Why is it that trekking and camping hold such a hold on people? Maybe because nature has immense recuperative elements and can provide one with the luxury to bask in its sensation of solitude and peace.
Imagine that India has deep valleys covered with rich and luxuriant undergrowth filled with a vast variety of flora and fauna, how will you rate this experience? simply unforgettable.!
Trekking is all about setting oneself a challenging pace or a strolly one, to enjoy the landscape of wild flowers, grand scenery, local people, breaking up when you please, conversing and dancing, forgetting all worldly troubles and losing your mind and soul to forging new, uncomplicated memories.
Trekking is a popular sport in the Indian states and for exploring the magnificent world of the daunting Himalayas there is no need for training or special equipment. Of course there is physical fitness and an outgoing, adventure loving temperament.
There is no special reason for picking up one particular trek. It is true that the Himalayan eco profile varies widely, resulting in differing weather conditions, terrain, flora and fauna. While the Ladakh Valley specifically Leh, Zanskar and Nubra, offers spectacular and challenging treks, the foothills in Himachal Pradesh, has emerald green land lush with greenery.
Standing somewhere between these stark contrasts, are the Uttar Pradesh hill areas of Garhwal and kumaon. These hills, with towering peaks reaching for the sky and flanked by the mixed deciduous and alpine forests harbour some of the most exotic species of wildlife and an amazing variety of botanical species. One can cross small streams and rivulets on log drifts or take a dip in the hot springs or soak under a waterfall or laze off in the grasslands.
‘The abode of Snow’s is the chain of the highest and the youngest mountains in the world. The interiors of the mountains are inaccessible by road and so they must be visited in the slowest and most intimate manner by walking.
Yet walking in the Himalayas does not require any technical Skill or ability physical fitness is a must. The powers of endurance, patience, and a stomach to appreciate the grand beauty are pre requisites. The glitter of the morning sun on snow peaks still covered in mist; swift streams and lazy rivers; emerald takes and pine forests; solitude and enveloping peace on a grassy meadow covered carelessly with a profusion of multicolored flowers and the silence of a clear starry night, will be all that one needs.
There are trails, which ascend steeply, and paths, which go around local villages, passing through forests of rhododendron which gives way to fragrant stands of Juniper and conifers. It is this very splendour that captivates and invites the spiritual joy that trekkers have found to be alluring.
Himalayas affords trekkers with special interests such as Flora and Fauna, photography, geology or anthropology at all. Trekking have immense possibility of stretching the Trekkers walking hours into an even more rich experience.
Himalayas for the adventurer is a fulfillment of inner strength, mental and physical endurance.
Kullu, lahaul and spiti:
The above form the chain of interest for shorter treks.
The very famous and popular due to easy access in the nullah north west of Manali.
A short drive gets one to the road lead at solang village and a 5 hours. Trek is to Dhundi a green patch next to river Beas. This trek is like a pleasant walk through the Bhojpatre trees and Hanuman Tibba or the Solang weishom can be seen will it’s impressive rock face letting off an occasional stone. The next day’s trek is to the Beas Kund, the source of the River Beas at approx 3,800 meters where you will tend a cirque of peaks.
While only one day is required for Solang, the more experienced and trained can take the Tentu or the Solang Pass which, at 5000 mt. allows to cross over and come back to Manali in 4 days.
Similarly, the other trek goes up to Jagatsukh Nullah south east of Manali. For those interested in climbing ,there is an easy peak called Deo Tibba at a height of 6,001 mt. and a sister peak nearby rightly called the consolation peak, the latter a convenient option if you fail to get to the top of Deo Tibba.
Yes, if one travel further not to Manikaran and access the Tos nullah from the east, one would encounter not only the famous Manikaran spires-excellent rock pinnacles peaks like Dharmasura and Papsura, which, at 6,446 and 6,451 meters are good challenges.
By the month of July, the Rohtang Pass, which is really the watershed between the Kullu valley and Lahaul, opens up and the road journey is itself an adventure. The Rohtang Pass situated at 13,500 feet allows for an excellent panoramic view of the mountain ranges of Chandra Bhaga, Mulkila and the Kao Rong.
Whilst most people start trekking either in school or later in life, one can also go through the experience of undertaking an adventure or basic course in one of the climbing institutes either at Darjeeling, Uttarkashi, Manali or Kashmir. Equipment being a vital aspect, this is available with a few firms like lbex Equipment or climbing clubs or trekking associations also help as they can loan equipment to their members.
Trekking can be taken up at any point provided one chooses the right trail.
One such trail for beginners is the trek to the Beaskund area in Himachal Pradesh and this strikes out form Manali which is now connected via Vayudoot or reachable by a 15 hours bus journey via Chandigarh.
The trail takes the road form Manali to Puchan by bus and then an easy trek of 4 hours to a beautiful camping meadow called Dhundi. The next day is a good walk to Beaskund at a height of about 10,000 feet. This is the bowl from where the Manali, Shitidhar and Friendship peaks can be viewed and indeed ascended if one is an experienced climber.
