I used to think about being an astronaut, but I became a traveller instead. I get to explore planet earth and that is kind of the same thing. Isn't it??😋
Well, traveling isn't only about seeing new places, adoring its beauty and getting out of routine... It is the most modest way of learning... To know different people, culture, Places, food and of course the way of living. I like to call my self a mountain person and I actually mean it. Traveling in a luxurious way just for the sake of entertainment is not my cup of tea.. I prefer scaling the giant mountains, walking on the trails and getting amazed by the thought of knowing how tiny I am... 🙂 Best part about scaling mountain for me is that it allows me to stay away from the materialistic life, think about present only and live for today only... 😉
The idea of scaling something big was wandering into the mind of my friend and so in mine too.. So, having heard a lot about the giant SARPASS trek, we made our minds to hit it this year.. We booked our treks via YHAI trekking organisation for the date of 8th to 18th June 2016.. Booking was done in the month of April only and the excitement was at the top for the days to come..I don't remember anything else that I had given my thoughts in those days except SARPASS. Meanwhile, I had to pass my engineering exams, so little burden was there to irritate me.
All the requirements were being packed into the bags as days were passing.. One thing that troubled us while shopping was the shoe selection. Few suggested us to buy forclaz500 while others suggested to buy some another big brand. Omkar gathered relevant information from somewhere and we decided to buy cheaper action trekking shoes that cost us merely ₹800. And I'm happy that I didn't go for ₹5000 forclaz500 shoes.. Action trekking shoes did well and in last one year I have done numerous treks with the same shoes and they are still doing well..
Day for the departure arrived and we were high on our happiness. I, Siddharth and Omkar boarded on Chandigarh express on the 6 th of June from Mumbai onwards.. Neha joined us from Delhi next day. And our first selfie together got clicked😀.
Another 4 hours journey from Delhi took us to Chandigarh. I remember how transformed I was, from the place I know to the place which was completely new for me. I had been there in Chandigarh back in my childhood, but gratitude for this place was very much new in me. We had our dinner that day in the chandigarh and the famous "punjabi Lassi" was at the top in our menu.😉
Later we had to head for the Bhuntar, which is the place 60 km before Manali. We began to hunt for the cheapest travel option and finally realized that the state transport buses are the only cheapest options. They cost ₹375 per head where as, other private travel options were asking for ₹ 800 per head... Well we had to adjust our comfort zone in state transport but as I mentioned that the luxurious travel is not my cup of tea and same is the thing with my friends.. infact we are the travel mates.. the travel buddies.. And our thoughts matches very well when it comes to travelling.
So we boarded on overnight bus at around 8 pm and the entire ghat region cost us 8 hours to reach the Bhuntar. We reached Bhuntar at around 4 AM and suddenly I felt that the heat was disappeared.. It was damn cold and I realized that I was in the mountains.. As the sun raised higher and the dawn arrived, we saw the huge mountains around us and that surprised me.. I didn't expect to see them when we arrived at the Bhuntar while it was dark. Next, we had to head to the Kasol, which was our base village, and was nearly 40 km from Bhuntar, our hunt for the cheaper travel option began and private taxi's demanded ₹ 400 per head and then we came to know that first bus for the Kasol is at around 6 AM and it costs ₹ 35 per head.. So we settled there near bus stop and waited for the bus to arrive. It was nice and decorated bus whose final destination was Manikaran village which is further 5 km from kasol. "Manikaran" is a very well known for the famous gurudwara and the hot water springs..
The entire 40 km journey to the Kasol was in the ghats and along the river parvati. The entire 2 hours journey was full of Serene views.. the gurgling of the river parvati was so pleasant to listen to. Bus dropped us very close to our base camp and the first view of the base camp was amazing..
8th June:- Our first day was reserved for reporting. After reporting we were free to visit nearby places and so we headed towards the Manikaran eagerly to see the most famous gurudwara. What makes one wonder is the hot water springs in the gurudwara which are naturally occurred and it really is a blessing to wash yourself in those springs in super cold weather. We had our lunch ( at every gurudwara they offer food to every visitor) at the gurudwara itself . We did our journey to and from gurudwara on our foot so we were really exhausted by the long journey followed by the long walk.
