Miyar Valley trek exploration!

15th Aug 2022
Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal

Like most trekking tales, this one also starts in Manali. After a long bus journey of more than fifteen hours with a three hour break in between to eat some delicious Punjabi food in Chandigarh we slowly arrived in the winding roads leading to Manali.

Day 1

And with that I had finally made it back to this town after more than four years to explore Spiti. This was the trip that would finally fulfil my Spiti dream and I was super excited as my fiancé also agreed to do a travel trip instead of a rock climbing trip he usually does and takes me on.

From the bus stand, we went to a friends place, freshened up, cooked some brunch and by 1 in the afternoon we headed back to the Mall road in Manali to get details about the bus to Spiti the next morning. I was in for a surprise- no buses were running as a landslide had broke down bridges and parts of the road. Only smaller vehicles and bikes were able to pass for now. Heartbroken, I realised Spiti was still not to be checked off in my checklist

As we enquired further, we found out that buses were going towards Lahaul side and since we had heard about the Miyar valley and had to explore that region also, we decided to go for it. Spiti or Lahual, same same I thought in my mind.

Day 2

And so the next morning, we were in a bus to Udaipur which was the closest bus stop to the sub valley which leads to Miyar. From Udaipur, we took a shared taxi half way, crossed a massive landslide which removed all signs of the existing road and finally after hitching a ride with a local we made it to Khanjar.

Now since we had planned on doing Spiti in a budget, we had a tent and our sleeping bags, but our food supply was limited. Luckily, when we reached Khanjar, we discovered that the trekking company called IndiaHikes had a batch running the next day to the same trek. And since both of us had worked for this company we knew either one of us might know the staff. And as luck would have it, Yash knew. And just like that, we got a hot lunch, packed dehydrated food and even milk powder. And also the mental assurance that if we ever got lost on our trek, they would be following with a batch of trekkers behind.

Crossing the last village -Shukto

Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal

And so we started our trek that very evening. Since I wasn't acclimatised to the high altitude, I started panting within five minutes of the uphill walk. And since both of us were walking on this route for the first time and neither of us knew when the campsite would arrive, though they had told us it would come soon after the last white house, I started panicking. There was no campsite and I was getting too tired to walk.

Luckily, within half an hour, we came across a nice wide meadow with a stream flowing through it. We had found our campsite just before darkness. As he pitched the tent, I caught my breath and soon we were cooking a hot meal on our butane gas.

Day 3

The next morning, when we got up we were surrounded by more than 300 odd sheeps! These sheep's were returning from the pastures further in the valley after spending two months there. Slowly two shepherds also arrived and four Himalayan mountain dogs.

Sheeps in the campsite!

Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal

As the sheep's marched ahead, we cooked a breakfast of bread, eggs and butter. I then decided to hide a few shirts of mine under a rock there as I felt it would be unnecessary weight on my bag. Meanwhile Yash's bag weight more than fifteen kgs as he had the food, the tent and the water. But I was the one reducing weight with my sleeping bag and dry fruits bag!

Soon we started trekking and after crossing some beautiful dry landscapes, a lot of Juniper bushes and a gompa, we arrived at our lunch campsite- Thorang.

We set up the butane under a big boulder and cooked some of the dehydrated Kichadi we had. Reducing the weight of the backpacks was of importance, so was feeding and hydrating ourselves. All these campsites had streams flowing from the glacier above, so water was not scarce.

Cooking under boulders

Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal

We then kept walking, trusting the Mapsme app on my phone and reached a huge meadow by 4 in the evening, We wanted to walk further to the next official campsite but since we were tired and it started raining, we pitched our tent in this meadow. Luckily as we were pitching the tent, we saw two shepherds in the other end of the meadow, giving me confidence to pitch there for the night. A dog soon arrived, and sat outside our tent the whole evening. In the rain.

Day 4

The next morning, the dog accompanied us as we started our trek. We walked till evening this day as well, walking on steep cliff edges, looking at the raging river flowing down and passing a few more shepherds with hundred of sheep's around. One thing about this landscape was the lack of trees and wood, so to keep warm they had to dry the dung and use it as fuel to even cook meals.

The best part of the trek was that the trail was gradual, without too many steep ascents or descents, giving me the energy to walk a lot. We walked along side the river at one point, almost touching its water and finally arrived at our last campsite. Beyond this there was a major stream crossing, which the shepherds told I couldn't do after 12 in the noon as the water flow increases. And so we pitched our tent again, behind a boulder to keep us safe from probable rock fall in the night.

Resting before the stream crossing

Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal

The sky finally cleared up a little on this day and we got to see the snow capped peaks beyond. And then we went to bed, mentally preparing for the next days stream crossing.

Day 5

Nothing could have mentally prepared me for the stream crossing. I have crossed many streams before, but this was the first one which was from the glacier waters and though it wasn't deep, it was wide. There were many small two meter streams with gravel terrain in between. If we went further up to the source of the stream it was narrow, but fierce. Down here it was wide, but calmer. And we decided to cross early, so we were there by 6.45AM. And the water was COLD.

We tried walking across with our shoes on, but there weren't enough rocks for me to jump on. So Yash asked me to remove my shoes and socks and cross the stream by foot. I removed, without any idea of how cold the water would be.

What on earth are these extremely cold streams

Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal

The minute I stepped in and took four steps, despite the warning from Yash, I bawled. It was so painful, something I had never experienced before. I couldn't do it. I walked back to the shore we came from and started crying a little!

Somehow, I slowly went ahead with shoes on, jumping rocks until I reached a stream where I had to remove my shoes again. This time mentally I was better prepared and we crossed this wide stream successfully and happily put on our shoes. We had taken an hour to cross 400 meters.

After a small hike to Zardong and then Paplu, I was very well prepared to cross the other stream. I walked without my shoes like a pro, without screaming anymore. Also since it was past 10, the temperature wasn't as cold. We left our bags in the tent which we pitched before the second stream and started walking to the final part of the trek.

The landscape changed and huge boulder rocks were present on one side of the river. Soon few blue lakes appeared. And we then climbed the boulder hill to get a birds eye view of what was beyond, the lake and the glacier. And then we started our return journey, unto the first stream.

While Yash was willing to cross this stream at 3PM, I wasn't. So we camped by the stream and witnessed a magical starry sky that night.

Day 6

We then walked back, 17km in 12 hours. I twisted my ankle within an hour after we began our trek back, took a painkiller and put a crepe bandage and we walked. We met another girl who was trekking alone and she accompanied us half way.

After lunch, just as we thought we had finished covering all the stream crossing and we had bridges ahead, we came across this -

Water broke in despite the bridge!

Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal

Yash went ahead first, slowly trying to see the depth and the force of the water while we girls sat on the bridge, wondering when this would end. After removing our shoes again for the tenth stream crossing, we finally made it to dry land. And continued our walk back, this time without the crepe bandage.

It was past ten in the night when we made it back to Khanjer, and had a meal of hot dal rice in the homestay. My ankle was swollen like a balloon, but I had no pain. Which is why I walked. We were too tired to sleep, but we managed to twist and turn until dawn.

Day 7

After a hearty breakfast of Aloo pararthas, we took a taxi back to Udaipur. Since the bus timings are not frequent, and the girl wanted to head back to Manali as soon as she could, we booked a taxi from Udaipur to Manali.

And with that, my so called Spiti trip came to an end. What a trek it was, although unplanned, we realised it could be done. Life is full of surprises, and this adventure was one fantastic surprise.

I still look at all streams as crossable or not in my mind, two months later as well!

Photo of Miyar Valley trek exploration! by Neha Ballal