Road to Roopkund: Mukteshwar & Lohajung

This year for the annual long ride, I and my friend were planning to ride to Bhutan and we had already started planning for it. My friend told me the dates and surprisingly I got the approval from my boss for leaves, I mean 10 working days leave is not easy to get. But all plans were destroyed when my friend said that his boss has cancelled his leaves due to work pressure in Diwali season. I was disappointed and now I had the only option to go for a trek instead. Roopkund was the default choice this time for me after my last year’s Kedarkantha trek. You can read about it here.

Since my friend had already done this trek, information was easily available this time. I booked a batch date (after checking the no moon dates, you’ll know the reason in upcoming posts) with Indiahikes. All I had to do was prepare myself for the trek in terms of fitness and gear. So I started running and even the Indiahikes folks have now started to ask for screenshot proof of running in target time. Borrowed some trekking equipment and purchased the rest from the default Decathlon store. Once again Viaterra Claw came to rescue for packing solution because it could easily hold all my stuff including trekking pole and the rucksack. This was so good because after reaching the base camp I could just transfer the stuff in the rucksack and will be ready to go.

Now I had to plan for the route. First I had to figure out the halt point for Day 1 because I could stop either hat Rishikesh or Nainital. Both are pretty crowded places so I decided to ride a little bit more (on my friend’s suggestion) and I stayed at Mukteshwar and from there I rode to Lohajung on Day 2.

So the big day arrived. Honestly it was kinda big day because I was about to head for a 17 days long solo ride without any spare parts hehe. But I had made sure the bike is in good condition and was confident about it (hashtag just KTM things). 

Riding towards Moradabad side has not been so frequent for me. Heading towards UP on a ride always makes you stay extra careful for obvious reasons. There was a group of Benelli+Harley riders also heading towards this side and I guess they were riding to Nainital. To me surprise some from the group were riding recklessly and it always makes me think, money can buy you an expensive motorcycle, but it cannot buy you road sense. For a while I had to ride with or behind them because we were doing same speeds. But glad I lost them when they stopped for breakfast. And after sometime so did I.
Few beautiful spots on the ride and nothing special to mention otherwise except for when you are approaching Nainital.





I was so happy to see these clouds. They have a magical effect which takes all your ride stress away within seconds. But Nainital was approaching, the crowd also increased and so I didn't want to spend more time here. I had to head towards Mukteshwar which was about 50km from here.
Continuing from here after checking the directions, Mukteshwar is an easy ride. But I suggest to fuel up your bike in Naintal because the next petrol pump seemed to be in Almora. There's one in Bhawali but I missed that too. Its a scenic ride to Mukteshwar, which is at about 7500ft.




Mukteshwar seemed like a very peaceful town to me. I had not booked any hotel and as I rode towards the end of the town I spotted this homestay signboard. As you follow the signboard you pass through a jungle for sometime and then you see this peaceful homestay quietly hidden inside the jungle.



This was exactly  my kind of place so I was very happy. I settled for Rs. 950 for night stay including breakfast. The host Mr. Deepak was amused that I came all the way on a bike but he was a trekking organizer himself. He started to share his trekking stories and we instantly connected.
This homestay was right opposite to the inspection bungalow which offers spectacular view of the Himalayan range. Although it was cloudy when I went there, it was still an amazing view.







After this I went for a walk in the town. There is a small shopping complex and an SBI ATM too. While walking I saw there are stairs leading up to a small temple but I skipped it. Continuing further you can walk up to chauthi ki jali which is like a view point place of the valley.






 From chauthi ki jali I found that there's a trail leading to my homestay itself. Already started to get the taste of some trekking I thought. Now I took some rest for a while and by the time of sunset I came back to this trail point to find a nice little spot for myself to view the sunset.



Went back to the town to eat something as I forgot to have lunch lol. But by the time I was coming back it was almost dark and I got a call from Deepak that I should come early. I ignored it and was walking at my own pace and finally when I was walking towards the homestay it was so dark I couldn't even see my own feet. You could easily get scared with the creepy sound of insects.

When I reached Deepak said you should have come early before it got dark as sometimes there is leapord and bear roaming around. NOW WAS WHEN I GOT SHIT SCARED. I said why didn't he tell this to me before. Anyways I sat with him again talking for sometime and soon it was dinner time which was very homely alu gobhi, roti and dal.

Next morning it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful homestay and I really enjoyed staying here. I was almost out of petrol so I had to first ride to Almora to get fueled up (almost made it!). Otherwise you could try getting petrol in black which I didn't want to. From Almora I headed towards Kausani - Baijnath and further to Gwaldam. The last petrol pump is at Baijnath so make sure to top up. Its a beautiful ride from this point and you will enjoy every bit of it. However...





Once you cross Gwaldam (by the way I spotted a huge monitar lizard here can you believe it, it was a THRILLING experience), so Google maps will show you to continue moving Sakot, Poorna as the blue arrow in the pic below
The only problem with this route is that its completely empty. Which is good in a way, but there's not even a tea shop or dhaba here for you to stop and grab something to eat. Road is average and there is no sign of human being for miles and miles. And only for this reason you can try the alternate red arrow route which is of course longer. Please note that I will use the red arrow route while returning to go to Tharali and further to Govindghat (to be updated later). For now, some pics from the 'blue arrow' route






Bike performs so good but boy it makes you take frequent breaks with its hard seat. Plus it was a hot day so water+ leak breaks increased. Once I reached the end of this blue arrow route and took a right from  here towards Dewal, I was welcomed with this bridge on Pindar river which was a pleasant sight and moment.




From here its just a lot of curves towards Lohajung which is the base. I reached at about 3:45pm and was alloted a room by the India Hikes staff. The view from the guest house was beautiful!





So this was the journey to reach the starting point of the Roopkund trek. Here I was joined by the rest of the batch after few hours and later in evening we finished the registration formalities and briefing etc. I was so ready and excited to begin the trek. Later in the night we were all awakened by the sound of loud thunder. It should not rain, I thought.
Thankfully it didn't rain the next morning and in my subsequent posts I will write about the entire trekking experience over the next 6 days and also later on Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib trek which I did after Roopkund.
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