Streams, Stones and Showers : An unusual trek to Hampta Pass


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Re: Streams, Stones and the Showers!!

Good one bud.. Super captures !! Subscribed, hooked & looking forward to the next set :grin:


Re: Streams, Stones and the Showers!!

Superb writing, ultimate clicks....... Good job Aniket....
Keep going buddy....I'm glued......waiting for more.....

And I feel........hiring 3 bullets would be a better option....... :grin::grin:
Re: Streams, Stones and the Showers!!

A big sorry for being late in posting further, Had an Event at office so got busy there. Here is the next leg:

Day 4: The trekking begins, so do the Showers : Manali - Prini -Jobri to Chikha

A morning like this should come daily. A right blend of Curiosity, Expectations and Fear. Curiosity about the terrain, Expectations of great views and Fear of the weather Gods. There was a Look-Forwardness on all of our faces. The day started with a fast track packing. More of dismantling if you ask me. :grin: A herculean task of splitting our luggage into "What is needed and What is not". We had had enough time with our rucksacks to realize that we cannot trek with such a weight. After laying off a lot of erratic goodies :grin: , the bags seemed to be manageable. (PS: Note the phrase "seemed to be")

Had our breakfast at regular Paratha junction and had a morning market stroll. Now, it was just the wait. Wait for a vehicle to ferry us to the Jobri - the place where we will leave the road and civilized world for next 72 hours. Don't know about the others, but this aspect about a trek excites me the most. "Leaving the world behind.. To find a world within!"

My lens-buddy was getting restless, so I chose to feed him with some pictures of the guesthouse and around:









At about 11 AM we started for Prini. We were greeted by our Guide for the trek "Buddhi Ji", a middle aged local guy with a "never back down" air around him. Not to miss his aviator glasses that gave him an army man resemblance. The road that takes us to Prini goes through Old Manali. This is a Manali I had never seen despite coming here for 3rd time. Simplistic lives, Apple courtyards, humble people. The lives here seems so serene, away from the race against time. Drinking in this feast for the eyes, we reached Prini in no time. Here we meet "Polu Thakur". He was the one whom we were coordinating with so far. I had been picturing him like some corporate lead, after all he was the man who organizes all the treks around Manali. Seeing him I realized, how wrong was I. A very simple man, untouched by the business Ho-Halla! Trek and Tourism is in wonderful hands. At-least in this part.

We dumped our unwanted luggage here. Polu promised to take care of it. He then formally introduced us to Buddhi ji and asked us to go ahead to Jobri and begin the trek. He will follow with another group. We took his leave and resumed our last road journey towards Jobri.

This road journey was worth the last one. Rough roads(exactly the way I like them), hoards apple of apple trees, and a drizzle. So, the rain Gods greet us finally! Suddenly Buddhi ji asked the driver to stop and got down to pluck some apples for us. I was touched. Probably it was his own farm from where he plucked them. Still, such a warm gesture. I could see some trekkers already. They seemed to be trekking from Prini to Jobri rather than going by the road. I wondered who maintained this road in such a remote place.

My curiosity was answered soon. Welcome to Hydro Power Electric Dam, Jobri. Looked like a big project. Photography was prohibited, so I dont have anything to show about the dam.

More remarkably, we leave our civilized world here and begin our trek. It was raining heavily now.. :(:(. We stepped down from the vehicle and ran to a roadside hotel/Tapri to take shelter and get into rain protection mode. A hot cup of tea was meant to happen. Some snaps at Jobri:








As our time approached, rains subsided and made way for us to start our trek. And the trek begins.

Trek from Jobri to Chikha

We were told by Buddhi ji that today's trek was going to be a very short one. Just 2-2.5 hours of trekking and also considerably easy. We had entered a nature trail full of Deodars and Chinars. It really looked like a scene handpicked from some bollywood flick. Cool breeze blowing throughout, not letting us get tired. Even the terrain was quite a comfort. Didnt look like a trek at all, more of a stroll through everything nature can offer.

