First Trek of My Life and Discovering Chalal

Tripoto
13th Apr 2017
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What do you do when all of the three friends who you plan a trek with, ditch you for that long weekend plan? Cancelling is not on my list of options and although I travel solo often, this once I didn’t want to go alone, being a totally inexperienced trekker. So I called up my brother who was at work and asked him to accompany me. After I got to get his confirmation by agreeing to sponsor his trip (Despite the fact that he earns and I don’t), I got myself company who I brilliantly made use of as a personal photographer and the one to deal with the tantrums. So we booked our tickets for the next day, packed our stuff in school bagpacks (Due to lack of a rucksack and the always available option of *jugaad*), charged the battery of the camera and were all set for this adventure.

The journey and Day 1-

Day 1

We took a night Volvo from Chandigarh and reached Bhunter at 6 a.m. from where we took a local for Kasol. We had a little idea that Kasol is crowded and there is a place Chalal that comes on the way and is a much better option for a stay. So we enquired from the local people and got off four kilometres before Kasol at a temple from where a way leads into the valley. We crossed a bridge which gave us those ‘Gori Tere Pyaar Me’ movie feels (For those who haven’t seen the movie, a reference is being made to a swinging scary bridge, in fact most bridges in rural areas that dwindle and swing as you walk, so much that you keep saying to the sky, *Bhagwaan aaj bacha lo*). We crossed the bridge and found a trail next to the majestic Parvati river that had cafés and guest houses by its sides. We chose a nice little guest house that looked more like a hostel and it cost us just 500 bucks for a room per night. The manager Siddharth shared his name with my brother and was very hospitable (And I can’t resist mentioning that he had a brilliant American accent that depicted his experience in job and with travellers).

We freshened up and got dressed. At ten in the morning we walked out to explore the place and stopped by a café nearby for breakfast. The food was good and hygienic although it was bland for Punjabis like us but the best thing this café offered was various kinds of tea. We tried ‘Mint lemon’ and ‘Cinnamon black tea’ which was out of this world and something that totally suited the cool weather. We headed out to catch a local for Kasol and since no bus arrived we started to walk. In another twenty minutes we were in Kasol, the beginning of which is marked by guest houses, cafés and shops selling woollens and accessories. Honestly, we kept on walking looking for that ‘special thing’ the place was famous for but found nothing. Only to realize later that it is all about weed and stuff that we (me and my brother) were not into. So we walked the entire market to discover woods in the end which led to Parvati River. This was the best part about Kasol. For fifteen minutes I simply sat there watching the ever powerful and high spirited river Parvati that flowed in full fury through the forest. There was a group of college students around and my brother got busy in clicking pictures but I simply couldn’t feel anything except for admiring the view. I sat for a good fifteen minutes before coming back to my senses and realizing that it was all so real. When my brother was done, we took some pictures of each-other and then some more in the woods that surrounded the area. On our way back I did some street shopping and started looking for a nice place to eat. Kasol has plenty of cafés but not a calm place for people like us who don’t smoke and were there for fresh air and not more polluted one. We finally found a place called River View Restaurant which had below average food (The quality was good but they had no idea about the recipes and ingredients). But since we were extremely hungry, we hogged onto some White Sauce Alfredo Pasta and something we got in the name of Manchurian (Trust me it was not Manchurian). We then headed back to our guest house, again a four kilometre walk down the road and crossing the swaying bridge yet again. We changed into pyjamas and sweater as it started to get cold and went to the café where we had breakfast for some more tea. This time I ordered Lemon Honey Ginger tea and it blew off the whole world with warmth and goodness. We ordered a cheese toast on the side and since we had a late lunch and a tiring day after the night travel, we retired to sleep at around eight after setting an alarm for five a.m., the next morning. It was supposed to be the trek day!

