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Hampta Pass : Day 6: Back to Manali

It would be a relaxed day today as we just had to get back to manali. After the breakfast we had the certificate distribution cermony where everyone recounted the good times they had during the trek.

We had a final group snap with the entire team and once that was done we boarded the jeeps for our journey to manali.

Final group snap

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The journey to manali took 4-5 hours and we had a break atop the famous Rothang Pass for 15-20 min.

Rothang Pass

We could see plenty of bikers as the biking/cycling from manali to leh is quite a popular activity. Two hours later we were at manali thus completing a amazing trek with amazing people. We bid adeiu to everyone for the time being as we had planned to meet everyone for one final time in old manali at drifters inn for one last celebration.

Checking into the hotel which was booked in advanced i had a much needed bath and after freshening up  I took some rest before heading out to drifters inn to meet the gang.

It was a fun filled evening and after spending couple of hours I came back to the hotel.

The next day was spent roaming around manali as my bus to Chandigarh was scheduled to depart at 5 PM. Came back to Bangalore on sat night after a long flight.

Snaps can be found here

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Hampta Pass : Day 5: Shea Goru to Chatru and bumpy drive to chandratal

With the successful crossing of the hampta pass done and dusted. Today would be the last day of the trek with a continuous descent to Chatru. Ravi had told us we would have another water crossing where we had to cross the stream flowing in front of the camp.

We found a shallow point with just knee deep water we crossed the river and once everyone were across we dried our feet and started the descent,

We came across a huge herd of the sheep heading to shea goru while taking a break.

Sheep herd

The descent continued with breaks and soon we reached a point where we were told we had to board the jeeps to take us to the basecamp. We had longish break with lunch and took couple of photos before starting the final descent

Lunch point

The final descent took us another hour and we were at the cabs which were waiting for us to take us to the camp.

Once everyone reached we boarded the cabs and the bumpy ride on non existent roads started till we reached the basecamp. Ravi asked us not to waste time there except to dump the luggage and take only what is required for the visit to chandratal lake

It took us another 3 hours to reach chandratal lake with the drive across roads being very bumpy. We could see the stark contrast in landscape. With continous bumps and a desert like landscape we stopped at a hotel for some refreshments before heading out to the lake

Another one hour later we were at the lake. We had to park the cars and walk km and half to reach the lake. With amazing backdrops we took enough photos and another group snap near the lake

Chandratal Lake

Spending couple of hours at the lake we headed back to the cabs. Two hours later we were back at the camp thus completing a wonderful trek

Hampta Pass : Day 4: Conquering Hampta Pass and the descent to Shea Goru

Today would be D-Day as the we would be sumiting the Hampta Pass. Ravi told us usually we would be starting at 7 in the morning and it would take around 4-4.5 hours by the time we reach hampta pass. But considering the fast pace of the group we would leave at 8.

The previous day rains gave way to clear skies and we could start the ascent at 8.30 instead of 8. The initial part of the climb from Balu ka gera was over boulders and everyone were taking it easy without going too fast. YHAI who were also doing the trek were on the other side of the river and soon we would meet up with them as we climbed higher. After half hour to 45 min of climbing we took a break while waiting for the rest of the team to catch up. The mountains at the far end were clearly visible and after some photography we start the climb again.

Mountains / Valleys and Group snaps

As we climbed higher the views became more majestic and the boulders which were there also had to be negotiated. With breaks in-between we continued the trek.

After 3 hours of climbing we were very close to the summit and we ask our guide how far more and we got a reply another half hour max. We could find YHAI gang  also relaxing enroute where we took the final break.

Another hour of climbing we were at hampta pass. We were excited and took a longish break for an hour.

Hampta Pass

The YHAI gang had also reached the pass and it was getting crowded. After a group snap we started the steep descent towards shea goru. With loose gravel and rocks we had to be careful about where we keep our feet and with the amount of ppl getting down one had to be slow when descending.

