After doing the Deorital-Tungnath hike, it was time to get back to the trails. One of my friends at the time wanted to do one as well, so we decided to do Kuari Pass. Kuari Pass is suited for first time hikers, only having three days of hiking and 2 nights of camping in the woods. It's also a rewarding trek in terms of visuals, passing through beautiful forests, with beautiful snow capped peaks in the background. We did it in the first week of March, so we got to experience some snow at higher altitudes and at the pass as well.
The base village of the trek is Joshimath, which is approximately 6-7 hours from Rishikesh. Reserve a minimum of 5 days (2 days of travel and 3 days of hiking) for this trek.
The trail starts from Dhak village which is the last village with a motorable road. You walk a few hundred metres through the concrete roads to reach Tugasi village. It's a quaint little village in the mountains and the last one you'll encounter on this trail. There are a few streams which you can use to refill water.
Beyond the village, the trails enters into a forest. By lunch time, you'd a reach a meadow which would be the Gulling-Khullara campsite. Trekkers doing the Pangarchulla summit usually camp here, and set forward at 2 AM next morning for their summit attempt. For the Kuari Pass hikers, this is the place to load up on some food before they start climbing again towards Tali campsite. Tali campsite is approximately 4 kms away, and the trail is all uphill.
After reaching Tali, bunker down for the night, prep your day pack for the next day. Wake up early the next day, and after some breakfast, you head uphill towards the pass. In terms of difficulty, this day is going to be much easier than the previous day, however if you're not used to the altitude, you might have a hard time.
If you are doing this route around Feb/March, you'd see snow at a lot of places on the trail. You might even have to put on your microspikes, there are a couple of cross overs which are a bit risky to do without them on.
BTW, I slipped down the valley just after taking the above picture. It took a lot of effort to arrest my slide, probably the closest I've come to dying on a trek. It was fun sliding down though. Coming back up was hard, the incline was insane, and I didn't have any gloves on.
Continuing, you reach Kuari top, which is the highest point on the trail, and serves as an amphitheatre to a lot of amazing peaks in the Himalayas. If you're lucky as I was, we had clear weather on the entire trek and got to see all of the snow capped peaks without any compromise.
You'd continue walking on the snow slopes for around 30-40 minutes till you reach the pass. You'd see the magnificient peak of Pangarchulla on the left on the way to Kuari Pass.
The final point isn't much. Usually, for treks that go through passes, the journey is much more enjoyable then the achievement itself. You go back down, tracing the trail you took to ascend, back to the campsite. Rest up, before you set out to head down to Tugasi and then to Joshimath to wrap up this trek.