Soon we reached first stream crossing. But the bridge here was quite well built to cause any concern. It is this bridge that looked like a bridge that connects civilization to the wilderness. And after crossing it, it gave a feeling of "World Left Behind". Captured the moment:


Hereafter the trekking went on like a joyride. There were clouds all around us, as if hanging from the cliffs and mountains around. We also came across numerous small streams flowing along our either sides. Raincoats were still on but they had started making us sweaty and hence I removed it. And as soon as I did, l rain Gods unleashed their second round. This time, we were hit. Specially me, who had to a lot of workaround to save my camera from rain.

Some snaps:





Soon we had to cross another stream and this time, the bridge was more adventurous!! Game-On!



I was left behind after this bridge crossing as I was having a Gala time with my camera and whole of my group went aheadin a strive to reach the camp location early. This was a time when I was by myself, clicking a lot of photographs. Soon, I could spot some cattles and a lot of mule-dung under my shoes. I sensed that as nearness to the camping area and started follwing mule dung to each there. :grin::grin:.


It was indeed a lot of shit. The rain had made it more troublesome. Finally, I could spot my people from a distance and took some long shots from there:





So, day One trekking is done!! We have reached Chikha camping site :supz:

One cannot ask for a better camping site! A waterfall in the backdrop, a stream flowing almost touching our tents and mystical surroundings!! I wish it was a little sunnier, would have had a magical experience! It was nothing less than that anyway.

The kitchen tent was already in place before we reached (Thanks to the mules). And Buddhi ji was already engaged in cooking Maggi for us. Come On, this is a world class service at quite a remote place.

We dried ourselves (Rain had stopped :)) and changed into comfortable clothes and started pitching our tents. There were 2 three-men tents at our disposal:


As soon as our tents were ready, Maggi was served! Sitting by the stream, watching the crystal clear water and feeding on hot tasty Maggi with a backdrop of mystical surroundings!! This is Life! This is Heaven!



Sinking in the overwhelming joy of just being there, we spent some time in chatting and sometimes just communicating with the ourselves and the magical surroundings.

Here is a picture of me, a rare occurence provided that I am the cameraman generally:


Some time later, we thought to test our tents by just sitting within and posing for a Groupie(Ofcourse, except me) and spent rest of the daylight in playing cards and just roaming around.


Soon, Buddhi ji came up with next meal of the day, and guess what it is still not dinner. Hot and welcome Soup was served and we relished ourselves as the dusk fell in.

Rains were on and off, mostly in a form of drizzle. Night fell in sooner than expected and it was pitch dark all around. I decided to use my tripod and get some night snaps and was lucky to get a few worthy shots:


It took a loot of effort to focus my camera on the tent (involved lighting up a torch near the tent to focus on its light and then switching it off to take the snap.)


Wondering about the source of light within the tent? Here is the answer:


It was dinner time already but Maggi and Soup were still inside us. We ate whatever we could manage. The food was finger licking good! Buddhi ji is indeed a great cook. Despite our stomachs full, I couldnt resist having more of it.

Now came a challenge. Washing our utensils! The only source of water : the stream. The chilled water of stream. Do not have a choice, just breathed in and went through the ordeal.

The day was coming to an end. How much ever we resist to stop it from ending, the time has its own pace. It was 10 PM by the time we had our daily doze of "Diamox" (Just a precaution against AMS) and got into our cozy sleeping bags.

Sleep was evasive. After a lot of gossip and chit chat, I fell asleep. But it wasnt for long that I was waken up by Dhanno at about 2 AM in the dead of night.
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Day 5: Trekking from Chikha to Balu-Ka-Gera

It seemed, I had gone into a limbo. It was a while before I realized where I was. Am wrapped up in a Sleeping Bag inside a small 3 men tent with all our luggage lying around. And it was raining cats and dogs outside. Raindrops pounding hard on the tent's Nylon rain cover.
What was I doing here?

I could barely move, I was so tightly packed in the warm clothes and sleeping bag. But something was moving beside me. Almost stirring me awake. It was Dhanno's hand. And now everything came into focus. As if someone had turned on the Autofocus of my mind. :grin:. I sensed her voice too. "Aniket, uth na.. Mujhe jana hai..". And I sleepily replied, "Aj bahut baarish ho rai hai, kal jana.." :D

She wanted to go out to attend "call of nature". That too, when nature outside was having its own call!! :-s. But that wasn't her problem. Her problem was fear of dark. "Gals!!":mad:. Meanwhile Ashwini got up too and she too felt an urge to go out. Problem solved.. I asked both of them to carry a torch and attend their alleged call. Once they were back, I felt, I need to go too.. :(. Lesson learnt : Diamox should be accompanied by an Antacid!!

