Leh trek update #6 – Hampta Pass

Our journey to Jorba began at 7am in the morning. To get to Jorba, we had to get prior approval from the authorities here. The area falls under Allan Duhugan Hydro Power plant and prior approval is needed to trespass the area. There is another route also which can be taken via the Prini village, but it is a little longer. However no approval is needed on that route. Our driver dropped us at the start point at 815am in the morning. We encountered foggy weather while on our climb in the vehicle and also when we started walking. Our first target was to reach the Chika base camp and then continue onwards and reach Bhalu ka Ghera and camp there for the night. With this in mind, we started walking but with as we were not used to carrying so much weight and walking, frequent breaks were needed. After walking for about 2 hours, we managed to reach the Chika. We rested for a few minutes there and absorbed the surroundings. The valley looks beautiful with the river flowing next to it and is an ideal place to do some landscape photography.

We then moved towards our next target which was Bhalu ka Ghera. There is a bridge which needs to be crossed to continue the onward journey. The best way to find the bridge would be to continue walking on the river bank, however, we were walking quite away from the river bank and missed it by a long distance. We reached a place where we couldn’t go any further and then realized that we have missed it. We back tracked our way and finally found the 2 bridges. The bridges are basically stones put on 2 logs of wood with water flowing beneath. They are however, very easy to cross. However, we had one person in our group who was afraid to cross it and it took us approx. 45 mins to cross the 2 bridges. So in all we lost approximately 2 hours in just locating and crossing the bridge.
After the crossing the river, we continued walking towards our destination. The walk took us through green pastures and then through rocks. Walking with a heavy back pack and on the rocks is one of the most difficult climbs which i have done. We kept walking until we reached another river crossing and once again a lot of time was wasted in crossing the bridge. We were already running behind schedule and such wastages were not helping us. Me and Saurav then started walking faster, even with the heaviest of the bags, we were moving a lot more faster. But the rest of the guys couldn’t cope up with the pace and we would have to wait for them to join. We were now racing against time as the sunset was fast approaching and we were no where near the camp site. We urged the rest of the guys to move faster, but it was of no use. We arrived at our last river crossing but it was too late in the evening for us to cross as the light was fading away really fast. We then decided to camp at the river bed itself. The river bed was not flat and full of stones, large and small. In the fast fading light, we started to set up the tent with Saurav and me really going at it to ensure that the tent is ready. Even though we were carrying 2 tents, there wasn’t enough space to set up another tent and it was decided that we would leave the bags outside and share the tent amongst the four of us.
By that point i was extremely exhausted and was in no condition to eat anything and decided to go ahead and sleep. The rest of the guys were trying to get the stove going so they could eat something. But after a while, they all decided to just go to sleep. That night was one of the most uncomfortable nights for me. I couldn’t sleep at all due to the stones and acidity. I was very surprised because i had hardly eaten anything but dates, cashews and almonds. I tried sleeping sideways but the rocks would start hurting. The only way to sleep was to sit up and close the eyes. I did that a few times but it was of hardly any use. It had started to rain now. The sound of rain and the raging river was something which I had never heard before and I can still remember that sound while I write this. Since I couldn’t sleep, I kept checking the time and hoping that the night would end soon and the morning would be bright and sunny.

Leh trek update #5 – Manali

As mentioned in my previous post, we reached Manali on the 20th July. Our trek start date was 22nd July and we had 2 days in hand. The first day was spent researching on all the possible transport modes available for our trek. We needed transport up to Jorba to begin the Hampta pass trek, then from Chatru to Batal/ Chandrataal lake and then lastly from Baralacha La to Leh. While we inquired we a lot of people, there were only a few people who were falling in our budget. We spent an entire afternoon doing the research and realized that transport is easily available upto Jorba, but there is minimal transportation available from Chatru. There is only one bus which passes through the area and all taxi guys will charge the entire fare from Manali to Batal/ Chandrataal. Lastly, pick up from Baralacha La is available, but again we would end up paying the entire fare from Manali to Leh. After returning back to the hotel, i spoke with the owner of the hotel to see if he has any contacts with any taxi drivers. In the mean time, our spirits were also lifted when Saurav called and mentioned he would be joining us for the trek. But now instead of starting on the 22nd,we would be starting on the 23rd. But the delay was something which we were all willing to accept.

The second day we decided to do local sight seeing and went to Van Vihar and enjoyed walking on the forest trail which led to the Beas river bank. I have never seen the river so closely and with such force. Apparently, it rains heavily during June-Aug and with the snow melting up on the mountains, it only added to the more to the river current.
After spending sometime at the Van Vihar, we went to the Tibetan monastery which is across the street. I had come to the monastery a couple of years ago, but the main temple was closed and i wasn’t able to go inside and see the temple. This time around we had reached during the afternoon tea time and the temple was open. I found the temple to be very peaceful and even though the priests were saying their prayers, it was very serene. We spent some time at the temple and then decided to head back to the hotel.
In the evening i decided to go and see the Hadimba temple. The climb to the temple was quite steep, but I felt it was worth it. Again, the temple surroundings have been very well maintained and are neat and clean. After offering my prayers to the Goddess, I walked out and had one of the best tea’s in Manali. The guy is right outside the Manali temple and is the last shop if you are coming from the temple.

