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Kheerganga Trek - Vishwa - Shepherdtrail Blog 2

Feeling Low? Go to the mountains! | Kheerganga Trek

Feeling Low? Go to the mountains! | Kheerganga Trek

After a weary workday, I got a call from my friend we were sharing glimpses and he came up with the Kasol tour plan. I wanted to escape from the routine so I didn’t check anything about it and without any hesitation, I said let’s go. And that’s how we ended up on this trek.

It was a companionless journey from Chennai to Delhi to join my friend at Delhi airport we were about to kiss goodbye to the bus that we booked. We could catch the bus at the last minute, met strangers on the bus who were planning to trek Kheerganga. After staying in Kasol for two days, on the pleasant morning of Day 3, we reached Bharshaini Dam to witness the beauty of nature.

 

I think there are certain moments which people will never forget, like All the firsts when the first tide touches your feet, first snowflake, first love, first kiss!! That’s how I felt after seeing the snow-capped mountains.

From there we started the 12Km trek, on the way we met a few students rushing to schools in the mountain terrain and walked through the villages to experience the completely unknown culture of Himachal on the way to reaching  the base camp

After trekking for 7km we reached the base camp of Kheerganga trek called Rudranaag amidst the white-capped hills, where we saw the poster stating reward for finding the person who lost in the trek and realized it’s all fun and games until you lost and cease to exist.

 

We were a team of 7 members and accompanied by a local guide in Rudranaag not to miss the stray dogs, who stayed with us from start to end of the trek. From base camp, we crossed the Parvati valley to climb the mountains covered with slippery snow. Trekked almost 3 hrs to reach the kheerganga camp at 13000 ft above sea level, where one could embrace the mighty Himalayan ranges.

On top, we found one hot spring, At that moment I felt “God is a great artist but we are luckier than him to live on his finest art!!”

Barefoot we walked in the snow to reach the hot spring, the warmth given by the hot water, Oh, God!! That was heaven in real-time.

After a long trek, we camped at Kheerganga that night, amidst the Himalayas and clear night sky showing its beauty, next day we started our return journey. Trekking downhill on a slippery surface is not an easy task. I would personally say the return journey was difficult and one should be mentally ready to face the fear because while trekking uphill we will be facing the mountain but in the case of downhill, it is the valley. With the help of a veteran guide, we made it back to Rudranaag.

The trek hasn’t only given us adventure but shown us the culture of Himachal. You may not remember their names, you may not meet them again but you will always remember their quick laughs, quiet smiles, small chats, and great gestures, you will cherish them forever.

 

Some people say that unplanned trips are the best, I don’t know how far it’s true but the Kheerganga trek was unplanned, which will stay as a core memory in my life.

 

P.S: Find all information about Kheerganga Trek here.

Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking

Never Ending Voyage – Lessons learned from Trekking

Blue, green and brown were my most used pastel colors all through my childhood not knowing that these colors will forever leave firm imprints on my life. I am a total hill person. I love anything and everything about mountains, clear blue skies, vast green meadows and dense forests. I don’t remember what kick started this love but it’s there now for a while and one thing that I am sure of is that it will last till my legs give away. Mountains have given more than have taken from me. Here are my life lessons or  things I learned from my trekking experiences –

You can’t succeed if you don’t try. You could only fail if you didn’t try .

 I have been a soft corner for nature since childhood and was automatically drawn towards mountains and their beauty. Often times reading several adventure series and travel books made me wonder if I could also embark on such journeys! What would it be like treading difficult paths like these amazing men did? I used to underestimate myself thinking I can never scale such heights till I made up my mind one day to give it a shot and there hasn’t been any stopping since then. My first trek to Kedarkanta was not only strenuous but also painful.Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking1

My body did not expect hardships that I suddenly hurled on it and neither was I mentally prepared to hike more and more. But more I trekked along, pushed myself ahead, ignoring the pains and sickness, the easier it got for me to walk ahead. I slowly began to see things differently beyond the hardships and discomforts that nature bestowed upon me. I started to observe more, feel more and see the beauty of things around. That was the first time I realized how many other things I was capable of doing if only I tried. There is no point in letting the fear of failure hold you back from doing something you want to do or capable of doing. Just start with venturing out, see how far you get, improve your abilities and keep going!

Rise above yourself, there is a bigger world ahead that awaits you.

We are so engrossed in our own world, with our own little problems that we have lost all our capability to look beyond ourselves. It’s only when we are exposed to rough terrains wherein we are cut off from civilization and see local tribes with bare minimum necessities to live on, yet never complaining and living in harmony and complete submission with nature, that we wonder whether the Glass is half full or half empty? Mountain life is tedious and difficult. Hill people live in wooden houses with basic amenities and in areas that are always prone to natural calamities, bear tremendous cold weather, walk for miles to fetch water or woods from the forests. Kids with cracked red cheeks that hurt all the time, often walk for hours to attend school yet you will always find the locals hospitable with whatever little they have, ever smiling at you when met enroute. Sometimes they lend a helping hand or just pass a good luck smile and move on. In contrast, we the urban city life dwellers always live a life of tension and stress – we have loans to repay, our salaries are always too less, loved ones who never reciprocate, we love foods which we can’t intake as we have the growing obesity issues seeping in to our lives. We are constantly put under the scanner of society with people analyzing our every step. But if you manage to break free of this cluttered city life every once in a while you will come across people who care, and who bond with strangers with no high expectations.

A trek develops a sense of gratitude to things and people around.

