Rupin River 1/undefined by Tripoto

Rupin River

Manglam Bhaarat
5. रुपिन नदी, हिमाचल प्रदेश
Hrishikesh Baruah
This was turning out to be a blockbuster day. The landscape just kept on throwing more bouts of colors and surprises on us, and we happily embraced it. Happily hopping and making our way over small rivulets we reached Udaknal, our campsite with Rupin river on the right and a blossoming forest overlooking a valley on the left.It was cold here. Colder than the previous camps. Touching water was a nightmare; fingers were getting numb. While Anoop and Seran went to check out the broken snow bridge that was not very far on the Rupin river we collected dry woods & put up a campfire. The fire kept us warm, we also decided to have some by fun. Bring on Antakshari! I got the ball rolling, and soon everyone were in their musical best! One after another chartbusters were sung out to everyone's smiles, before we broke for dinner. Nothing like some steaming hot roti, chawal, dal and sabji in freezing conditions. And some soan papdi to finish things up???? Time to run back to our sleeping bags for a well deserved sleep.Day 5: A Walk through Colourful Meadows, and Finally the Rupin WaterfallI woke up by 5:30 am to an absolute cold surrounding. It was bloody freezing. Someone told that it was almost 0 degree at night.As we all struggled to brush and do our plates with icy cold water we also managed to un-pitch and pack our tents.Today we trek to Dhanderas thatch, or more commonly known as the Lower Waterfall camp. That picture that you see when you google Rupin Pass, that pic on Indiahikes' coverpage, that pic that instantly made you sign up for this trek. Yes, we trek to that place today. Let's go let's go!Rick promissed us that this will be yet another beautiful day with amazing meadows albeit trees or forests. We were dying to feel sun's rays falling on us but that will not be till we reach Buras Kandi.Realised couple of horses ran away at night! Yeah even they didn't appreciate the cold maybe. The horses were to carry the offloaded backpacks. This lead to some delays and the porters and the guides decided to take the extra bags.Also, there was one more tricky situation. We were to walk over the snow bridge to the other side. But since it was broken we had to find our steps through the river.Ascending our way we soon met flock of sheep. "Meh! Meh!! Meh!!!", is all you can hear around you. Fantastic sight! There would be 1000-1500 sheep in a flock and 4 shepherd dogs to man them. The dogs will make sure all the sheep are following the line, and if any strays away the dogs would bark or push them back in line. Sheer brilliance! The shepherd would just follow the entire flock at the back, not bothered much. Great start to the day.We were badly gasping for some sunshine to fall on us as it was chilly. Few steps up, few down and we were out in the middle of the valley with the Rupin river navigating its own path on rocky trails. Brrrrr! We were still reeling under cold breeze. As has always been the case we were at the back of the pack and we could see the other trekkers already halted at an elevation. And as Harsha said, "Stay Calm, and Walk Slow"!That's Buras Kandi, from where you start getting the magnificent views of the snow peaked mountains.This was to be the most chillaxed day of the trek, yet extremely rewarding with the meadows and views.Tall, lush trees now started making way for red-rusty meadows. All the pics that I saw of Rupin before zeroing down on it was completely different. Green meadows in pics now turned to rusty-red and yellowish in front of our naked eyes. An incredible sight wherever you see. The colours all around are so vibrant and loud."Hrishi, udhar dekh (Look there)" out came a scream from Anoop. "Whoa! That's one huge piece of ice!!! Lemme have a closer look!" I exclaimed.We all just dumped our bags on the trail started running up on our right to have a closer view of the ice. It was massive. And one heck of a spectacle. So big that you could feel your voice echoing standing underneath it. Not to mention it was slippery and dangerous."Chalooooooo, wapis aao (Come back)". There's the voice of Arvind calling us back. Also the sun was straight up on our head so some catching up to do here with the rest of the pack. Gathering some momentum we reached our lunching point. With the serene Rupin river flowing discreetly and the Rupin waterfall in the backdrop this was arguably the most befitting lunch spot ever. I'll let the pics do the talking here...The only consolation for eating cold rice and sabzi was the spot that we chose to eat. Some took a power-nap, some decided to chit-chat under the basking sun.Moving on we had to cross this massive snow bridge. Prahlad, Rick, and Arvind told us to be extremely cautious since 1 wrong step (on thin ice) and you're straight down. As exciting it may seem it's treacherous to walk on snow, specially when you've not put on your spikes. You see, I fell down hard twice on my bums!Few climbs up and the view of the Rupin waterfall is crisp and next campsite visible. The very thought of camping with the Rupin waterfall in the backdrop can take away all the feeling of exhaustion right away. We kept walking towards it and the views got more prominent and majestic. I'm in heaven...I just dumped my bag in the tent and simply rejoiced by seeing the sheer grandeur and beauty all around me. No phone signal, a scene straight out of a fairy-tale, and some noisy trekkers revelling in some high altitude cricket. When was the last time I was so happy? Time, please tick slow.The campsite is a massive valley with big-small waterfalls cascading from all sides to form the Rupin river. Wherever you see its all postcard-ish landscapes around.As it started