YHAI has a very good policy of bonfire which is carried without burning wood but by decorated lamps every evening. They believe in conserving the nature and that is really good initiative. But that didn't bring feeling of bonfire is another part of story. That evening, the group which had reported the previous day, has to give send of to the group which is leaving next day for trek. So group SP34 performed for the SP33 and that was really entertaining. We all were off to bed in our tents after having born Vita milk.
9th June:- I was flaunting the flag at the summit and suddenly loud whistle woke me up from the sleep to make me realize that it was 5:30AM in the morning and it was call for the morning exercise. Thakur ji ( our one of the guides) took us away from our camps in a wide ground where we followed basic exercises taught by thakur ji.
Our first three days were infact for the acclimatization and we were having our 2nd day at the base camp. After returning from our exercise we had our nutritious breakfast and we were given long introduction about the policies of YHAI and the rules to be followed during the trek. Rest of the day, we were free to roam around so we headed to the Manikaran again that day but this time we were accompanied with few of our group members and had become friends.
Tonight we were to perform to give send of to SP34 as we were SP35. I recited one my poems and everyone applauded for me and that gave me recognition😉. Our other members also performed mimics and dance and it was fine evening until we received news that one of the members of SP33 that had left for the trek yesterday is died of heart attack. That left us all shocked and threatened because it seemed to have happened owing to altitude but later we came to know that the person was heart patient. We all were sad at the incident but somehow managed to concentrate on our eternity.
Today, we were scheduled to have rock climbing and rappelling session and so were off to the spot with our trainer and learned our lessons for rappelling and rock climbing. It was thrilling experience. After returning from the session we went out to roam around and explore the village Kasol. Kasol is really beautiful village. We did some shopping and tasted some food at Kasol.
That evening, we collected our rucksacks and packed our important stuff to carry with us from next day onwards. All other stuff was left at locker room and we were off to bed little sooner that day.
Today we woke up early morning and were given break from the morning exercise and did last minute checking for anything that may need during trek. Other groups SP36 and SP37 gave us quick send of by forming long lines on both sides and clapping in the combination of 1 2 3.. That was really awesome experience.
Our initial walk was on the asphalt road which gradually disappeared and we were on our trail, disconnected from the messed up world and happy for being with soul. Most importantly, as soon as we entered into the forest, no mobile network was available, so there was no need to sink in the phone which helped me and I guess everyone to pay attention to the nature, every single minute.
As we approached our first higher camp, Grahan, after strenuous 6 hours trek, we encountered with the village Grahan, which was last village we had seen for the next 4-5 days. Cute little children at the village made my day.
Our camp leader at Grahan welcomed us with hearty smile and we were given hot tomato soup as a welcome drink. I loved YHAI's welcome drink concept a lot.. :p.
Occupying ourselves in the tents, we wandered around the camp, taking pictures and gazing at the beauty of mountains.
After having our nutritious food and milk, we were off to bed to recharge ourselves for the tomorrow's trek.
We headed for for our next higher camp at around 8 AM after having our breakfast and collecting our packed lunch. We were already told that today's trail is full of surprises and serene views. We encountered many beautiful waterfalls, short but sweet. Flow of water was too fast that we were wondering the rate at which the snow is melting at the pin parvati peak.
After 6-7 hours of trek, we reached Padri, our next higher camp, located at 9700 feets. Padri was most beautiful camp amongst other camps during summit. We spotted many half eaten bodies of cow and Buffalo which alarmed us about the wild animals in the region. We were adviced to stay in groups and not to go far away from camp. But anyways we enjoyed the surrounding with open heart.
As we were gaining height everyday, it was inevitable that trek was getting tough. Today we left the Padri camp at around 8:30AM. Our today's trek was difficult and we were heading to the Ratapani camp which is at 11200 feets. Excitement was totally high as we were never at that altitude before. Many beautiful scenario encountered us today and we were pleased for being there.
Weather was cold than ever today as we were at an altitude of 11200 feets.
