“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt,” John Muir
Escaping the summers and running away to the mountains is a dream of every Mumbaikar, and my friends and I planned to make this dream come true. We booked the tickets for a June trek in February, that’s how excited we were! After a gruelling search for the right trek (because I wanted to go to all those places, duh!) we decided Hampta Pass as it wasn’t too difficult and had the best views. We were wrong about the first part; it had us huffing and puffing, but the second, we couldn’t have been more right.
Train journeys are always entertaining. From Mumbai, we passed through epic countryside sceneries, talked to strangers, got down at random remote stations and impatiently waited for the chaiwala to pass through our coach. We didn’t even realise 20 hours had passed, and we’d already reached Delhi. Now the worst part of the trip started, a full night bus journey from Delhi to Kullu, passing through the Ghats of Manali famous for its dangerous vomit triggering twists and turns. To add on top, we had a very heavy dinner of Chole. It was the first and the last terrible night, thank God for that.
The next morning began bright and early. They transferred us into jeeps to get to the base camp as the roads were too narrow for the bus. The open jeep and the chilly wind woke us up good. The base camp was a beautiful little wooden house with views that only increased our excitement for the trek ahead.
After freshening up, the guides took us on a short hike around the camp to get acclimatised to the terrain and climate. The day ended with stargazing and anticipation of what the next day will hold for us.
The day that I dreamed about for months was finally here. Breakfast completed, bag packed, energy replenished, excitement soaring, we were ready to go! Ready to spend four days in the wild.
A jeep takes us from the base camp to Jobri, where the road ends, and the trail begins. Coniferous and Pine Trees of the lush green Kullu Valley surround us as we begin the trek. The entire way we follow a small river that eventually joins the Hampta River, stopping now and then to take in the glorious views around us. Rocky cliffs and the bright blue sky paint a perfect picture with the greenery of the valley.
On the journey, two furry little friends joined us out of nowhere. The mountain dogs always seem to find trekkers and guide them till the end. After about 4 hours of mild climbing, we reached our first campsite, Chika. Blue tents were already set up for us, right by the river. A magnificent waterfall beside the campsite completed the picture-perfect setting. A cloudy night prevented stargazing, but we entertained ourselves with horror stories.
The next day, I woke up to a drawing I made as a kid, Two mountains with a river flowing in between and the sun rising behind them. I cannot explain how beautiful that morning was! The second day had a very exciting adventure in store for us. We had to cross a river. So, we tied our boots around our neck, rolled up our pants, held hands and stepped into the icy river. Running to the other side, we dried our feet and wore socks and shoes as fast as we could. Six hours later we reached the second campsite, Balu ka Gera. The evening was filled by singing off-key Bollywood Songs and playing stupid games.