It is Sept 22, Swati’s Birthday and she took a not so popular, hard route trek to celebrate her Birthday. The Route: Triund, Indrahar Pass, Hilling (Chamba Valley). Her friends Alka, Vikas, Bhupinder, Rahul, Aurabindo and Dhruv was joining us. At the stroke of midnight, Alka took her to the back of the bus and gave her a Blueberry cheese cake to cut. Yes, I know what you must be thinking, It was delicious, but let me not get distracted at the start of the post. Swati’s eyelids flew open as she saw a small cake under the light of a teeny tiny candle.
Birthday songs erupted inside the bus and the cake cut. With everyone tasting a piece of cake, Alka and Swati painted each other with the Blueberry topping. Nobody got away from Swati’s blueberry coated hands. We had to lick our hands and wipe the rest of the topping with tissues. Luckily the bus stopped at a petrol station. It gave us ample opportunity to clean ourselves up before sleep.
Arrival at McLeodganj
We reached at Mcleodganj at 5.30. The jumpy bus conductor coerced us to deboard the bus within minutes. Hesitantly , we put on our bags and walked towards Dharamkot. Sun was just breaking loose of the mountain while taking the steep route via the mountaineering institute. Hotel reception was not open yet but I did get to know that most of the hotels were full of Israeli travelers. Swati pulled off her magic again and we found ourselves freshening up at Snow White Cafe. Dark clouds cast a marquee, distant thunders heard followed by rainfall. The weather promised us a fun trek.
Grabbing a lunch at Milky way Cafe, we hired two taxi to take us to Galu temple (trail head). The rain had loosened the rocks and made the road slippery. We had to get down from the car couple of time to make it easy for the engine to haul it over steep areas. We did not spend time at the temple and we started on the route after logging our entry at the Forest Checkpost.
Drizzling all the way to Triund
The trek route to Triund is lush green at this time of the year. The weather did not change since morning, it was drizzling most of the time. A Bonus feature was that an thick fog loomed around us reducing the visibility to 100m. As we reached the midpoint (Magic View cafe) the rain maxed itself. We had no choice but to wait it out while we ordered tea. Some of us did not have proper rain cover and tried buying it from the cafe but they were out of stock. Thankfully, a hiker who was returning from Triund gave us his poncho for us to carry on. The rain waned off and we carried on. Aurabindo and Bhupinder went walking ahead at full speed while Alka and Vikas were walking at a slow pace. At one point, we saw Aurabindo and Bhupinder on the other side of the valley just about to start the steep route up to Triund. Swati signaled them to stop and wait for others. Once we regrouped, we took a 10minutes rest before we met with the climb ahead.
May we Rest at Triund
At 2 we reached Triund. Alas, the fog still persisted and the majestic view of the mountains hidden. Bolting towards a cafe and ordering Dal Chawal, we took rest on the rocks. I knew that there is no water source on the way up to snowline. So, taking the company of Bhupinder, I went down the valley to fill up our water bottles. By the time we were back to Triund, everyone had their fill of lunch. But, just as we finished ours, the second round of heavy rain began. Not cowering this time, we ploughed on towards the Rocky ridge towards the snowline. The best part of the rain was that it chased away the fog and now we had the view of the mountain ranges. Then Swati shouted “Rainbow, Rainbow, Look how close it is”. She could’nt be any more accurate. It was so close that we could have hiked and touched it within minutes.
Triund to Snowline
On the way we came across a large herd of sheep and goat coming down from the Lakha got. Upon seeing us, they screeched to a halt and stared us. It was almost as if they were posing for the camera which i fished out of the bag. At around 5pm we reached Snowline cafe. Me and Swati scouted the area for the best place to put up our tents and 20 minutes later, both our tents were up. Rahul, Bhupinder and Aurobindo were excited when Swati taught them to put up the tent. First day is never complete without solo photos of the participants at the campsite. so, we upheld the tradition and now everyone has a new dp to be uploaded. Later, ordered food at the cafe and but in the meanwhile we had some delicious popcorn.
The time after our dinner and before us snuggling into our sleeping bag was passed by stargazing. Yup, at this time of they year, stars were more clear than ever. There was a faint sign of the milky way belt, (or is it my imagination running wild?). After we had our heart’s satisfaction of stargazing, we tucked in and exchanged jokes from one tent to another. Vikas’s “Mattar in Potty” was the clear winner that stole everyone’s laugh. It took around half an hour for the laughter to fade into sleep.