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.