getting dark it started getting cold as well. Out comes all our layers, gloves, mufflers, woollen hats. Darn, its frighteningly cold out here now! And then Arvind with a sly grin, " Upar toh aur bhi zyada thand hogi " (It will be even more colder up there)! We had gulab jamuns for sweet in dinner. I had 5 (or 6 ? Never mind)! Makes me wonder, the higher we go the tastier and exotic the food gets.Everyone is summoned for next day's briefing. Its clear; tomorrow's gonna be the toughest day of the trek. And by far the toughest actually. So what awaits next day? You see that Rupin waterfall that I've been writing so much about, that has like become my inspiration for my travelogue, whose views are simply knocking me off my senses every time I gaze at it? We climb it tomorrow!Day 6: The Day of Reckoning"Shite! How am I suppose to climb THAT waterfall? Raasta kidhar se hai chadhne ke liye bhi (Where's the trail to climb)?" was my feeling. All hell in the world's gonna break loose!We woke up to a bone rattling cold morning greeted by near-ice water in the bucket to wash up. My pale fingers should have just snapped and fallen off!All these 4 days of trekking and acclimatization will be put to test today. Today's trek was to only ascend. Its simple; we climb up the waterfall and reach Rata Pheri, and summit to Rupin Pass is just a cake walk after that. We'll find out...You can see ice formation all around; plants, drinking water. The guides did all they could to pump us up. We did start enthusiastically. The climb to the waterfall is to the right; a trail set on loose rocks, with small stream of water gushing only to make it slippery.The Rupin waterfall is a 3-stage waterfall. On one side you see the icy-cold water just gushing all the way down, and on the other you can see the trail that you have traversed till now from the top. Here as well one has to walk over a ice-bridge over the waterfall. Yikes!After crossing the snow bridge while the rest of the brigade marched up Anoop me and Rick decided to do a bit of exploring. We went a bit closer to get some better view of the mouth of the waterfall. One can notice the icicle formation all right below the waterfall. Few minutes clicking here and there and we are back on the hike.We reached the Upper Waterfall campsite after some pain-staking climb. Had it been Summer we would have camped here. But not today. Sourabha was completely exhausted, but she pushed herself. We were walking at a snail's pace, completely tired and also relishing the grand views. Rupin, we ain't quitting today!Arvind was there all the time with us even when the rest of the pack were way ahead of us. Salute to his patience. Such a humble guy he is, he was very supportive of our efforts and would encourage us with his words even when we though we would falter.This was turning out to be a never ending ascend. But efforts comes with rewards. For the first time one can see majestic snow capped mountains all around. Indeed a sight to behold.After some back-breaking climb we finally saw some tents, only to realise that's not ours. Arvind told that we now have to camp a little ahead. So finally we reached Rata Pheri, and this is how it looked...Seeing the campsite not only had a mesmerizing effect on the mind thanks to the serene spot but also brought a mighty relief to the body. My shoulders were now in agony thanks to the 9kg rucksack. But ain't no time to waste, coz exploring your campsite is important.It gets so bloody cold that by the time tea reaches our tents from the kitchen it gets cold. Sourabha was feeling a little dizzy so she restricted herself inside the tent to get some rest. It was a pretty little campsite with mountains flanking you from all sides. Absolute delight! And when sun started setting the mountains shone up...We tried playing Mafia inside the dinner tent but quickly gave way to piping hot food. Without much adieu all of us jumped into our respective tents for an early night off. And man it was cold out there.Day 7: Day of ReckoningMorning couldn't have come any sooner. Today's the day when we shall summit. Till now no one has dropped out of the group, and we were hopeful everyone would make it to that hallowed top.Today was also going to be the longest day of the trek. Approximately 10-11 hours. Dreaded already I was. We started by around 8:30 am for the summit. Shouldn't take more than 1 hour to reach the top.Started off by 8:30 am the trail was a 60 degree climb to the summit. Add to that loose rocks and gravel till the top only made it more perplexed. We had to check our grip each time before making the next step. While the rest reached the top much early and carried on as well we took our own sweet time.As we inched closer we could hear cheers and celebrations of trekkers who reached the top. This only charged us up to go even faster. We gained momentum and here we are.At 15,250 ft. we are at the highest point of Rupin Pass. We did it. A jubilant mood all around. We hugged, congratulated each other, and danced around on the accomplishment.The view on the other side of the Rupin Pass just blew me away. It was windy and fresh snow lie all around. Mt. Kinnaur-Kailash and Dhauladhar mountain ranges were all glittering out afar. This day would provide some astonishing and jaw dropping views all around. An awesome feeling????That fresh snow was so tempting. That we decided to have some fun. We did some Juguza, our trademark ' Happy Feet' dance, and a lot of fun sliding around. Rick and Arvind were asking us to be back on the trail, but we were behaving like kids who saw snow for the first time!????I was a having a wonderful day. I was ecstatic, in 7th heaven. I will do less of talking here and instead let the pics below give you and idea of things that unravelled.