Trekking makes you ponder over how many people and things came together to make your success possible. You instantly feel thankful about it. A monsoon trek to Deomali helped me realize “how many things” and “how many people” have contributed to our well-being.Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking2

Trekking gives us time for reflection, which promotes clarity. Clarity significantly improves decision making abilities.

There are many things about trekking that simply make you think. It could be the alone time, the view, the scale of the mountains, anything. But it promotes thinking and often gives you clarity. Walking alone in mountains is a great experience. Trails cut between mountains and run by the riverside. I get this opportunity mostly in my Himalayan treks. There are miles and miles of mountains in front of us and miles behind us. I feel minuscule among the mighty mountains. It is here I start wondering about the purpose of our existence. Have we found it yet? Do we even know that we need to find it? What are our primary and secondary duties in life? What are the factors derailing us from our duties?

Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking

These questions are not tricky ones. Sometimes on a trek, we get answers that are extraordinarily impactful on our lives.

Trekking helps you realize that true happiness is not a product of amassing things.

On the Bramhatal trek in the December of 2021, we walked past some beautiful forest and mountain passes. In my opinion, they were the the best seven days I have ever spent. Now let us look at it the other way. We were walking with a backpack, eating simple food and having “the best time”? How can someone be having the “best time” when they are deprived of basic necessities of a comfortable bed, car and sophisticated restrooms? What does happiness depend upon then? “What” and “how much of it” do we need to possess to be happy? How much mental baggage do we absolutely need? What I have said afore is by no means a complete cover of my experiences, but it gives you an idea of my biggest learnings. Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking3While some of my learnings are universal, learnings from a trek is also a subjective experience.

 

Kareri lake - Shepherdtrail Blog 1

Kareri Lake – A Solo Adventure

The weather outside was clear. The evening breeze was cold and my brain was thinking, “it’s almost winter… So what next ?”. I wear a personality that longs to be in the wild but COVID and lockdowns had played their part in being a spoilsport. So when winter 2021 came and the world moved from “revenge travel” to “plain old travel”, I was the first one to get on the wagon and decided to go on a solo adventure.

I was longing for a sight of the mountains and Kareri lake was on my mind because it was the easiest to reach in terms of transportation. Booked bus tickets and ran off to Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh from Delhi. Took a taxi to the quaint Kareri village early morning. Nothing could give you more peace than being in a traditional pahadi homestay, talking to the locals who are yet to see destruction through commercialization. I had the whole day and also left my work laptop at home, so I decided to do some exploring on my own around the village. And ended up descending down a kilometre from the village and found a quiet stream to sit by, soak up the sun and just be present.

Day 2 was trek day. Since I did not get my own camping gear, I had decided to complete the trek in one single day, although I don’t recommend this because I did not have that much time to enjoy the path. Woke up early and when I got out of my room, I was welcomed by cloudy and cold weather with negligible visibility. I was recommended not to go by my Pahadi host, but, you know what they say, when the longing is strong enough, even God comes looking for you. So there I was, started walking from my homestay in Kareri village. My phone showed a biting 3-degree temperature, a weather warning highlighted in red, time was 8:32 am, my hands aching from the chill but my legs feeling strong ready to go all the way.

It took me around an hour through the village to reach “Nauli ka pul” as the locals’ state from where the trek starts. There are 2-3 shops around the bridge and you need to go along the ascending path just beside the bridge. The trek here was covered with overhanging pine, rhododendron and oak trees. I lost my way here twice because of fallen trees obscuring the path. But the beautiful forest kept me going. All the while I was walking alongside the stream which ended up being with me for the whole trek.

At around 10 am, I crossed the stream by jumping around some boulders and entered into a much more dense forest. There were wooden bridges but they were all in a dilapidated condition. The forest pushed me into a small meadow after a short while and the path was pretty much clear after this. It was like walking, all the while the stream brushing off of your trek path. The trail was pretty much defined except the fact that while ascending you may not be able to see it clearly due to huge boulders & stones. By 11:30 am I entered into territory where the temperature dropped steeply and I could see that even the stream was frozen in places where the sunlight couldn’t reach. I became reassured of my path when I came across a few closed dhabas and a Shiva temple. I could see the problems with going solo.

The last part of 4.5 km of the trail was the most difficult because the path was covered in snow and even though my trekking shoes were helping me, I had to tread carefully. I did not want to slip and injure myself since I hadn’t seen another soul along the way. At around 1:06 pm, I reached the top where I could see all of Dhauladhar, Pir Panjal and parts of Kangra valley just melting together into Kareri lake, which was starting to freeze. It started snowing lightly, but the biting cold wind gushing around, made me decide to immediately head down the mountain.

All the shacks and dhabas were closed & there was nobody around. Just me standing at Kareri temple, which is dedicated to Shiva and Shakti. I just automatically bowed down to the temple and the mountains. Thanked them for showing me how minuscule I was.

Just as I started to head down, from nowhere a stray dog joined me along and started following me, and as if it was god sent, the dog, unlike any I have come across, followed me all the way back to base which was around 10 km of descending. 4 hours of descending just flew by. Exceptional Dog, an exceptional day and an exceptional view etched in my memory forever.

A few points to remember :

I stayed at Maan Homestay in Kareri Village. Everyone knows the host Maan Singh so just take a cab and ask around the village.

I did not take any vehicle to the starting point. Just took the beaten path just shooting off of the roadhead in the village. Had to walk 1-2kms extra due to this.

The very definition of adventure for me is to be alone and just be crazy in whatever you do. However, I do not recommend going solo especially if you have zero experience of hiking in the Himalayas or you are physically unfit.

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