Nevertheless, while I was out I realized the hard way that it had been raining constantly. The question looming in my head was, whether we will be able to trek in such rains tomm.? Infact, the question was "Will I get any pictures in such rains?". The sleep was hard to come after that.


I woke up by voices from other Tent. It was 6 AM already. And it had stopped raining. :). Dhanno and Ashwini were awake too. Voices from the other tent of Sandy sledging Swasti meant that other three were awake too. I stepped out of my sleeping bag and tent and had a waft at the fresh air. It was unbelievable. It was unbelievable to have slept in open in such heavy rains. The tents were really good!!

And since the rain had stopped I had a go with my Lens:



Indra Dev's Fort (As per local legends)








Well, this was the only moment in the complete day or should I say in next 2 days that I got some sunlight. But at least, we are good to proceed for the trek. All daily chores done, Buddhi ji came up with awesome Aloo Parathe as breakfast and Bread-Jam/Butter plus Boiled eggs as packed lunch to be carried with us for the day. We relished on Parathas and packed up our Bags and tents. We were ready for Day 2 Trek.

We start the day by crossing the stream following Buddhi Ji's instructions "Cheetah ki tarah cross karo..":


We had to gradually trek uphill today. But I was not bothered by that at all. I was looking at the surroundings. We were surrounded by a large variety of flowers all around. It was amic the famed Valley of Flowers. Light was not great, and rain kept on and off. But I kept on clicking whatever I could. Here are a few shots (none reflect the actual galore though):






While I was capturing these, we realized that uphill was growing steeper.. And Ashwini had started facing breathing problems already. Heavy bags on our shoulders and constant rain were adding to the difficulties. Not to mention, the path was also slippery at places. It had become more of a Monsoon Trek. The uphill was gradual. We pit stopped at frequent intervals and I kept taking photos whenever rain allowed me to:










Soon we reached a plateau. We could see the complete valley from this point. Also, I pointed out Horses carrying our tents and kitchen coming from a distance. I could speculate that we still have a long way to go as these horses will cross us and reach the next campsite before us. And this definitely will take some time. Ashwini was already very tired. We all were worried for her and were pushing her at every point.

Up ahead, we had to descend for some time until we cross a waterfall. Yes, you read it right. There was a narrow edge which we had to cross by walking along the face of a mountain and there was a small waterfall falling from the top of that mountain. I was transported to childhood Tilasmani stories where all powers/shields are lost when the Hero crosses a waterfall with magical properties. There indeed was something magical about the waterfall though. It energized us all. It’s all in the head actually. If water had any such properties, we had been walking amidst a downpour since morning.

While crossing the waterfall, I was wondering, how horses will cross these narrow edges, full of slippery rocks. Answer was not far away. We reached a point (can be termed a plateau) from where we could see the narrow edge and waterfall that we had crossed. And I waited there to see the horses cross it.

Here is what I saw:



We took some more rest here and had a part of our packed lunch and other dry-fruits etc. Tranquility of the place was unquestionable. A stream (Rani Nalla) was gushing through the rocks and we were all surrounded by beautiful flowers all around. I just wished for a little sunshine.


We all in our lives keep wishing for sunshine when it is raining hard. And for rains when the sun is burning hot. I think, some things are better when they are incomplete by some means, at least we have a scope for wishing. Soaking in this incomplete tranquility, we marched ahead to seek completeness.






