It was with palpable relief bordering on triumph that we reached the Thamser Pass on 10th Sept, 2017. A couple of days earlier we had traversed the pass as we trekked from Bharpet Got to Upper Marhi but this time it was different as inclement weather, incessant rains and hailstones and the threat of snowfall at the mountain pass could have maroon us in the River Ravi valley until the snow cleared. The Gods were on our side as we cleared the pass and trudged down to our camp site at Bharpet Got albeit in the dead of night.
Our team management underestimated the degree of difficulty on this stage of the trek or the slow pace of the inexperienced trekkers among us compounded by the rarified atmosphere. They had estimated we would reach our campsite at Upper Marhi by 4.00 or 5.00 pm; we actually reached as late as 11.00 pm. For several torturous hours we trekked on the rocky mountain path with the help of small torch lights. The next days we took a day off and on the following day decided to set off at 5.00am to reach our camp site at Bharpet Got before sun down. But the rains spoilt our plans and we could leave for our return trek at 8.30am only, predictably to trek the last few hours in darkness once again.
The degree of difficulty and the pain we experienced did not however dampen the sheer joy we experienced at the magnificent landscape all around us.
For me this was the first time I was trekking over a glazier and that I finally did so gave me immense satisfaction. Perhaps the icing on the cake was that one stretch was considered too slippery and we had to traverse that length with the help of ropes.
Here are a few more pictures of the natural beauty that was a feast for our eyes.
The trek from Bharpet Got to Panhartu was the shortest and should I say the sweetest of our trekking adventure. It took us just around three hours and after the mental stress and fatigue of the last few days this was exactly what the doctor ordered as balm for our ruffled minds.
Hordes of sheep bleating their guts out greeted us at the camp site almost as if to say, whose site is this any way. Rams stood watch over the flock at strategic points.
While the most endearing sight were tiny little lambs being carried in sacks on the back of the mules.
The trek from Panhartu to Palchak Jori was a mixed bag. On our way up we traversed a glazier and then reached a rocky stretch. We clambered over the large boulders for a while before the lead trekker said we were on the wrong path and had to make a precarious return. The roll of thunder and the first onslaught of rain was the last thing we wanted. Luckily the rains subsided and thankfully returned only after 6.00pm by which time we were safely in our tents.
The return had tricky stretches and some torturous trekking over rocky terrain before we hit more comfortable trekking paths.
A view of the glazier we had to cross on this leg.
At times we crossed paths with herds of sheep and it was only fair that we gave them right of way.
A Sheppard’s tent along the way also gave us lamb cuddling opportunities.
The landscape at these heights, around 3000 metres, has a beauty of its own.
At Palchak Jori our cooks made for us a delicious mutton dish cooked over a slow wood fire and this with rotis cooked over a wood fire and dhal and onions was a very special dinner indeed. Most of the food on this trek was simple but wholesome and served hot. There was little to complain on this front although I lost about 5 kilos on this trek.
The trek to Rajgunda was the easiest we encountered. A walk in the park you could say with broad paths and gentle slopes. Nevertheless there was beauty around us. At these altitudes we see more trees and the resultant mist making for magical scenery.
Camp life had a bit of card games and vociferous rounds of antakshri. Some of the members of the group were very good singers with a large repertoire of songs.
Bir is a quaint little town with a couple of Buddhist monasteries places to eat and handicraft and apparel shops. We had a couple of days of relaxation here before we returned to Chandigarh and from there to our respective stations.
Some of the group grabbed a narrow opportunity that the weather permitted to take a para gliding ride from Billing to Bir.
It was a tough trek with moments of intense stress and difficulty but at the end of the day we have loads of memories to take with us and stories to tell our grandchildren.