When someone asks you "Where are you from?" we speak of our home town, where we were born and our origin. Similarly have you ever looked at a river, a stream or a waterfall and wondered where did all this fierce flowing water come from? Have you ever wished to see its origin? If you have ever pondered over these questions, you are at the right place.
Rated as one of the most coveted treks by experienced trekkers, Pin Parvati Pass is challenging, brutal and absolutely mesmerizing. It is a 120 kilometer walk that comes with its share of risks. The trails are not clearly defined at most places and the routes are washed off by rain and landslides. The trek takes you to and across many glaciers, specifically the origin of the Parvati and Pin rivers.
It was a usual day at work when I stumbled across a Facebook post saying, "Pin Parvati Pass is open". I did not immediately proceed to book the dates. First thing I did was to gather information about the trek, the difficulty level, how to prepare, fitness required and security. Once I was convinced that I was eligible to attempt this trek, I booked the dates.
The next day I packed my running shoes and track pants to work. Every evening for the next 2 months, I ran around the campus for 3 kms, skipped 500 times and walked up and down 7 floors. This routine gradually increased my lung capacity, my calf strength and my overall fitness.
Day 1 and 2 - The initial 2 days was scorching heat. Shorts and a tee shirt was the most one could wear. From Barsheni --> Kheerganga --> Tunda Bhuj the trail was well defined and easy. The gradual assent prepared us for the next few days to come. By the end of the second day, we were at 10,500 ft. It started to get a bit chilly with persistent rainfall. Although Kheerganga was crowded, Tunda Bhuj was fresh and peaceful. The campsite was surrounded by waterfalls on one side and snow caps on the other. It was a sight to behold.
Day 3 - Tunda Bhuj-->Pandu Pul - The first hour into the trek was beautiful meadows, flowers and bright sunlight. Then came the nightmare! As the meadows became thinner, we came across a river crossing. The bridge to the other side of the mighty Parvati river had broken, so we were expected to rock climb. Hence without any secure gears, no rope, no helmet and a backpack, we ascended a rock at an inclination of 80 degrees. After multiple stream crossings and rock climbing, we reached Pandu Pul. The adrenaline rush due to the adventure activities of the day was inexplicable. We had a good night sleep listening to the music of Parvati flowing right below us.
Day 4 and 5 - Pandu Pul --> Mantalai lake --> Parvati base. Slush, streams and loose rocks were the guest of honor. The next 2 days were challenging as the terrain got difficult. The last 1 km before reaching the base camp is called a moraine (glacial debris), and it was the most strenuous but satisfying climb I have done in my life. It took me 90 mins to complete my last stretch. As we were gaining altitude, it became more and more difficult to breath; it became a conscious effort. At the end of the day we were at 16,200 ft, at the edge of a glacier. The campsite was all on snow. It looked like it was straight out of 'Game of Thrones'. It was a long, chilly and sleepless night.
Day 6 - THE PASS - With continued snowfall from previous night, the day began with gloomy weather. It was a mere 3 km walk to the pass but it was the longest walk of my life. Although we spent the night at 16,200 ft, I wasn't quite acclimatized. Breathing became a conscious effort and unintentionally not falling asleep, was the agenda. I could not eat or drink and felt my body slowing down. I was taking time to process and respond. As the entire stretch was on fresh snow, we had to be cautious and place our foot exactly where the guide had walked. The walk to the pass took 3 hours to complete. When we hoisted the Indian flag at the pass, all the exhaustion slipped away and the realization of the accomplishment dawned in.
Day 7 and Day 8 - Base 2 --> Tia -->Mudh-->Kaza - Once we had crossed the pass, we entered the mighty Spiti valley. Spiti was a welcome change in all her vigor. The rain having gradually stopped, we finally saw some sunlight and the dryness was much needed. Although the next 2 days was comparatively easy, it definitely took a toll on our feet. Walking almost 28 kms on rocky terrain is not easy. Finally we saw civilization at Mudh, which is a tiny village at the lap of Spiti 50 kms away from Kaza.
No story is ever calm and happy. The road is always chaotic, filled with detours, loss and rain. Nothing ever goes as planned. Gentle, easy and smooth, do not occur in the mountains. That my friend, is what makes life fascinating. You will have something to tell, something you've walked, something true.