I was trying to capture a red colored unique flower and when I saw the picture in my camera's Screen I spotted a beautiful butterfly sitting right behind the flower I just captured. I wasted no time and focused my 300 mm Lens on the butterfly and captured it beautifully:



After walking for what seemed like eternity, we reached the much talked about river stream which we had to cross by walking through it. Are you kidding me? That was the expression when people tested the temperature of stream water by dipping a hand. Shoes and socks cannot be allowed to get wet (As if they were dry:mad:). So, the best way was cross it barefooted with shoes tied by lace around the neck or thrown the other side with a risk of getting flown away as a result of a miscalculated aim..:p

I chose Option 1. There was another group too led by Poluram. Both our guides Polu and Budhhi Ji insisted on forming human chain to cross this stream without getting toppled over by force of flow accompanied by freezing water. I also had an overhead of saving my camera from getting wet by any means. Well, I wouldn't say how cold the water was, because I do not have a word apt enough to describe it. And actually, does it matter? After crossing half of the stream, the legs become numb enough to feel anything thereafter. It was ELECTRIC!!!:Hangman:

Let Swasti's and Sandy's expressions speak the rest:



This also became a point where the horses overtook us. Advantage being, I was able to capture them crossing the stream, which they did very effortlessly:


One amazing thing happened after crossing the stream, Ashwini recovered completely from here breathing problem. Only explanation that we could think of was that freezing water had sped up the blood circulation in her body thereby reducing the oxygen demand.

It was thick waist length thorny bushes after that. Also, horses had really been easy at shitting after crossing the stream. The trick was to find the path not traversed by Horses. Flowers and stream were still all around us. We also spotted some local people camping in these bushes possibly on "Herb Hunting". Some captures:





The locals camping for Herb Hunting






According to our guide, we had to reach some glacier and camp very near to it. After walking endlessly, sometimes on plain terrain and sometimes a slight uphill, we spotted a glacier from some distance. I used my 300 MM lens to get a zoomed in picture:


But it was still at least an hour's trek away. I had lost track of time by now. Clothes were all damp due to constant on-off rains despite all the rain-coats. Horses might have reached and all I could think of was hot maggi and soup prepared by Buddhi ji. He had gone ahead with the horses to setup the camp. Roshan(the junior trek guide) was the one along. Some steep uphills later, I could feel the heaviness of my sack. It was getting weary now. Mainly due to rains. Photos kept coming:




In some time Roshan told us that it was merely a 15 minute trek now. Those 15 minutes took 30 minutes for us and lo, the camp site was finally in eyesight. The location was more beautiful than the last one. Only, the tiredness and rains didn’t allow us to soak in the beauty of the place. It started raining heavily by the time we reached the tents which were all pitched and ready with our sleeping bags. Most parts of our sacks were wet despite all the rain covers. This was the last picture I could get before stepping in the tent, never to come out after that.


Buddhi Ji welcomed us with hot tea and maggi. We were hungry.. We were tired.. We were soaked. So weary that even hot, sumptuous maggi couldn’t cheer us up much. Ashwini was in bad state. She needed rest. Cold, Rain, Less Oxygen, heavy sack (Though it was carried by Roshan almost half the way) and the terrain all had taken a toll on her. A lot of time was spent in making an effort to dry our wet belongings and making our tents ready to dwell in for the night.

The rain was unstoppable. Buddhiji served us Soup in some time, which we drank wholeheartedly. I had given cough syrup to Ashwini and made her sleep. I caught some sleep too. Dhanno was in another tent while we slept. I got up around 6 PM and went to the other tent. Nothing warms you up more than cozy chit-chats that happen in such conditions. Only talking to each other makes us forget all the weariness. The talks went on till 9 in the night. Later Ashwini also joined us. We actually woke her up on a pretext that she wouldn't get sleep in the night if she overslept now. We all had dinner in the same tent. All 6 of us in a 3 men tent.. :D. Some extra warmth is always welcome. We didn’t eat much, or better to say, we couldn't eat much.

Finally it was bed-time. Everyone had a bit of fever due to altitude. We had our dose of Diamox (with an antacid today). Kapil was adamant on not taking any medicine. He was heard quoting "Meri body apne aap adjust karegi, mai nai lunga dawai..".. We forced him to take it though. We moved to our tent. Dhanno and I continued our chit chat till late in the night. Ashwini woke up whenever we took her name in our conversations :D and slept again when we didn’t tell her what we were talking about. Sleep finally fell over, to be broken in a few hours again. It was Dhanno and her fear of dark again!!:mad:
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