I could still feel the tiredness of my last trek, but one has to be lucky to be a part of Parang La trek. Very few companies operate on this route due to the abrupt altitude gain and the remoteness of this trek, and I can proudly say that Bikat Adventures is one of those few.
When I got to know that my next assignment was Parang La, I at once jumped to grab this opportunity.
I took a day-long bus to Manali and within blinks, I was off to Kaza with the rest of the participants.
It was my fourth time through the same route within 3 months, but the curvy roads and the tall barren mountains of Spiti always amaze me like the Goddess of some divine power.
Entangled in my thoughts, we reached Kaza late in the evening where we met our trek leader, Manjeet, and planned for the next day.
After a cosy stay at Zangchuk hotel, we were bound to wake up fresh and rejuvenated the next morning. A small negotiation with our cab driver, and off we went to explore Komic, the highest village in the world connected with a motorable road, the highest post office in the world at Hikkim, and Asia’s highest bridge connecting Chicham and Kibber, and of course, the Key Monastery.
Chicham welcomed us with its warmth of Spiti culture. The cosy white mud houses with steam pipes running from bottom to top- it was all so unique for city people. We treated ourselves to some of the local delicacies at dinner.
It was drizzling in the morning- not a good sign but yes, we had to go for acclimatization walk and trust me, this one turned out to be the hardest days of the trek.
We started at 10:00 in the morning. As we reached the halfway, the light drizzle converted into the downpour. It was so cold, but our target was to reach till the cave that was situated 400 meters above from where we started. The muddy trail got converted into slush, and we were struggling with every step, but it was required. Surprisingly, we all made it to the cave. Yayayyy! The cave is known to have some ancient wall paintings of swastika and human forms. After lunch we started descending to the village where we dried our clothes in the organic farms and rested for the night.
Our prayers were answered, and the weather was clear next morning. The owner of the Tara home stay honoured everyone with the ‘Kathak, a white scarf given to honour the guests’ and waved us off for Parang La.
We left the metallic road behind at Dumla and shook hands with the barren mountains and rough terrain for the coming 8 days. The trail had skull points of wild animals, and we could see the Kanamo peak shining brightly in the afternoon sun. It was a moderate climb, and we made it to Thaltak camp site by 1:00 pm. After a brief session on tent pitching, we left for an acclimatization walk. Wondering why is it worth mentioning? Because that was the only trail where we found the fossils, and not just one or two but the whole lot of them. Books mention of how the Himalayas were under sea, and that Spiti’s land has fossils of marine animals- well, we saw all of that we our own eyes.
We started the fifth day of our trek with an early morning yoga boost which later turned out to be very much needed and celebrated the Independence day. We descended down around 400 meters until we reached a river bed from where the real hike started. It was a steep climb followed by two moderate ones until we reached our next camp site, Borgrojen. As soon as we reached our camp site, we had our dinner and went to sleep, as the next day was the pass crossing day.
Tossing and turning in my tent, I was feeling breathless, but I knew that it is just in my head and I am going to make it tomorrow.
As the day light broke in, we got the news that one of the participants has to be sent back due to health conditions. It shook us all, but that was not the moment to get emotional. Funny it is, how you become friends in just 2 days and the departing hurts you so much. Everyone felt the punch, but we had to keep going. I gathered my guts, told my new friends that we have to make it and we are going to make it.
That day I got the best example of team work. The whole team synchronized their pace, motivated each other, and we all made it to Parang La top, well on time and absolutely fine. Deserted from one side and totally covered in snow, Parang La Top is one the most beautiful passes that I have been to.
We tied the prayer flags, got clicked and started our journey down the glacier and crevasses. It took us almost three hours to cross the glacier and another two hours on barren land to reach our next camp site, Kharsa Yoma. It was a good day, we all were happy.
The tough part was over and we all were relaxed. The seventh day of the trek was the easiest one. We started late in the morning and reached our next camp site, Datang Yoma, by afternoon. Playing cards in our dining tent, teasing each other for no reason and laughing out loud became our daily activity throughout this trek. Our tired souls slipped into deep sleep under the tipper tapper of mild showers over our tent.
Day eight was more strenuous than what we expected. The trail was mixture of ascents and descents, but we enjoyed the view of barren valley and the dusty mountains, negotiated some shallow streams and reached Phalam Pada camp site well on time.
By now we were used to the day-long, continuous stone crushing sound beneath our feet, the constant view of barren mountains and no sight of any plantation, but the ninth day of our trek marked the beginning of changing scenery, however trifle it may be. Firstly, we had an amazing experience of Pare Chu river crossing where we were submerged till our waist line, and then we entered into the Ladakh region and finally got the glimpse of vast grassland. Truly, before this trek, I had never appreciated a patch of grass, or the trickling water from the stone mountains, but this one was different. In this trek, every site of green was a breath-beholding view because such sights were so rare. We camped at Norbu Sumdo and utilized our evening time to explore the surroundings.
We were really happy to camp at Norbu Sumdo. It was so beautiful and then we were told that the next campsite is going to be even more amazing. That acted as a fuel the following morning, and we reached Kiangdom camp site before the lunch time. They were right. We camped right next to the Tso Moriri Lake. Hurriedly we finished our lunch, and the rest of the time was spent traversing the shore of Tso Moriri until we were called for dinner. The sunset hues by the lake side were a straight-out-of-postcard view. The golden mountains were soon painted with the silver moonlight, and it was hard to pack myself inside my tent, but I knew next day was going to be a difficult one.
We had to walk 21.5 kms on the last day of our trek. The sun was blazing hot, no vegetation around, zero sight of shade, no water points nearby, just a long deserted walk in Ladakh region. We got sun burnt, we got tanned, we made train-engine way to keep us moving, we sang motivational songs, we did all crazy stupid things one can think of, to get past the deserted land as quickly as possible, and finally we saw Karzok, welcoming us with wide open arms by the shores of the pristine blue Tso Moriri Lake.
We checked into our home stay, got freshened up and well, the rest is a blur... we partied the whole night.
Next morning we boarded our cabs and off we went to Kaza with thousand plans of meeting again! Bidding adieu!
Usually when trek ends, everyone gets nostalgic. Parang La was different because I knew the bonds I made on this trek are going to remain and for sure I am going to stumble upon these souls again... soon!