“The mountains are calling and I must go” - John Muir
It’s always a great and peaceful experience soaking in the grandeur of the Himalayas.
Day 1: Reporting at base camp, Ramsu
As mentioned in my previous post, I planned for yet another Himalayan trek. And this time being Chandrakhani trek in Himachal Pradesh which was finalized after considering the fact that it was a shorter duration trek and at a location we hadn’t been before, despite it being an easy one.
Well, that was the plan until I along with my trek friends reached the base camp at Ramsu village, after our two days of visiting nearby places. The organizer informed us that he had a meeting with all other participants, before we had reached the camp, and unanimously agreed to change the trek to Bhrigu Lake trek (~14000 ft) due to less snow found at Chandrakhani at that point of time. Apparently, this is considered a tougher trek and has lots of snow on its way and I was more than happy.
The schedule was to start early the next morning at around 6:30am and reach the starting point of the trek in taxis which was beyond the check-point towards Rohtang pass. We slept immediately after making sure to keep our trek requirements for drying. Unfortunately, all our bags and contents got wet while reaching base camp. All thanks to the irresponsible and knucklehead driver who didn’t inform us that the sheet which he covered our bags on the taxi roof wasn’t waterproof. Not a great thing to start the trek with in that cold weather.
Day 2: Trek towards Raoli Kholi
Anyways, the next morning the clothes were dry enough to be packed and we were ready with our bags on and full with excitement. However, the trek guide wasn’t happy with the group’s timing as there was a slight delay.
Adding to his frustration, we hit a heavy traffic towards the check-post and that added 2 more hours to the delay. Yes! That long we were on the road waiting to cross the check-post. We however got down and roamed around taking snaps.
We finally started our trek after a two and a half hours’ delay from Gulaba post. We were welcomed immediately by a steep climb which quite tested one’s fitness and stamina. We crossed some green pastures and small creeks on our way up before we reached a height where we encountered snow patches. The sight of snow thrilled us all and brought in a sense of comfort. However, the comfort feeling was short lived as once we started crossing these snow patches and slopes, we started slipping and fumbling. That surely is a scary thing considering we are crossing some steep areas from which we can’t even see the bottom we might reach if we happen to slip and fall. We continued further for few more hours through snow and creeks. Crossing the water streams was exciting too with intermittent drizzle. We had a lunch break at a nice scenic spot with the snow-capped mountains in front of us covering the whole wide angle.
After a grueling few hours, we finally reached the next higher camp, Raoli Kholi. This is a beautiful place sounded by sloppy mountains and snow in every direction.
We changed into our warm and comfortable cloths, got few instructions from the organizers/guides, had tea and we were ready to explore the area. The stay was in 4 occupancy tents and post dinner our group of 6 got into one and played cards for quite some time. Late night we even explored out in that cold chatting on various subjects. These small things are such a delight when you think back and are something to cherish about.
Day 3: Trek towards Bhrigu Lake
The next morning, I was woken up at 3:30am by the strong winds hitting the tent. I further tried to sleep but to no avail. Finally went out of tent at 5:30am to witness the sun coloring the snowcapped mountains bright and beautiful. These are the very views which make you go to mountains again and again.
We were ready for our next ascend but only 14 out of 27 decided to move further considering the difficulty level and their health conditions. We started crossing snow slopes which obviously got trickier and tougher. We had to be more cautious with our footings on the snow. The group was made to walk at much faster pace and in quick few hours we reached the top i.e. the Bhrigu Lake.
This is a serene place with the partially frozen water body at the center. We reached at the right time of the day as we could get clear and complete view of the peak and the sounding mountains. We walked bare feet to the middle of the lake to collect water, rather snow, in bottle. I bet, nobody could stand more than a minute bare feet on snow.
Within few minutes, we were surrounded by mist and clouds. We had lunch at the nearby spot and were ready to descend. This was much tougher as we were asked to slide down the snowy slopes, similar to the water rides we have in water parks. Trick to control the speed of slide using elbows and not using legs. Using legs at that speed would surely lead to bad falls. I felt this trek better than my previous Sarpass trek in this aspect. This gave around 5-6 slides compared to a long one in Sarpass. I enjoyed completely every aspect of it.
In no time we came back to the Raoli Kholi camp and started sharing our experience with those who couldn’t make it. Later, we played Mafia game which was super fun expectedly. Post dinner we got into tents and continued with our card games as usual.
Day 4: Return to Manali
Next morning, we all got ready and started back descending to the Gulaba post. The descend was quicker as everyone wanted to be head back to Manali to catch respective buses which were scheduled for departure at 5pm. At Gulaba, the group assembled, the guides went ahead with the formality of officially calling it a day and allowed us to board the taxis towards Manali. We reached couple of hours early and got enough time to visit a restaurant for food and also to get fresh before boarding the bus to Delhi.
The expedition was simply outstanding and thanks to my friends: Abhi, Minal, Esha, Mahesh, Siddhu, Abhishek and many others in the group of 27 who made it more enjoyable. The friendship grew stronger, I made new friends during the course and that’s what these treks and trips are all about; seeing new places, meeting nice people and experiencing great things.