night making our stay here justifiable. On 30th August, 2021, the team started at 6 a.m., the first landslide greeted us at Pagalnullah. BRO cleared the road after an hour’s hard labour. But after some distance, another landslide blocked the way near Langsi. Here, villagers were in no mood to allow BRO to work as they wanted DM/SDM to visit the area first. With no option left, we abandoned the vehicles and started walking with all our luggage and rucksacks. There was another muddy live landslide near Gulabkoti. The team had to take help from Nepalese labourers to cross it. The had to walk a total of 3 kms. Thereafter, jeep took the team to Hanuman Temple near Helang. Our support team from Urgam valley led by Shri Laxman Singh Negi ji has reached here to help the team. Shri Hari Singh Kandwal, Shri Deepak Singh Chauhan, Shri Kunwar Singh Negi and Shri Pratap Panwar helped the team to cross the big rock there. Luckily, we found a jeep there which took us to another landslide near Salna. We crossed the affected place on foot and we found other jeeps which took the team to Devgram by noon. A day of trekking has wasted. The villagers greeted the team in their traditional way by putting Tilak on forehead. The team was put in different homestays. STEP has been taking initiative from many years to promote village tourism and home stays and training locals to handle villagers and trekkers. In the evening, the trekkers were taken to various places in Urgam valley like Dhyan Badri temple, Ghantakaran Temple, Kedareshwar Temple, Vishwanath temple. Villagers greeted the trekkers at various places. In the night, there was heavy downpour. In the morning, the team gathered at Dev Darshini Homestays. After some instructions, Shri Davender Singh Rawat, Pradhan flagged off the trekkers. The team first visited Kalpeshwar Temple and had Darshan of Lord Shiva. Thereafter, it proceeded to Bharki village where Mahila Mandal and villagers have arranged a small get-together for the villagers. Some saplings were also planted by the team at Bharki School. The villagers offered the team Sharbat and tea. After a memorable interaction, the team embarked upon further trek to Fulanaryan. Last three kms were uphill climb. The trekkers started reaching Fulanarayan by 3 p.m. They were put up in Dome and Alpine tents there. Rain Gods again greeted the team. The team had a darshan at Fulanarayan temple where lots of villagers already there. In the evening, the women of the team and ladies of villagers had a dance session together. It rained again in the night. On 1st of September, the sky was overcast from the morning itself. But trekkers have to move on as a day has already been wasted. Dressed in raincoats/poncho, the trekkers started at 8 am. It was uphill climb in the forest and rains were giving us company through out. We reached Dharamshila top around 1 p.m. Thereafter, we reached to Rokhni top at around 3 pm. Lots of trekkers were still way behind, so it was decided to camp here instead of going to Gorthein Kharak. There was cramped space for tents and water point far away. But the team had to adjust in heavy rains. The last of the trekker came at 5 pm. They all were served tea and soup to keep them warm. The dinner was served in the tents itself. Next morning, the weather was cloudy but holding up. We again started at 8 am. The trail was narrow and on the edge with no proper trek route. Slowly, steadily and safely the team marched on and reached Bhanai top at around 11 am. It was beautiful meadows with views all around. It took our breath away and made us spell bound. The team spent a lot of time here, clicking photographs, singing songs etc. Thereafter, it was the time to descend. We camped at Bedva Thatch around a km ahead of Gorthein Kharak. A wonderful campsite in the midst of flowers all around. Now, onwards it was virgin path with no visible trail. Morning was wonderful and mighty peaks of Mt. Nanda Devi, Mt. Dronagiri, Mt. Barmai, Mt. Bethatoli etc. were visible in full majesty. But soon clouds took over. We again started early for trekking. It was downhill or level walk for one and half kms. Thereafter, very hard and tough climb in rains to Lohdi top for more than two hours. We reached the top at around 1.30 p.m. We waited for the last person to arrive, clicked photographs with banner