On June 2, a group of students from Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA and Nature-Link Institute, Boone, NC traveled to the Garhwal regions of the Himalaya. Dr. Keith Bosak from Georgia Southern University and Laura Caplins from Nature-Link Institute accompanied a diverse group of students into the Himalaya. From June 1 to June 23, 2007 the group traveled from the hot plains of Delhi into the high altitude and alpine environments of the Garhwal.
The course began in Delhi, with the group spending one night in the city before catching an early morning train to Hardiwar and then onto Rishikesh for the night at a hotel. The following day the group traveled farther into the mountains via bus spending the night in the mountain community of Deval. In the morning the students were rewarded with there first morning yoga session taught by Divya Naithani, a yoga teacher trained at The Yog Institute, Mumbai. Divya has been teaching yoga since 2004, and practicing since 2001. The first yoga session began with some simple exercises as well as an explanation of the theory and purpose of yoga. After a relaxing morning the group traveled to Wan where they spent their first night in tents at a GMVN rest house. The next day the group trekked to Bedni gaining over 1000 meters in elevation and spending the night above tree line for the first time. Cool temperatures and questionable weather prompted the group to head toward Ali Bugyal, as the intended course from Baguwabasa to Roopkund was determined to be impassable due to snow. The night at Ali Bugyal really introduced the group to the grazing patterns of the region as herds of cows, sheep, goats, and horses made there way through camp in the afternoon and evening. As with every morning, the group rose to a morning yoga session held by Divya and after breaking camp trekked back to Bedni . The following day the group camped at Patar Nachonia at 4000 meters in elevation. Leaving Patar Nachonia., the group descended to the village of Kanol via a long ridge walk and some spectacular views of the surrounding peaks, spending the night at a GMVN rest house. The final day of trekking consisted of downhill travel to Setail and a jeep ride to Lata.
During their stay in Lata, students were able to observe first hand the daily activities of the local people as they worked in the fields and tended to their livelihoods. The students stayed in the winter homes of the people of Lata. After a few restful days in Lata, the group traveled to the northern portion of the Niti valley to the village of Ghamsali. On the road to Ghamsali, the group was able to experience the forces of nature at work, as an avalanche earlier in the season had obstructed the road. Walls of snow towered over the jeeps as the snow required digging through over three meters of avalanche debris to reach solid ground. Students were impressed with the shear power of the avalanche as once large trees appeared like broken toothpicks, the trees were stripped of there branches as was evident in the aftermath of piled snow. The night in Ghamsali was spent a few hours walk outside of the city, with camp made on a moraine overlooking the valley. The group was rewarded with spectacular views of the high altitude dessert terrain. After awakening to clear skies, the group traveled to Niti, the last village before the Tibetan border. In Niti, students were able to see the Tibetan influenced architecture as much of the village is decorated with intricate wood carvings.
The students then returned to Lata for a day and made a final trek to Lathi Kharak and Sani Kharak. The trek up was a strenuous one but everyone was able to enjoy the stunning views of the Niti Valley and Rishi gorge. Walking out to Sani Kharak, students were able to see many of the peaks of the NDBR core zone including, Trisul, Bethartoli, Nanda Gunti and Dronagiri. Unfortunately, the summut of Nanda Devi was obstructed by clouds. The descent from Sani kharak began the journey back home as the group retruned first to Lata, then made there way back to Rishikesh, Hardiwar, and Delhi. Once in Delhi the students explored the many sites of the city. The final adventure was a trip to the magnificent Taj Majal in Agra.
– By Laura Caplins, July 23, 2007