Saurav joined us on the morning of the 22nd and the remaining day was spent buying last minute items for the trek. Our bags were packed, the transport to drop point arranged, all last minute items brought and packs, finally we were ready at last to begin the adventire.adventure.

Leh trek update #4

As mentioned in my previous post, one of my friends had to leave mid-way through the train journey and tend to his mom who was hospitalized. In the mean time, we decide to continue ahead to Chandigarh. I was alone as the other two friends were traveling in a different compartment. All through the journey my thoughts were with my friend. The train passes through some really beautiful plains. I was able to spot different birds and at one point could see 3 Sambars together in a field. The sad part about the moving train is you cant really take a picture. While nearing Delhi Cantonment station, the train passes very closely near the new Delhi airport. The area after station on one side is occupied by the army and on the other side is full of slums. One side you have neat disciplined life and the other side is full of chaos.

We reached Chandigarh a little after 4:30pm and headed to the bus station in sector 43 to board the bus to Manali. Since we had reached the bus station a little early for a 840pm bus, we decided to spend some time at the Food Plaza attached to the bus station . After whiling away a couple of hours at the Food Plaza, we boarded the bus to Manali. The bus travel was hassle free and without any discomfort. We reached Manali the next day, 20/07, around 7am. We then hiked our way to the hotel, which was approximately a good km away with our heavy back packs. We checked in at the hotel and now only 2 more days remain to start the trek.

The remaining 2 days were spent doing the local sight seeing in Manali.

Leh trek Update #3

So after 3 months of planning, mentally preparing myself and getting all the required things for the trek, the journey had begun. However, not on a very good note. One of my friend’s mom has become critically ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. She wasn’t feeling well because she had viral fever and the doctor had asked my friend to get her admitted to a nearby hospital as they can do the drips and get the condition better. My friend got her admitted to a hospital in the morning and after the doctors reassured him that her mom would be fine, decided to travel for the trip. While we were traveling, the doctors diagnosed her with dengue and started doing platelet transfusion as her platelet count was really low.

During the entire 10 hours my friend was in.the train, he kept thinking the worst and that’s when he got a call from his sister that doctor has said mom is critical. So he got down midway, traveled back and has just reached home. I hope and pray that everything turns well with his mom.

In the meanwhile, me and remaining 2 people have carried on with our journey. However, my mind is certainly not at peace and not happy.

Trek update #2

It is almost time for me to embark upon this grand adventure. Tomorrow around this time, I would be traveling in the train, heading towards my destination – from where I would be beginning the journey. It is such an irony – to reach a destination to commence a journey. The bags are all packed and I am just eager to begin. At the same time, I am nervous, tensed and equally excited as I have never done anything like this every before. I don’t expect this to be an easy journey, but as they say no gain without pain. The route that I am trekking on is below. As mentioned in my earlier post, I along with Saurav, Kaushik and Lee would be doing the Hampta Pass trek and also do the Chandrataal Lake trek.

In the next 15-20 days, I will try and update the blog as and when possible.  However since there is no network, the thoughts will be captured in a diary and shared later.

Full Trek route

Chandratal Lake trek route
Chandratal Lake trek route
Altitudes we would be covering

Trek Update #1

Less than 2 weeks remain for one of the most adventurous journey’s in my life to begin. I, along with Saurav, and two other colleagues would be doing the Hampta pass and Chandrataal Lake trek together from 22nd July onwards. Generally most people do either one of the two treks and not both. We have decided to go ahead and do both. The entire trek is of 7-8 days depends on how soon we are able to cover the distance. Our trek would take us to altitudes of over 14,000 feet. During these 7-8 days of the trek, we would be camping at various places and staying in tents. Our meals are basically going to be masala oats for breakfast, normal Oats for Lunch and Maggie/ Ramen for dinner. During the day we would be munching on cashews, dates, almonds and other dry fruit to give us the energy needed to walk. The entire trek is along a stream so getting water should not be a problem. The best part of the trek is that we are doing this trek by ourselves and aren’t part of any guided tour and none of us has ever done this before. All things needed for the trek have already been brought or are in the process of being purchased. The hiking bag should be ready by next week. The travel arrangements (to Manali) have been done, the stay arrangements (at Manali, Leh) have been done.

This trek is going to challenge us mentally and physically. While mentally, I am feeling ready and I am more worried about the physical aspect of the trek. While I have walked over long distances, walking continuously for 8-9 days at such a high altitude is something I have never done. I guess it is going to be more of a mental thing and how to keep the mind from not giving up. I expect that there would be times when the body would just give up and not wanting to move forward, I think those times would be the most difficult for all of us.