“No matter who we are or where we live, deep inside we all feel incomplete. It’s like we have lost something and need to get it back. Just what that something is, most of us never find out. And of those who do, even fewer manage to go out and look for it.”
Indrahar Pass Trek -The Solo Journey
A solo trek to Indrahar pass was my ultimate objective and goal of this solo trip; my first solo trip to Himachal, my first trek in the Himalayan region, and yes all this was to indulge in some soul searching, searching myself, to learn what aloneness and celebrating solitude is all about. A hike to approx 14500feet and add another experience of conquering a peak into my list of hikes. Triund-Snowline-Indrahar Pass was my plan. I thought of waking up early and starting my trek at 7 in the morning but that did not happen as the weather was too cold and I could not help but sleep a bit longer. After getting ready and having a good hot cup of coffee I took the shortcut from my hotel in Dharam Kot to the starting point of the trek. A backpack of around 12kgs of weight on my shoulders and a dream of solo hiking in my eyes, I reached the starting point after losing my way a couple of times..:P I was the only one on this route and after reaching the starting point saw many hikers who had come there taking the other route which comes directly from Mcleodganj. I wrote down my name and other details in the register maintained by the forest department personnel Mr. Sunil and got a compliment of being from one of the most educated states of India. All done all set I was ready to start my hike on the well-marked trail of the beginner's friendly hike in the Himalayan region.
The initial trail, a well-marked broad trail which makes you think this trek is going to be a cakewalk.
I met this little girl who was from Austria, who had come along with her mom to hike the Triund hill. She gave a broad smile to my camera and I walked ahead giving her a big thumbs up (y)
Leaving behind Dharamkot village I had climbed a good distance and I could feel the bliss and the energy pumping up looking down at the valley.
I continued my hike and found it's all about the stamina. Triund is about 9kms from the start point of the trek and I had done a quarter of the trek without much pain.
These are the real heroes of the mountains who climb up with so much of weight almost on a daily basis.
After hiking up a significant distance I came across this Cafe named Magic View; it's named so because of the magical view we get of the valley from here. It's run by a person named Joginder Sharma since 1984. I had my first big break here, had a quick snack, talked to a few other trekkers who were resting here. This cafe is at an altitude of about 8000feet and I had only to complete another 2000feet to reach Tirund Hill which is at an altitude of approx 10000feet. It was an amazing feeling.
This was the final stretch from where a turn and a few steps would lead me to Triund Hill. The feeling of achievement was roaring inside me. Reaching Triund was the first leg of achievement and I felt really happy and excited about the further trek ahead and surprises.
I reached the top and I cannot describe my reaction after the first view of the grassy meadows of Triund on one side and the stunning Dhauladhar snow-covered mountains on the other. The view was simply out of this world for me as I had never been to such a place before. I removed and kept aside my backpack and shoes, and laid there on the green grass beholding the beauty in my eyes and hoped this moment never ends and the time stops moving.
There are a couple of cafes at the top as well and the best thing they sell is” Dal Chawal”. I was feeling super hungry had Dal Chawal and other snacks that I had brought along from home. “Dal Chawal” tasted like super awesome and I never thought I would get to have such a good and stomach filling lunch here high up in the mountains.
From left to right- it's me, Saurabh & Vinay. I had met Saurabh & Vinay while trekking and here I met them again. We had lunch together and even shared the snacks we brought from our homes. We talked about the passion of trekking and became friends in no time. They both decided to camp here at Triund hills whereas my plan was to hike further up to snowline and camp there. Triund is a bit crowded and for me to experience some solitude I had to go further up where I would be far away from the crowd and close to my aloneness. They both liked my idea of camping at snowline a much quieter place and decided to join me.
Hugging the Dhauladhar Mountains. Clicking pics is one of the best ways to capture these wonderful moments for the rest of our lives. Even if we get old and our memory gets weaker by the time we can always look at the pics and relive these sublime moments.
Leaving behind the grassy meadows of Triund Hill, I started my trek further towards snowline. Vinay & Saurabh joined me and I was happy that I made friends out of strangers.
It was around 4 pm in the evening that I started my trek towards snowline & had to reach before sunset. Snowline from Triund is another 2-3hrs of the trek and here the trail is not that easy as it was up till Triund. The trail was marked with red arrows on the rocks and boulders on the way.
