There are a few things you learn pretty quickly in India. Always carry toilet paper at all times and never watch the cook or look in the kitchen. These two are way too closely related for my liking.
To carry emergency toilet paper is one thing, to find somewhere the other billion people in India aren't. Well that's a whole new challenge.
After touching down in Delhi we spent a few days in town getting things sorted. Zak's boat didn't make it to Delhi with him so this held things up a little. Finally with all the gear and team together we loaded, crammed and stuffed 6 people, gear for a month and the dog (Kiaya) into the back, front, middle, side, top, bottom and every other space of Shalabh's truck and headed north.
We headed for Deradun about 250km north. Seven hours later we picked up Sangrop, our driver and continued on our way into the hills of Utturanchal Pradesh. It is in this province bordering Tibet and Nepal our exploration would begin.
Utteranchal Pradesh is about 50 000 square kilometres and home to around 8 million people. 90% of the province is classified as hilly (it just happens that their hills make up the western end of the Himalaya's so are very very big hills). The lower elevation areas are all made up of farmed terraces of rice and other crop. As you get higher you get into pine forest and dense jungled area's (yes I have checked this out for myself) and in the higher elevation areas (above 3000m) the land becomes more arid and harsh - as you would expect.
Our trip started with a rush and a roar with two days on the Upper Yamuna River and a sweet first descent. The Yamuna is found in the western part of Utturanchal.
From here we headed west to the Supin River drainage. Here we found more amazing mountains (hills) and plenty of water. Our trip down the lower Supin was short lived because the river entered a very small and scary gorge that we could not scout or escape from once committed. So, with our tail between our legs we hiked out. Perhaps 'hiked' is misleading. We dragged, scrapped, climbed and clung or way out with our cumbersome kayaks. Lets call it training.
From here we headed headed up the Obra River and scouted for the day. We decided that the paddling wasn't what we were really after so turned and headed higher up the Supin River in search of better luck and good paddling.
After consulting our poor quality maps we hired some porters to carry the boats and we headed up into the hills. We camped the night and put on the next morning on the Upper Supin. Our joy at this new section was short lived as we rounded a corner to find that the river dropped down into 'another' gorge. JJ and Steve (Scuba) decided to walk out along with Shalabh. Sam, Zak and I were keen to find out more. We decided to carry around the gorge and put back in when it was possible.
It turns out that it isn't possible (yet)... so, once again we tucked our tails firmly between our legs as we climbed, scrapped, crashed, hauled, fell, cursed, fell and sweated with our kayaks (now with lovely heavy overnight gear too). After 5 hours we were back at the trail/ track and a further hour had as at the road end right on dark.