21 December 2016

The Hampta Pass Trek

And here it comes...
The much awaited (I hope!) account of our maiden high altitude trek.. At first, apologies for the delay but I have finally managed to put away worldly compulsions to pen this down even as I have begun planning my next trek....

Alert: Long Post!

Trekking, Manali, Hamta Pass
Feeling Dwarfed!
Our original plan was for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek which is said to be one of the most beautiful routes in India. However the prevailing conditions in the Valley meant we had to either abandon our holiday or choose another option. That's how we embarked on this trek to the Hampta Pass. The entire schedule was reworked and we even managed to retain part of our original reservations. The hard work put in by the excellent team at Foliage Outdoors meant we had little to worry about except staying fit! 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post!

The Hampta Pass is a route taken by shepherds traversing an altitude of 14100 ft in Himachal Pradesh and begins at Manali. In retrospect, our overnight bus journey to Manali was the most boring and tiresome part of the entire trip- despite the push back reclining seats! The bus sped into the hills along the roaring Beas - its swift waters gushing over rocks and rushing to the plains. As it turned out, a river was to be our constant companion for the rest of this trip. We spent our first day at the base camp at Prinni to acclimatise, check our gear and so on. This was essential as it immediately and effectively 'removed' all perceived 'urban' conceptions about comfort! Besides our backpack which held immediate requirements, some food and water; we had packed our luggage (only 8kgs) in separate bags that would be carried by mules.

Day 1:
Our trek began at Jobra and the road snaked up in a series of hairpin bends through some impressive Pines and Maples to our start point. After the issue of energy packs and a last minute briefing, we were off! The initial part took us through a thick jungle of Devdar, Oaks and Maples. Admiring these massive trees was out of question as we navigated through, over and around their roots and the slush in-between. I slowly got the hang of using the trekking pole, sipping water from the hydration pack and finding my walking rhythm. We had some veteran trekkers in our group but they did not resent having a newbie trekker like me around - patiently waiting if I took my time to reach the resting spot! A wonderful team makes all the difference to a  great and happy trek experience!

Soon the pine-needle crunching muddy track opened to a stupendous meadow that was bisected by a gushing stream. This was the Rani Nullah (I learnt later) and we accompanied it upstream for the better part of the next two days as we climbed higher and higher. A huge surprise at this spot was a makeshift 'shop' set up in a tent - selling tea, Maggi (yes despite all bad publicity a cup of these steaming hot noodles taste divine in the hills), Chips and so on.. Kudos to the entrepreneurial spirit of the locals!

Here we go!

Ancient (Wordless Wednesday)

Ancient tree, heritage tree, heritage, qutub minar