It was a weekend and my birthday so I along with a friend decided to spend the weekend in the hills away from the maddening crowd. Our initial destination was to camp at Winch Camp which is highest point in the Joginder Valley region. We packed a few clothes, sleeping bags, a tent and stove with Butane Gas and were all set for our little trek to Winch Camp. We boarded HRTC Volvo from ISBT Kashmere Gate which departs at 21 : 27 from there and is scheduled to reach Joginder Nagar by 9 am in the morning. En route, we met with a massive traffic jam somewhere before Mandi as a Volvo bus had broken down. This resulted as in getting delayed by a number of hours and it was already 12 pm and we had still not reached Joginder Nagar.
We were compelled to make last minute changes and suddenly the idea of Bir Billing came up on our minds. We reached Jogindernagar by 2 pm and had not even had lunch by then, were already a bit exhausted by the long extended journey and having little information about Winch Camp easily available on internet, we decided that we would now do Bir Billing rather than what we initially planned. We were easily able to find a cab in Jogindernagar which charged us INR 500 till Bir and took us less than half an hour from there as the distance is a mere 15 Kms. We asked the cab driver to drop us somewhere close to the point from where the trek to Billing starts as we were still enthusiastic about Trekking a bit since we had come with that mindset. Before embarking upon our little trek, we decided to freshen up a little and eat lunch at Boya Kitchen which is probably the nearest cafe to the starting point. They quickly prepared our Fried Rice while we changed our clothes a bit and got ready. By the time we set off it was already a bit late and the cafe owner cautioned us to not wander too much and beware of wild animals especially bears on that route.
Trek Route from Bir to Billing
As we found our way to the trekking route there was a group which was returning back from Billing and were rather surprised to see us begin our journey at that hour that too without a guide. Nonetheless, there was no looking back from there for us. We followed the path along the stream as told by a couple of people and did not face much problem for the first couple of Kms. We did face a couple of road blocks especially when the path led us into Meadows and we were unable to track the trekking route. We did lose our way on a few occasions because of the same reason but were still on track by the time it was 5 30 pm and we came across a small settlement with a couple of houses. We met a local out there and asked him for directions and hoped he could guide us a bit as the path ahead seemed more complex than the one we had covered. Running against time, we even contemplated using his service now to make us reach Billing as we did not want to end up getting stranded middle of nowhere with wild animals at Bay. Without comprehending much of the direction that he gave us, we marched ahead in search of finding our lost trail. For the next hour, we just hoped that we are on the right track though our gut feeling said something else. Finally it was 6 30 pm and the sun was setting and we had more or less resigned ourselves to the fact that we would end up camping somewhere out there. But the terrain was quite rocky now and the Meadows were behind us. The trail which we were following seemed to be leading up deeper in the forest. We looked across the stream and on top of the mountain could see some signs of a road. But that climb seemed very steep and there was no proper route. There seemed a spot which could act as natural shelter and we decided to go there first and hoped we would be able to camp there. But upon reaching we realized that the spot was not at all suitable and being close to the stream, the danger of wild animals was all the more great. My friend and we looked into each other's eyes and realized that the only choice we now had was to climb up the hill and reach the top where the road was there. Without wasting much time, we briskly walked in that direction. It was not an easy climb at all especially the rocks we're lose and we really had to be very cautious about our steps. We slipped a couple of times, got some bruises but there was no looking back. The scariest was when after about an hour we had almost reached the top and were roughly 10 steps away from the road, that the rocks gave way to patches of grass and climbing almost vertically up, we had to take support by holding the grass in our hand. I almost slipped twice but we finally managed reaching all bruise and battered with our clothes tattered. As soon as we reached the top, we were lucky to find a cab driver who laughed at us when we told him about our route. He dopped us at Billing near the meadows.
Camping for the Night
The wind was rustling when we reached there and I was so exhausted that I felt that the wind would push me and I would just drop flat. While my friend looked for a suitable place to camp, I sat in a Dhaba and finished almost a bottle of Limca and devoured chips and chocolates to get some lost energy back. Finally, we decided upon a place where away from the camps and other tents and yet not open enough to face all the wrath of the heavy wind. After pitching our tents, it was time to rejuvenate our souls with some beer and snacks while we prepared Maggi for dinner. Soon we retired for the night without attaching the fleece on the top to get a beautiful view of the stars and moon from our tent all throughout the night