The narrow rocky trail was adventurous and exciting. An hour to sunset and I had to be quick to reach snowline. Saurabh was ahead of me and Vinay behind.
The horizon was slowly changing colors and the view was mesmerizing. I had never seen this kind of a view in my whole life till now. The beauty of the Himalayan region during sunset.
It was getting dark and the setting sun views were only slowing me down. I had to reach snowline but I could not move further before sulking into this wonderful sight of the twilight. The sun was well below the horizon leaving behind its colors to the awe of the beholder.
I reached Snowline at around 6 pm and snowline cafe here it was. It's run by a very humble and good elderly person named Jaychand Sharma. I was extremely joyous and contented for what I achieved today. The views at this point were simply amazing, with snow covered white mountains at one side and the grassy meadows on the other. We pitched our tents and roamed around to explore this beautiful place, where there was no one except we three, a foreigner lady camping at a distance and Jaychand Sharmaji the owner o the snowline cafe.
After serving us a wonderful heavy dinner of Dal Chawal, with a lot of Rajma and vegetables in it; Jaychand Sharmaji helped us with lighting a bonfire. It was the month of November and really very very cold. The warmth of the bonfire and the light music we played on our mobile phones talking to each other about our personal lives made the night to be remembered forever.
The view of the white mountains right in front of me and the moonlight was having a trance-like effect on my brain. I could not ask for more from this alluring night. It was so meditative for me. Moonlight is the proof that there will always be light in the darkness.
Our tents at snowline. Before going to sleep I had asked Saurabh and Vinay if they would like to join me for further trek towards Indrahar pass early next morning. Saurabh said yes but Vinay asked us not to disturb his sleep and did not want to join us. It was very cold and the temperature was in the minus, and had to struggle throughout the night to get good sleep, thanks to the sleeping bag which was not capable to hold me warm inside :P
I woke up at 5.30am and was waiting for the sun to rise above the horizon. The rising sun was creating a dramatic change in the horizon. The orangish red color slowly rising up and lighting up the entire valley. It was a moment to behold and feel the energy of the sun light traversing inside me.
Me and Saurabh all geared up started our trek towards the snow-clad mountains and this was going to be my first experience with snow. For a first few hundred meters, it was a downhill way till Laka/Ilaqa which is a place where the shepherds grace their sheep’s. The route was a bit confusing and we lost our way once but soon got back on the right track.
A stone structure in Laka built by the Shepherds. Laka is a grassy meadow where the Shepherds graze their sheep and then move further in search of greener fields and cross the mighty Indrahar pass and get down towards the other side.
As the altitude was rising and the air getting thinner I started breathing heavy and moving slower. Acclimatization is very important at every stage of high altitude treks and if we are not properly acclimatized it becomes difficult and fatal sometimes. The trek was getting tougher as we had to cross huge rocks and boulders.
It had been around 1.5hrs since we started our trek from snowline. Lahesh cave was on one side and Indrahar Pass straight ahead of us. This huge boulder showed us the way towards the Indrahar Pass but it was getting difficult for me to move ahead. I had to take a break here and recharge myself with some energy bars and snacks.
Crossing huge boulders and maintaining my breathing I somehow reached the Glacier and Indrahar Pass was at a distant vertical hike around 900meters away but that was a good and significant difference of gain in altitude. It was a tough task to cover another 2000feet in attitude within a small distance and I was feeling heavy. I was not feeling that well acclimatized to go ahead and told Saurabh it would be difficult for me to trek further. Saurabh too decided not to go any further and we both were happy and content that we reached till here. I said to myself the next time I come here I would definitely cross Indrahar Pass. I enjoyed the view of the mighty Indrahar Pass in front of me and the feeling of being at approx 12000feet above sea level was an achievement for me. It was not a failure for me to return back from a point without achieving the ultimate goal, but reaching here was an achievement in itself and I celebrated that.
We started our way back towards Snowline and then down to Triund and back to Dharamkot the same evening. What I learned in the whole solo trek of mine was -
A solo trek is a transformational journey, a journey within oneself, a journey where we start celebrating ourselves, where we don't long for anyone else to complete us, a journey where we don't feel the need of the known people and find that connection with unknown people, a journey in making new lifetime friends out of strangers, a journey towards exiting our comfort zones, a journey which makes us look at this world with a different perspective and a journey which changes us for better.