This hike is actually going to be pretty crazy. During the hike we will cover 95-120 miles while carrying 40%-45% of our body weight. We will be camping for over two weeks at an altitude of over 10,000 ft. and will attempt crossing of snow covered passes over 13,000 ft. gaining and losing 3,000 ft of elevation on some days.. We will cross whitewater river, scramble across teetering boulders and sweat our way up mountain passes. Between New Delhi and the mountains temperatures can vary from 100 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
It starts with an overnight train journey from New Delhi, followed by a three-hour Jeep ride to reach NOLS India Base at Ranikhet. We will rest, pack up and continue by bus to the village of Lohajang. We have two choices in routes, which will be determined by the weather. We might enter the Milam Valleys and continue to the
roadhead Munsiari along well traveled trails which was an important link in the ancient trade routes between India and Tibet. Along that route we will pass deserted 300-year-old villages that stand in history to show the once thriving business between the two countries. The alternative route from Lohajang traverses around the west side of the Trishul massif before crossing Kuari Pass. Pilgrims on their way to pay respect to Nanda Devi have historically used that area.
We will be hiking through forests of Maple, Oak and Rhododendron and pass villages
where cattle-and-water-buffalo-powered agriculture is still the main way of life. It’s going to be super remote, something rarely seen by western visitors and is the home of the Himalayan black bear, Himalayan tahr, fox, bharal (blue sheep) and snow leopards.
Hindi is the national language of India, English is spoken mostly in the cities and is recognized as the second national language. About one-third of our course will be spent in close contact with porters, tea stall owners, bus drivers and the local hill people of northern India so basic Hindi is going to help me out a lot.
We will return to NOLS India base by the evening of the third to last day to clean and store equipment. The next day will be spent de-issuing gear and packing personal bags. In the evening we will have one final chance to go shopping in the local market and the next morning we catch a train back to Delhi. After graduation dinner the course is over but I will plan on staying two extra days in India to travel to Agra and see the Taj Mahal. Then back on a plane to the US on the 27th-ish to get ready for my 21st birthday on the 31st here in the states, woohoo!