Day 2-

Day 2

Alarm rang at five and I shook my brother thrice before he finally woke up. We freshened up and skipped the bathing routine because *Oh my Gawd Thand* and checked out from the inn. We were told that the local for Barsheni (which was the starting point of the trek) shall pass at 6:30 in the morning but the bus arrived around 8. We waited at the stop and played with the friendly dogs who probably came to us in hope of food (but we ourselves didn’t have any). We took the bus and reached Barsheni, admiring the views of the valley and snow-capped mountains all through the journey. Since we hadn’t had anything for breakfast and needed a good deal of energy for the trek, we chose a place that served paraanthas. And the paraanthas were the best of all meals I had had during the trip so far. Their aloo-pyaaz paraantha served for a mere 30 bucks was enough for a whole meal. I had it along with lemon-mint tea. Meanwhile we charged the battery of our camera and then walked towards Parvati check dam point which was one kilometre ahead from Barsheni.

We finally started our trek at 11. I basically divided the Kheerganga trek into three parts. The first is from the starting point uphill till the village Nakthan which also has a number of cafés. A lot of trekkers stop here for refreshments. The village is typical of actual life in a Himachali village. We had a fifteen minutes break and started off after having some Gatorade (It is moral support, of course) and bananas. This first part of the trek was not very tiring may be because it was just the start. The second part of the trek was from Nakthan to Rudranag. This was easy and not very draining with both high and low slopes. We passed through various water streams and even filled our water bottles from one of them. The water was extremely cold and refreshing. We reached Rudranag at around 1:30 p.m. where we were delighted to spot a waterfall. We took a longer break here and didn’t miss the opportunity of taking pictures for that dope Instagram profile. We tried relaxing our feet in the water which to our surprise was ice cold. My brother couldn’t handle it and stepped out instantly which obviously provided me with opportunity for more pictures to be clicked by him. We stepped out from the waterfall area and ran into two of my brother’s friends in whose company we carried on the remaining trek. We started from Rudranag to realize that the real trek has just begun. The slope gets real steep after Rudranag and it is mostly a rocky path where you are prone to skid with every step. The path is full of sand that makes it even tough not to slip and is more of a challenge while coming down. Some places you even need to climb the bigger stones where there are no steps. We thought we were almost done but on enquiring we realized there were three more kilometres to go, the toughest ones for the energy was almost drained. Also we had our bagpacks on and a tent along with another side bag and camera. Being normal bagpacks and not a rucksack, our shoulders were strained even more. Taking several one minute power breaks, we finally reached the top at 4:30 in the evening. Although our initial plan was to get into the water springs as soon as we made it to the top, we had no energy for the same. So we found a suitable spot for the tent and crashed into it with no idea of anything else in the whole damn world.

My brother woke me up around 6:30 and it had started to get cold after that. I was hungry after the trek so I chose a café out of the many similar ones and ordered some Chinese with hot chocolate that just suited the weather. My brother had ordered chai and it was again the best milk tea I’ve ever had (Of course I had half of his share as my hot chocolate hadn’t srrived so far). I had no idea that it could get this cold during the night and so did not carry any jacket along. I had to make do with only namesake sweater I had and a hoodie from my mom’s track suit. So we thought of setting up a bonfire. I collected the wood from around the place and my brother set up stones in a way that wind may not disrupt the fire. Meanwhile some guys from Delhi came around in the hope of sharing the bonfire and I told them they could do so if they help me collect firewood for the same. They not only happily obliged but offered us rum, hookah, weed and whiskey, everything they had in their party collection. They played some songs on their Bluetooth speakers and I gorged on their packets of chips and some rum to make through the night. I retired to sleep inside my tent while my brother probably enjoyed with them for a little more time. The sleep was a tough task because we were sharing a single blanket hired for 200 bucks for the night with great deal of pestering and requests from a café aunty. Since it was a long weekend, Kheerganga was extremely crowded. There was a black for tents, blankets and places to sleep. A lot of people got none and spent the night by the bonfire and hurried back down as soon as dawn arrived. We were lucky to have got our own tent along.

