Most of us have invested time in making a list of places we want to visit – thanks to Instagram, daily reminders from social media on “road trips to do before 30”, notifications on “ideal spots for family vacations”, emails from travel companies claiming “pictures bound to drive away your mid-week blues”. We as humans are bound to get influenced – say we want to do Everest Base Camp because a friend from work, who also happens to be an avid traveler, has been there. Or wish to go to Bali for honeymoon because the neighbor went and the pictures came out gorgeous.
We all have such propensity. For those who have been following my blog, know that I have traveled and trekked quite a bit in last 4 years – mostly to the places and mountains that have been explored before, regardless of how well they were explored. But recently, something happened that changed my whole perspective on traveling/trekking.
I caught up with a friend (who also runs a travel company) after a long time and we decided to go on a trek which is least known – Mural Danda peak in Pabbar Valley. Initially I was skeptical but when we actually started researching on Google Maps I was sure I have to attempt this one.
Mural Danda is the end point of Baspa range which can be seen from Sungri on State Highway 1 (Rohru-Rampur). It can be accessed from all sides but is most approachable from Sungri – Dalgaon side.
This 4 day trek is most famous for the caves you get to explore on the way to the Peak. And it is untouched and unexplored till now. Only a few natives of Pabbar Valley have made it to the Peak.
The trail crosses through Rhododendrons and Oak forests and leads to quite a few alpine meadows. Here is the itinerary we followed:
Day 1 – Shimla to Sungri (first campsite)
Day 2 – Sungri to Ropra (Base camp)
Day 3 – Ropra to Mural top and back
Day 4 – Ropra to Sungri to Shimla
You tend to forget everything when you walk amidst a forest where birds are chirping and there are beautiful Rhododendrons around. It’s serene – also because there is absolutely no one around you.
We packed our food, carried our tents, trusted the Google maps and reached Sungri, the first campsite. My friend kind of knew the water source will be close because the peak was still snow covered. The trail to Sungri is an easy walk in the fields. You will meet the locals working in their Apple orchards.
We had our packed food and called it an early day.
The next morning was just like any other morning in the mountains – Lush green forest and a gorgeous sunrise. After breakfast, we started our climb to Ropra. I must say that getting to Ropra was quite challenging for me. The trail after an hour’s climb got steep.
There are a lot of meadows one will encounter on the way to Ropra. Just when I was about to give up, I saw the caves. I was excited but scared. That was the first time I was getting inside a cave. My friend alerted me there could be animals or birds inside. I gathered my courage and entered. There was water dripping and I could hear the birds. And the next moment a bird approached me at the speed of light – did no harm to me and went outside. I lost my courage and came out of the cave with a bad headache. It wasn’t altitude sickness. I was shit scared.
We took rest, had energy bars and started our journey. Ropra is a beautiful campsite with breathtaking views of solid Rocky Mountains and some very famous snow clad peaks.
We pitched our tents, cooked food and slept carefree thinking the mountains will guard us through the night.
The next day was the summit day. I was excited to reach the top given not many people have been there. We started around 9 and made it on top around 12. The entire mountain is known for its herbs and exotic wild species which we experienced on the way. The top has a ground big enough to play cricket. It is a wide green area with 360 views of the adjoining mountains.
I will let the pictures do the talking.
After sometime we started descending to Ropra. We didn’t stay at Ropra or Sungri. Descended down to Sungri and drove back to Shimla from there to save time.
I was feeling proud and smart of myself for choosing this trek over any other. Not because we went to explore all by ourselves and saved money but purely because I did a trek which was not commercial at all.
How do you trap a big monkey in a small cage? Easy! You place a banana inside the cage. After this trek I realized that most of the trekking companies operating around us know how to trap monkeys like us. The monkey can set itself free if it lets go of the banana.
The problem with a lot of trekking companies these days is no one wants to open treks which are lesser known. If you Google search Kedarkatha trek or Chadar trek (or any other famous one), you will find 10 different companies running that trek. But if want to read about Mural Danda or Sissu Lake or any lesser known trek, there are only 1 or 2 companies operating them.
It’s because of the companies that the adventurous side of us has died. We would rather pay 20K to someone for a famous trek than pay 10-15k for a totally unexplored place.
Let go of your Bananas – You never know where your “Explore!” point is until you get there.
The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become
– Charles Dubois