It’s that time of the year again when you get an itch in your feet to run somewhere away from your desk. A craving to breath fresh air. I am more of a mountain person when it comes to choosing between them and beaches. It’s mystique and mysterious in its own ways. You are a tiny pixel in this world and yet, can conquer the untamed and the explored.
Last year, it was a road trip to Leh and Ladakh from Srinagar exploring road signs and experiencing things I had never imagined. This time, it wasn’t JUST a vacation. We didn’t drive around cliffs to reach places. There wasn’t much posing or clicking. I’ld like to call it as a test of my endurance, an escape into the wild leaving a luxurious lifestyle behind. It was a trek to Rupin Pass with India Hikes over Dhaula Dhar range in the Himalayas. Not a treat!
What started in Uttaranchal took about 8 days to cover 63 kilometres on foot, in a group of 13 trekkers climbing up to an altitude of 15,380 feet above sea level (Bangalore stands at 3,020 feet) with 11 kilos of luggage on the back, with the temperature ranging from 25 degree to -4 degree celsius. It ended in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh trailing around coniferous forests, lush green meadows, glacial valleys and shepherd camps, from villages without roads to inhabited snow-covered terrains touching the horizon. With spectacular sights of waterfalls dawning from clouds, gigantic alpine mountains standing upright in front of you, crossing tiny old wooden bridges, the wilderness of flora, golden eagles flying above, crystal clear river water, trees brushing the skies and snowfall on the way; nature has it’s own sense of style. An adventure worth experiencing that gets you closer to nature and, to your own self.
The trek started from Dhaula camp in Uttaranchal towards villages of Sewa, Jiskun, and Jhaka, the hanging village. As we proceeded towards Saruwas thatch in Udaknal, we left behind civilisation and camped near Rupin river in Dhanderas valley and then, ON snow near waterfalls (Rata Pheri) till we finally climbed Rupin Pass- a steep gully to reach Ronti Gad. On the way, our guides told us stories of sighting jaguars, bears, jungle cats and forest birds.
While, I cannot really sum up the experience in a single story, here are a few highlights. The good, the funny, the enlightening and the mesmerising-
1. Changing landscapes more than clothes
No kidding and no comments. From villages to dense forests to rocky mountains to snowscapes. 2. Visiting ancient hindu temples
Sewa and Jiskun were two villages where we sighted temples built in Kinnauri style. They open only on certain tithes and festivals. 3. Make a wish
Villagers make wishes and vows by thumping coins on the wooden walls of these temples that, over years have melted, a distinct religious tradition of the Kinnauris. 4. Trophy Offerings
The mountain kids take cricket seriously. There are several tournaments they take part in locally. As a gesture of respect, they offer their trophies and shields to the Gods. 5. Bonding with the local kids
The energetic warm souls of the mountains. 6. And with their parents and grandparents
Still energetic. 7. Camping by the river
Which eases the accessibility of water, but also drops the temperature in tents at night.8. The river water is crystal clear
You’ll have to see it to believe it. 9. Sighting a rainbow in waterfall
Because, you don’t see such things everyday. 10. Spotting Golden Eagle
Something that is as huge as a baby elephant. 11. View from two ends
The first picture was taken from Dhanderas eyeing the upper water fall and the second from the Upper Water Fall eyeing Dhanderas. 12. Flowers along the trail
The fertile soil and unadultrated climate favour some unique species of flowers, only found on the hills. They say, during spring season, the valley near Ronti Gad blooms with infinite flowers producing gases that make it almost impossible for passers to breathe. 13. Seeing a flock of sheep overtaking you in snow
Hurts your ego. But, the sight is surprisingly funny. By the way, they have a good stamina. 14. Taking selfies in pristine backgrounds
Call that a swag! Well, not just trekker’s. 15. Souvenirs
The best souvenirs to bring along back with you are fallen pine cones all along the coniferous forests. Such intricate patterns! 16. Walking in a queue
I probably did that last in school. On inclined regions, you realise how important it is to maintain a queue and walk with the same pace as everyone as a team. 17. Not paying rent
I mean making the tent your mobile home and not paying any rent for it or even the land you use to make one! One of the ridiculous thoughts I had while camping. 18. Missing staircases badly
And we blamed the stairs, wish they turned into escalators. 19. The slides after the biggest climb!
After crossing the Rupin Pass, there were a bunch of slides downwards which served as a deserving treat for us hard-working trekkers.20. Rhododendrons
At our first camp at Dhaula, we were served juice made out of it’s flowers. Later on, while going towards Dhanderas, we came across the Rupin Valley filled with zillions of Rhododendrons. 21. High Vegetation
Yep. And in plenty.22. Buddhist Trails
The iconic buddhist flags were a usual sight around villages along with stone petroglyphs. 23. You may say, I am a dreamer
But I am not the only one! 24. Man’s best friend
Anywhere. Anytime. The dog. 25. United we stand, divided we fall
All 13 of us trekkers came from across India, with their own motivation. It included 46 year old Pingleji from Mumbai who walked effortlessly when most of us were dragging ourselves with a trek stick, Shreyasi from Kolkata who wanted to overcome her fear of heights and Ganesh from Mysore who lost about 10 kilos to be able to make it to this trek. Then, there was our captain Samraat and other team members who diligently made this happen!
So, when are you planning your trek? There is a treat here after all!