A middle-aged person can also go on a trek for the first time and combine the religious aspect by taking off to the Garhwal in the Uttar Pradesh hills. A drive of 10 hours gets one to Uttarkashi via Rishikesh and then another day’s bus ride through the Rishi Gorge to Gangotri. A quick dip in these holy waters and one takes the trail to go on to Gaumukh the source of the Ganges which one can reach in 2 days easy trekking stopping to Camp at Bhujbasa which is 16 kilometers from Gangotri and then a short haul of 4 kilometers to Gaumukh. For the more hardy there is a possibility of trekking on to Tapovan at 4,400 meters on the green pasture, which is shepherded by peaks like Shivling, Meru and the Bhagirathi peaks.
For the more experienced it is that fascinating land called Ladakh and Zanskar where a journey is a must. One of the classic routes is the Lamayuru Padam trek, a route of 10 days starting at the famous Lamayuru Monastery and going through the heart of Zanskar over passes like Wanla 3,245m and Hanupatta 4,265m and finally Sirsir La at 4,900m. There are various gompas on the way and through this arid land of colourful mountains (due to different minerals present in the soil) the trekker reaches the far-flung destination of Padum from where it is a 2-day bus ride back to Kargil and back one day to Srinagar.
Excellent opportunities abound for trekking enthusiasts in the hill region of Garhwal and Kumaon in Uttar Pradesh. The season for trekking are between May and June and again from September through October. For years, Countless pilgrims and trekkers have walked about 20 kilometres from Gangotri to reach the snout of the glacier which gives birth to Ganga, one of the most sacred rivers in the country. Only a few bother to travel another five kilometers along the glacier to the breathtakingly beautiful Tapovan, the land of the sacred flower known as Brahmakama. The 19 kilometers trek to the famous Sikh shrine is best done in two days. Through the thick cyprus forests, this trek could earlier be combined with an excursion into the Valley of Flowers.
To get the best out of any taking expedition one must be prepared to better the elements of nature. So best equipments available have to be bought. Agreed that it might be expensive but it is worth while for it will last long.
1) A good wind and waterproof jacket :
This is a very necessary item on the agenda. The ones made from the expensive goretex fabric are the best in the market for not only are they waterproof but they are also ‘breathable’, which helps to avoid the wet and clammy feeling of normal waterproof. If not there is the inexpensive waterproof nylon jacket.
2) A Rucksack :
Again this is an essential item for trekking. A good-sized, waterproof, nylon, rucksack is a must. An internal frame system is required. This is good to the shoulders. Make sure that all the buckles are of the ‘quick release’ type. But remember that no rucksack is totally waterproof so make sure that you line it with of polythene bag .
3) A Sleeping Bag :
Avoid a nightmare by choosing a sleeping bag carefully. There might be snow on the trek. There might be stones under your tent, so sleeping bag becomes an item of survival used Holofil bags to retain the trapped body heat in the loft even when wet. Avoid zippered bags. Try a slide-bag. It is good and warm even in temperature of 0 to 5 C. Do not forget to spread a mat under your bag.
4) A Tent :
Take a strong tent to protect you from strong wind. They come in two basic shapes. The ‘A’ shaped with aluminium alloy poles and the dome shaped with aluminium or fibre glass rods The ‘A’ shaped tent with an inner layer of ‘breathable’ cotton and the outer (fly sheet) of waterproof nylon fabric, is the best for low altitude treks. Check the tent for strength and resilence. Take care never to pack wet or damp tents in their bags as they tend to mildew and rot.
5) A Woollen Balaclava (monkey cap) PEAK cap.
6) Sun Glares (preferably ones that block ultra violet rays)
7) Sun Screen Lotion.
8) T-shirts and Shorts for the day.
9) Socks, stockings and Gloves that are 20 percent acrylic and the rest wool. Hundred percent wool often shrinks if wet.
10) Also wear a pair of cotton socks under woollen socks. This allows perspiration to be soaked up by the first layer thus avoiding ‘matting’ of the socks.
11) Many layers of clothing. The more layers you have, the more air you trap. Air, as you know, is a bad conductor of heat and retains body warmth.
12) A Swiss army Knife
13) Pen Light.
14) A Whistle and Cord.
You can now rough it out in comfort
One of the famous treks in the state is to the Amarnath Caves at 3,900 meters. Watch the wondrous creation of an ice lingam at the shrine. The trek could be done in four days beginning at Chandanwari. Beautiful fresh water lakes and fir covered mountains are the highlight of the region.
The ten day Padam-Lamaguru trek routes along Burden Gompa begins at Padam, the capital of Zanskar. Walking through the Padam valley along the river Zanskar, the trek affords views of grasslands and popular trees. En route at Tungri, camp is pitched by the village of Yo Youlang, close to saini Gompa, considered to be one of the largest living monasteries of Zanskar.
Another interesting four to six days option beginning at Pahagam is to a glacier in the valley - Kolahoi (3,700 metres). Anglers would find excellent opportunities for trout fishing in the leider. Located in the idyllic surroundings, the six day trek to Gangabal Lake passes along several smaller lakes and wild meadows. The trek begins at Sonamarg and concludes at Kangan, both on the Srinagar-Leh highway.