and national flag. It was the time to descend to Chenap valley. But heavy rains started again making the descend very difficult, slow, slippery and dangerous. So caution was the key word. It made our progress very very slow. The first person could reach Chenap Valley at 6 pm and last one around 7 p.m. in the darkness. The trekkers were given tea, soup, dinner in the tents itself. It was decided to start next day little late around 10 am. Next morning, we explored the Chenap Valley full of variety of flowers and shrubs. After the sumptuous breakfast of Bedmi puri, aloo bhaji and Halwa, we started for Dubatta kharak. The path was slippery and narrow and various places. So, we were walking very cautiously. We reached Dubatta kharak at around 12 pm but more challenges to come. Water point has dried up and our support team searched for water in a radius of 1 kms but unable to find. With no option left, we descended further to Dhar Kharak to try our luck which was not smiling on us today. Again, we were unable to find any waterpoint in a radius of more than a km. Thus, we were forced to descend to Givani village, a further 2 hours distance. Rains accompanied us once again. Out stay was in a village primary school. Guruji was kind enough to provide us two rooms while we pitched our tents in verandah for the ladies. It was again a very long day of trekking. The limbs were tired. On 5th September, 2021, we further descended to Thaing village. Our friends like Shri Kundan Singh ji and Shailesh greeted us there. They were with us in 2019 during Chenap valley-Badrinath trek. Pleasantries were exchanged. Old memories revisited. Time again to descend further two kms where jeeps were waiting for us which took us to Birla Guest House in Joshimath to complete the trek. Shri Laxman Singh Negi ji was again there to greet us. He has arranged a small valedictory function. Ms. Chetna Kandpal, Forest Range Officer and other officials of the Forest Department joined us. It was interesting interactive session, where trekkers narrated their story, FRO narrated her story. They complimented each other. The efforts of the trekkers was lauded as STEP has opened one more new trekking route for fellow trekkers i.e. Kalpeshwar-Fulanarayan-Bhanai-Lohdi Top-Chenap Valley-Thaing. It was very challenging trek made more by rains, landslides and various other obstacles. But all trekkers rose to the occasion and completed the trek despite time constraints on unchartered parth. Kudos to all. The team reached Delhi in the morning of 7th September, 2021 via Rishikesh. STEP congratulates every participants of this difficult path breaking trekking expedition, its leaders Ms. Manasi Gupte and Mr. P.S. Bhandari. The other STEP warriors were S/Shri Hemant Kataria (61), Dr. Preety Jain, Dinesh Gaur, R.K. Chauraisa (67), T.S. Venkatesh Babu (60), Pragna Goswami, Darpana Dhimmer (63), Mallika Shetty, Leena Desai, Vijay Waghdhare (68), Dr. Ashok Pagrut (70), Nandkumar Sarpotdar (63), Pundulik Keluskar (63), Aditya Paranjape (62), Kartar Singh Rajput and Manish Shukla. There were 9 senior citizens and 6 women in the team. The powerful young people were in the range from 45 to 70 years. STEP works for Environment Preservation; it motivates its participants to preserve nature for the future generations. It planted saplings in Bharki village. It cleaned every campsite and brought the plastics to the road head. It also motivates support team by stating that Himalayas are their homes so they must work for its preservation and cleanliness. They dutifully do it also. Special thanks to Shri Laxman Singh Negi ji, Shri Hari Singh Kandwal, Shri Deepak Singh Chauhan, Shri Himmat Singh Negi, Shri Kunwar Singh Negi and all the members of the support team, volunteers of JANDESH, who helped the team at every opportunity. They were willing companions and helping friends. A big thanks to Ms. Chetna Kandpal, FRO and his team for granting permission for this arduous virgin trek and attending the Valedictory function. Thanks to Management of Birla Guest House, Joshimath, owners of various homestays in Devgram, Shri Vinod Singh Bisht for arranging transport from Rishikesh. Thanks also goes to Shri Sunil Prasad, Vice President, Shri Narendra, Shri Khushal Singh Rawat and other members of STEP who hosted the participants in their homes.