Am I dreaming or is this for real! I questioned my wakefulness trying to comprehend the unbelievably gorgeous milk-white sprawling vista that lay before my eyes – a widespread fluffy blanket of untouched snow, sharp and pointed peaks of the Dhauladhar range, clear blue skies with no cloud in sight, early morning warm sunshine, and not a hint of the expected gusty winds.
The ecstatic bunch of us hooted and cheered at 15,380 ft. Our child-like innocent glee reverberated in the pristine surroundings. We couldn’t have asked for more but the mountains were extraordinarily gracious that morning and had another delightful surprise in store for us. A herd of sheep came strolling by with their shepherds and sheep dogs only to exhilarate the already intoxicated us.
This was the moment we were waiting for and all the days of long walks, difficult climbs, and cold weather was more than worth it.
I was back to the Himalayas and this time I was trekking Rupin Pass, a notch higher in the difficulty level as compared to the others I had done so far. Moreover, this time I was alone. I was nervous as I signed up and was not sure if I could make it. My nervousness ensured that I was putting in an extra effort towards fitness – more on that later.
It was an early May morning, when a bunch of us huddled at Dehradun railway station. A quick round of short introductions and the vibes were positive. I was already feeling comfortable with the gang. It’s been sheer coincidental that so far all my treks to the Himalayas started from Dehradun. Hence, I was familiar with the route and even have a fair idea of the good eateries on the way. We bundled into tempo travellers and Boleros and proceeded towards Dhaula.
Day 1: Dhaula – The Beginning
At 5,100 ft, Dhaula was our campsite for Day 1. We arrived at Dhaula late in the evening after a long ride of 10 hours. Deep valleys and thick Pine forests kept us engaged all through the journey. The characteristic bright yellow tents of IndiaHikes were ready for us. (I chose IndiaHikes, once again.) The rapidly flowing water and the gushing sound of Rupin River was music to our ears taking off all the tiredness from the day’s ride. After a quick briefing by our trek leader and a more formal introduction with one another, we retired for the night with countless anticipation for the next day and the days to come.
Day 2: Sewa – Getting to Know Each Other
We started early and this was technically the first day of the trek as we walked up towards the village of Sewa. It was a long walk of 11 Km. through patches of undulated terrain surrounded by tall trees and a couple of steep ascents. Most of this day however, was through a rugged pathway, which is a road in the making. The surrounding greenery with the Rupin River appearing, disappearing, and reappearing in the deep valley made for an interesting walk even though the the sun beat down on us relentlessly.
As we trudged along, the large group of 24 people chit-chatted, breaking barriers, and learning more about each other. There were people from all walks of life. A big gang of young engineers who just completed their graduation and were yet to start their first job; a group of three men from Chennai led by an inspiring 57 year old, whose fitness regime put the rest of us to shame; a group of three friends from my city of Bangalore; the ‘Gujju’ trio who weren’t from Gujarat and who were teased mercilessly for all the eatables they got; and the rest, including me, who were solo travelling from various parts of the country.
However, very soon it was forgotten who belonged to which group as everyone easily blended into one large group.
At 6,300 ft. Sewa was a peaceful village surrounded by tall green mountains where we stayed at a small and cozy wooden homestay. However, what I remember of Sewa is the unique two-storied pagoda-like village temple that had medals and coins adorning its wall and the crazy mosquito bites leading to itchy rashes that affected most of us and healed only after we got back home after completing the trek.
Oh yes, I had a splitting headache too that resulted from walking in the sun all day long without putting on my sunglasses.
Day 3: Jiskun – Luxury at the Homestay
As we left Sewa, the pleasant walk descending through the forest trail delighted most of us. The trail took us straight to Rupin River that sparkled in the morning sun splashing the stones and pebbles as it curved gently to make its way behind the tall mountains. We spent a few refreshing moments beside the river before continuing our walk through the forest. And, now it was time to step over to Himachal Pradesh from Uttarakhand through the wooden bridge hidden in the jungle that separates the two states.
Soon after, we landed onto a dusty track snaking through the mountains, which was again a road in the making. The sun was merciless and I made sure to put on my sunglasses. My ankles had been hurting since morning and it got worse. It was the sides of my shoe that was rubbing against the ankles making it quite difficult for me to walk. I chose to ignore thinking that it would go away. I would discover the next morning how wrong I was!
After a 10 Km. walk we arrived at Jiskun. At 7,700 ft., Jiskun was again a beautiful and simple Himalayan village, where everyone you meet greets you with a smile and a ‘namaste’. We stayed at a homestay, which had several very sunny and airy rooms – quite a luxury at a trek. The guys huddled into two rooms, even though there were several rooms lying empty. The four girls were smarter and selected two rooms giving them a lot of space to relax for the rest of the evening.
So far the trek seemed easy even though I struggled walking the long distances with my sore ankle. Next day onwards, it was a different ball game altogether.
My other Himalayan Treks: