“Eagles come in all shapes and sizes, but you will recognize them chiefly by their attitudes.”
This quote by notable economist E. F. Schumacher summarizes how a group of enthusiastic explorers set out to find a path to reach a water body only seen by eye in the sky – a satellite. “Where Eagles Dare” is a group of people who like to take adventure to the next level in the form of high altitude hikes, walking and riding on ice and being the laps of Himalayas in the most unusual seasons. Browsing through Google Earth, group founder Tilak Soni came across a heart shaped lake in Himalaya’s JaunliRange. The trek would be mostly through the route taken for JaunliPeak. However, the last attempt to summit Jaunli was 12 years ago by NIM (Nehru Institute of Mounteering, Uttarkashi) which ended with all their equipment getting buried under an avalanche. This was not going to be easy – the team has to be experienced in trekking and be strong enough to face low temperatures, unknown paths, high altitudes, glaciers, water crossings but most importantly have the ability to spend almost 10 days without internet. Nine members were carefully selected, dates were decided and permissions were sought. The team arrived in Uttarkashi on 25th May, support team was put in place and 26th was the day when the trek starts.
Day 1: After offering prayers at Vishwanath temple at 08:00 AM, the team headed to Dabrani, 55 kms from Uttarkashi, crossed Bagirathi via a drivable bridge – for which appropriate permissions were needed. Walking less than half a kilometer we were greeted by a major gadh which is one the major tributaries of the Bagirathi.
Water was cold and swollen as it was about noon already. We found long logs to make a bridge over the ragging waters and put in place ropes for support and safety. It took us about two hours to cross the river due to time of the day when freshly melted water from Glaciers swells the gadh. After putting on our shoes, and took a steep climb into the dense jungle going from 1650 m to almost 2500 m in less than a km. The entire mountain was lush green with undergrowthshrubs and we had to tread our own path. Soon we came across a nice level ground perfect for setting camp for the day with a water fall nearby was water needs. Since there was some good day light left, equipment was setup we practiced rappelling and jumaring along with the support team. This made the team prepared the team and made them more confident of the challenges ahead. Now it was time to relax which happened around the waterfall with posing for pictures, sharing stories and with dollops of laughter and jokes thrown in. Soon it was time for dinner as we all retired to our respective tents after sharing some laughs with the support team next to our bon fire.
The team engaging in some adventure activities – if crossing the river and 7 days trek wasn’t enough.