Friday, 5 April 2013

Mapless Mountaineering, Mhododendrons and Marathons

Mapless Mountaineering

So I'm using the term mountaineering in the title which might be somewhat hyperbolic, but hey, it's nice alliteration. Anyway, we did finally do some hardcore hiking over our quarter break holiday, and walked up the nearby mountain Nag Tibba (literally Serpent's Peak), which stands at 3022 metres or 9915 feet. Seeing we are already at about 6500 feet it still meant a pretty hefty climb.

On the Saturday morning at about 11am after a two hour drive to the road head, Kirsten and I, my friend Mark visiting from England, and our good friends the Snader family set off. The walk up was delightful, following a beautiful stream through sunny meadows before zig zagging across the stream through the forest. The final hour was a particularly steep section and we were all relieved to reach our campsite about 300 metres below the summit at about 5pm.

We set up our tents, lit the fire and cooked some Maggi noodles (never before have they tasted so good!). We looked at the stars as we sat around the fire, sang songs and played silly games. It reminded me that being out in the Great Outdoors is such fun.

The whole group in the forest just before the top SELF TIMER
The next morning we got up and finished the ascent, and did the final steep part in about an hour. We discovered a generous smattering of snow at the summit. It felt great to have finally made it to the top of Nag Tibba, after hearing so much about it over the last couple of years. The views of the snow peaks were stunning and seemed even closer than from Mussoorie.

After this our friends the Snaders went down the way we came up, but Kirsten, Mark and I decided to try and go down the other (south) side of the mountain. Unfortunately in India maps seem hard to come by, partly because of security fears in this region. Makes you appreciate good old Ordnance Survey!

We were using directions scribbled down on a piece of paper from a colleague, but when we got to the stagnant pond landmark, we tried to descend but ended up just khud climbing. We missed the correct path and ended up hiking a couple of hours along a seemingly endless ridge in boiling sunshine, with no sign of a path down.

Eventually with water supplies almost depleted we turned round and decided to go back down the north side. A fast hike in fading light followed, but we made it to a beautiful clearing by the stream where we could replenish our water supplies.

The next day we continued our descent which included an ice dip in the stream for Kirsten and me, a tribute to our brothers-in-law Marks Bradby and Oden who would have been in there like a shot! It was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING as you can probably tell from the photo below!

It ain't half cold Mum: taking a dip in the mountain stream MARK CROSSLEY
The other plus side of coming back this way was the hospitality we received at Srikot village, our starting point, when we returned. With three hours to kill before our taxi arrived, the whole village turned out to come and say hello. A local shopkeeper and his family gave us tea and rice and dal for lunch, before his son taught us (and thrashed us) at the Indian board game Carrom, and then read his English textbook to us at some length.

After this lovely afternoon our taxi finally arrived and we made our way back to Mussoorie, exhausted but exhilarated after a wonderful time in the Great Outdoors, which I realised is "what I'm all about" (I kept saying this all weekend!!). Well as long as I know I'll be back in my comfy bed after a few days!!

The view of the Himalayan snows from the top KIRSTEN BEAVAN
Ed, Kirsten and Mark at the top of Nag Tibba

The rhododendrons have come out all over the hillside as they do every springtime here in Mussoorie, they look absolutely beautiful, clusters of red in the forest glade. Although the temperature seems to have dropped a bit, the days are beautiful and sunny and just so fresh. Here are some snaps of the rhododendrons in bloom:

Rhododendrons in the trees up near Echo Point ED BEAVAN

Confetti like leaves on the road near South Hill ED BEAVAN
Tigers run wild at the Corbett Marathon

Last month a group of us went down to Corbett National Park, about 300km south east from here but still in Uttarakhand, to take part in the third annual Corbett Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K and 5K races.

It is a beautiful part of the state and we were able to do a safari on the Friday before the race. Sadly we didn't see a tiger, but saw several elephants, deer, peacocks and myriad other birdlife.

The race itself was fantastic, I did the 10K and finished fifth out of a field of 50 just outside my personal best in 57 minutes. We ran along a quiet forest road by the park with the odd monkey looking on, accompanied by birdsong.

Our inspirational PE teacher and organiser of the trip Steve Luukkonen won the full marathon by a country mile, a fantastic feat after he was forced to quit the race last  year due to extreme heat.

A good time was had by all the Woodstock Tigers and I hope to do the half marathon next year.

Read more and view a slideshow of photos here

All the Woodstock runners STEVE LUUKONNEN

An elephant spotted on safari PHOTO: STEVE LUUKONNEN

1 comment:

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