After much questioning at “trekking and tour” stands and reading borrowed tour guides, Megan and I determined that the only way to know whether or not we could actually hike to Gomukh Glacier was to go to Utterkashi and see. Utterkashi is the last main stop on Gongotri Rd, the towns beyond amounting to little more than tea stalls and the occasional guest house. More importantly, Utterkashi is where one procures a permit to enter Gongotri National Park, the home to Gomukh Glacier, the source of the matchless Ganga. Undaunted by our lack of information, we hopped aboard a 4 wheel drive tuck heading to the mountain town.
Without thinking, we had accepted the undesirable side facing back seats in a truck driven by the mafia don of bad Indian drivers. My stomach of steel handled it fine thanks to Nectar, Ghost, Farmhouse and a lot of shoulder shaking, headbobbing backseat dancing. Megan’s, and those of half the 11 people crammed into the truck, did not fare so well, resorting to sacrificing their breakfasts to the pavement through open windows. Car sickness aside, we arrived in Utterkashi only slightly worse for wear and ready for the next days battle for information, permits, and supplies.
A little note on Utterkashi and Himalayan towns in general: If you are a woman, you are meant to be inside. Not roaming the market unescorted and certainly not trekking off into the mountain without a guide. It wasn’t until well into our 2nd day in the city that we became accustomed to the hustle and bustle of young Indian men, completely (and I mean completely
) devoid of the fairer sex. After a long day of bureaucracy and red tape as only India can produce, we ended up with permit, rented sleeping materials, and company for the next day’s drive to Gongotri.