Day 3-

Day 3

I woke up the next morning to the sound of crows that were even banging into our tent. Winds blazed around fiercely and it was a task to get out of the tent. We however mustered courage and freshened up and started for the temple, five minutes upwards way where also lay the hot water springs. Leaving my brother in the men’s side I walked as swiftly as I could to the women’s side, ignoring all the unwanted views of men and boys bathing in a pool of water and outside, which was not at all pleasant, trust me. The women’s enclosure was covered and I changed into swim wear and excitedly got into the water. To my surprise it wasn’t warm but actually hot that you cannot take it at once. But if you persevere, the body soon gets adapted to it. As I got deeper into water I realized that I had got sunburns on my shoulders for not keeping my arms covered during the trek upwards. And I also discovered I had wooden pricks in my fingers from collecting wood in the dark last night. Gifts from a trek, I thought and closed my eyes and lay there for a while. It must have been long for when I came out after offering a word of thanks and gratitude in the temple, my brother told me I’d been in there for more than thirty minutes. But those thirty minutes in the hot water spring was a cleansing of my mind, body and soul and probably the only thing for which I would like to trek Kheerganga again.

We packed our stuff and the tent and returned the hired blanket. Before starting for the trek downwards we ordered chai and had biscuits to get some doze of energy. We started the trek downwards at 9:30 and reached Rudranag by 10:45. I fell by slipping over the stones and sand in total five times during this part, despite the fact that my brother held by hand all through the way (And everytime I fell we had a little fight as he said I don’t know how to walk and I said he was walking too fast and pulling me. Teeeheee!). At Rudranag my brother and his friends had this crazy idea of bathing in the ice cold water of the waterfall and I had no issues waiting. The more time I could get here, the better. I even spotted a Shepherd with his herd and played with the little ones of the sheep family. After that we started again for Nakthan which was an easier way and I didn’t fall here. We had a little break in Nakthan and completed the rest of the trek (I fell again during the last part). We reached the starting point of the trek at 1:15 p.m. and gasped for breath. After another kilometre walk to Barsheni we again ordered paraanthas from the same place and I rested till our order arrived. By this time I was totally broken. My back hurt from carrying all the stuff we had and my feet had sores. One of my little toes was swollen (Trek gifts, I thought again). The real sadness struck when we didn’t get a place to sit (Rather stuffed ourselves in a fully packed bus of tourists and travellers) in the bus from Barsheni to Bhunter, from where we had our volvo booked for the journey back home. So we endured all this and I got a place to sit around Manikaran. This journey seemed to take a lifetime as we reached Bhunter at 5:30 in the evening. I had no energy by this time and simply wanted a place to lie down and sleep. This was a little distant dream because my bus was scheduled at 8 p.m. So we chose a Chinese restaurant to snack and charged our phones there. They served us with traditional momos and thupka and I ordered chai later on. We left for the bus stop at 7:30 which was a five minutes’ walk away. The Volvo bus stop was in a fruit market from where we grabbed some good apple beer that drove away the tiredness a little. Our bus arrived a little late and departed at 9:30. We had dinner at a place where the bus stopped and all thanks to the comfortability of the bus (Or may be the exertion we had gone through), we slept and woke up only after we reached back Chandigarh, with a heart full of amazing memories and the SD card with hell load of lovely pictures. More than anything, a set of experiences to last a lifetime! I’d advise everyone reading this to take at least one good trek while you are young, and take many more if you love your first experience, which I am sure you will. You shall undergo a journey of self-discovery and realize that a trek is so much more than merely climbing a mountain!

4 Comment(s)
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pictures are too goood
Fri 06 16 17, 11:07 · Reply · Report
pictures are good
Fri 06 16 17, 11:06 · Reply · Report
The left foot follows the right, heavy exhausted breaths, bringing in the essence of life slipped between the cool mountain air. The sound of blood gushing through the veins and then there is the mind, trying to take it all in. These are just some of the many never felt before feelings that I was able experience in my first trekking expedition. Through this vlog, I hope I can make you feel just a glimmer of what I felt. https://youtu.be/k_h0kqr_Cks Hey im starting my new YouTube channel here is my first video as travel vlog plz do check it out and give your suggestions
Mon 04 24 17, 00:53 · Reply · Report
Nyc written article with some amazing set of pictures. Cheers gal. U rockd it
Sun 04 23 17, 04:26 · Reply (1) · Report
Thank you so much ❤
Sun 04 23 17, 04:32 · Report