Today we were scheduled to reach to our highest campsite, Nagaru, at an altitude of 12500 feets. We had heard a lot of stories about Nagaru that at the nights, wind storm has destroyed all the tents several times. We were not at all hoping for that to happen with us but we were excited to be at that place. Today's trek was short but the entire distance was steep as hell. We left Padri little late so reached Nagaru at around 4 PM.
The good news for all of us was that all mobile networks were available at the Nagaru and that made us emotional, since we haven't speak to our families since last 4-5 days. I called my mom , dad and sis and they all were pleased to hear me and happy to know that I'm doing my trek without any difficulty. Everyone was busy on their phone and suddenly all the fog disappeared and in front of us was the giant Pin Parvati peak that left us speechless. However the fogless moment was for few seconds only and no one managed to click it's picture properly. But one of my group member clicked my picture from my behind when I was busy on my phone.
The view that came standing in front of pin parvati peak was awful and awesome at once.
The biggest problem at the Nagaru today morning was that our toilet tents had gone so disgusting by the last 34 groups that no one had courage to visit for nature calls.
Today was summit day and we left Nagaru early morning.
We all were excited to witness snow and experience the summit and after one and half hour of walk, we reached the snow trails. Everyone got busy clicking photos of the scenario and we also clicked our group pic.
For a moment, I got myself little away from everyone and I started observing everyone, oh my god, I cannot express how much happiness was glowing on the everyone's face despite of being tired by the strenuous trek last few days. That's the mountain's magic I thought.
No one can realize why it's worth climbing mountains until they climb one.
I clicked few pictures as well and few of them made me proud on my own photography.😉
So after passing the SAR lake, 13800 feets, that's what SARPASS is, although there wasn't any water since it was frozen. we started descending to our next campsite that was at an altitude of 11000 feets, the Bhiskari Thatch. Thatch means the plateau.
We were congratulated by the camp leader at Bhiskari Thatch for successfully summiting the SARPASS.
Now Bhiskari Thatch was something that made me feel that choosing himalayan trek was absolutely right decision. After witnessing the surrounding serene views, I was left surprised. If I could control everything about my life, I would chose this place as my home, I thought. But then I realized that the greediness of human being has already disturbed the nature of mother earth and if humans started settling at these mighty mountains, then the entire beauty will be manipulated just for the sake of our ergonomics which we human beings use to call "development".
Anyways, I'm here to live it for while only and I shouldn't waste this moment thinking about something else, I thought to myself and kept gazing at the snow capped mountains from which the breeze of air was coming, kissing the peaks.
I'm falling out of words to explain it's beauty and even trying to do so would be the insult of those serene views. So I'm letting the pictures speak the rest.
Today we left for our last campsite Bhandak Thatch. We reached Bhandak Thatch early afternoon, at an altitude of around 8000 feets. Being our last day of trek, we decided to do something that we all were missing. Cricket... Yes, we made a ball from cotton clothing and bat from wood and had a great match. I cannot forget those matches we played at an altitude of 8000 feets. That is a kind of record for us, I must say.
Those fainted memories of last day are so sweet and I wish I never forget them.. those people, those days, those memories are in the past, but they are always there for me in my bad times, to bring a glance of smile on my lips.
We left Bhandak Thatch early in the morning and were dealing with the last leg of our trek. After a short trek, we reached Barsheni, a small village from where we were transported to base camp at Kasol, via Manikaran by bus. We were welcomed with tasty lunch after which we deposited our rucksacks and packing our bags, we took leave from the bliss of 10 long days.
We were going away from our new friends, and that was hardest part I must say. The hardest part of travel is saying goodbye to new friends that you may never get to meet again. But we had to move. We all have to move on.
We reached bhuntar that evening and had a warm sleep at a guest house. Next day we did rafting at kullu village, which was 14 km long and was an ultimate thrill.
Next evening we boarded back for our homes.
When I slept on my pillow at my home, everything was same, my home, neighbors, friends and whatever you name it. Something that changed was my mind. And that's a good change I must say. After all that's what travelling is all about...