Hampta Pass, the moment you hear this name, you start picturing beautiful landscapes, a snow pass and countless streams and waterfalls.
But wait, there’s more...
Having now personally trekked Hampta Pass in June, there is no doubt that Hampta Pass has one of the most beautiful landscapes and is rich in flora and fauna. Something you may not know however, is that this trek is one of the few that offers wide variations in topography.
Let me introduce you to the distinct geographical terrains that the Hampta Pass has to offer:
Dense Forest on the way to Chika
The trek starts through the dense forest of pine and deodar trees. Maple trees, silver birch, toss and oak are also spotted in this mixed forest. It takes roughly half an hour to cross the forest, after which the view opens up to a grassland enveloped between the rocky mountains, outlined with the pine trees.
Meadows after Jobra and at Jwara
Right after crossing the mixed forest from where the trek starts, the view opens up to a tiny meadow that is nestled between the huge mountains, covered with wild grass and seasonal flowers. One can hear the gushing Rani Nala (river) flowing in the vicinity at this spot.
Jwara lies in between Chika and Balu Ka Gera and can be opted for as a campsite if one desires. The meadow at Jwara is surrounded by the Dhauladhar range from one side, rocky mountains from the other and lies right across the gushing Rani Nala. The cascade flowing down from the rock-laden mountains adds on to the beauty of this meadow.
Scree and Moraines Toward the Pass Crossing
Enough of the greenery for the first two days, let’s talk about some rocky terrain now. The grassland disappears into loose rocks known as scree and glacier deposits known as moraines, as we start our climb from Balu Ka Gera towards Hampta Pass. The moraines slowly disappear beneath the huge rock chunks and boulder pieces as you move up ahead towards the pass. Eventually, everything gets covered in a white sheet of snow.
Snow Pass and Snow Bridges
When you walk on the moraines and boulders towards the pass, you will come across a stream multiple times that runs to and fro like it’s lost and trying to find its way. The stretch of 2 km on scree is mostly alongside the stream and suddenly, when you don’t see it, you think it is disappeared. Surprise! You are actually walking on top of it now. As you reach Hampta Pass itself, the thick sheet of snow and ice forms a bridge over the stream which you have to traverse very carefully to safely reach to the other side of snow bridge. One must take necessary precautions while walking on these white patches of snow bridge, the technique is to walk on others’ footsteps to prevent any sudden fall into the stream flowing beneath.
Deserted mountains of Spiti
Spiti is known for its rough beauty and barren mountains. The dry cold and dust storms give it an edge, yet it is a most enigmatic beauty to behold. Spiti, for lack of a better phrase, has it all.
The moment you cross the pass and start you descent down to the Lahaul region, you will notice the complete change in landscape. Rani Nala is long gone and you can spot river Chandra flowing down alongside the Chattru camp site. There will be little or no vegetation and huge multicoloured mountains will welcome you to Lahual and Spiti with their enormous, muted-rainbow charm.
So guys, charge your camera batteries, because you are going to walk through some dense forests, sleep on the vast meadows, climb through rocks and boulders, slip on moraines, slide on snow and finally you will end your journey in the spell-bound, barren land of Spiti.
Trust me, you will not want to miss a second of it.