Fortunately myself, vignesh and surabhi were able to get down soon and we waited near the bottom for the rest of the group to rejoin. The scenary had changed dramtically from the manali side as we entered spiti valley

Spiti Valley

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We were greeted with a barren landscape and while descending we could see the valley which looked like an arid desert. We took a few snaps and once the rest of the group got together we proceeded towards shea goru campsite. With icy mountains on the far ends we savoured the different setting which looked like a alien movie setting.

Shea Goru Campsite

After lot of photos of the campsite we headed for dinner and a cozy nap.

Hampta Pass – Day 3: Jwara to Balu ka Gera

Today would be a relatively short day as there was not much of altitude to gain. We were greeted with a clear sky and after a light warm up and a customary group snap we started the climb to Balu ka Gera.

Group Snap

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Lovit was not feeling very well and decided to head back as he didnt want to take a chance with his health. Bhuvanesh his cousin also decided to accompany him back to manali and promised he would complete the trek next june. We were down to 15 as we started our climb.

The ascent was gradual throughout and we were progressing at a good pace with occassional breaks in between. Within an hour of climbing we left jwara behind.

The valleys opened up and we could get much better views of the mountains in the background. With photos being clicked regularly we continued the trek.

Mountains and Valleys

The terrain leveled after a while and we had a smooth walk for few more kms. Myself and 3 others were at the front and Ravi told us to slow down as were going quite fast. We soon reached Chottu Balu Ka Gera which had a Dhaba.It was time for another break and we waited for rest of the group to join. Having tea and relaxing we spent some time there before the final climb to Balu and Gera which was still couple of hours away.

The ascent was still gradual and soon we could see our destination. Tents were already pitched up.

The final part of the trek was over huge boulders and we had to be careful not to loose our balance. Jumping over boulders we reached the campsite well ahead of time.

As we were relaxing the clouds gathered and soon it began to rain. Taking shelter in the dinning tent we spent the remaining time playing dumb sharats and chitchatting while waiting for the rain the stop.

The ground had again become wet and slushy and once the rain stopped we went outside and continued to play few more games which Ravi had organized.

Soon it was time for dinner and we slept early as we had to summit hampta pass the next day and a steep decent to Shea Goru the next day

Hampta Pass – Day 2: Jobra to Jwara

With a clear morning sky and light breeze 17 trekkers assembled at rambagh circle eager to start the trek. Ravi the trek leader and navdeep the assistant trek leader were already there and after a quick headcount we headed to the transport which was arranged to drop was till jobra which is the starting point of trek.

The 40 hair pin bend drive took and hour and a half and we soon reached the starting point which also doubled as a camp for YHAI who were doing the same trek. Breakfast was served and once the trek formalities were completed we began the ascent to jwara.

The initial part of the trek was slushy and it was a gradual ascent. We encountered rocky sections which would remain till we complete the trek. With bright sunshine and clear sky for the rest of the day we continued the ascent with frequent breaks in-between.

The lush green mountains in the backdrop made the climb more enjoyable. As we went higher the steepness also increased in few places

Mountains in the backdrop

The ground was still slushy and the forests gave way to wide valleys. Today would be the last day we would see the forests. The boulders continued and after an hour of climbing we reached a river cross where we broke for lunch.

Valleys

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During the ascent we met Ron an Israeli who was doing a solo hike to hampta pass. Interacting with him we got to know he had done plenty of treks around dharamshala and was attempting the climb to hampta pass on his own. We soon bid him goodbye before we started the final climb to the jwara camp

There was a small bridge which was used to cross the river and the trek resumed after lunch break. Soon we reached another river crossing and this time there was no bridge to help us out. All of us had to walk through the freezing water after removing our shoes.

The ice cold water made everyone’s legs numb and it took us some time to get used to the numbness once we were out of the water. Drying our feet we took a short break before making the final ascent to the camp which was at 2200 ft.

Jwara Camp and surrounding

It was a refreshing feeling to get to camp after a hard day of climbing. Hot soup was served and later we had some fun playing games. Dinner was served in couple of hours time and it was time to get inside the sleeping bags as we had the climb to balu ka gera the next day.

Makuta Trek – Day 1: Trek to APC and visit to Neelampolai

It had been almost 5 months since I had been on a trek and the craving to be back on the mountains was getting intense. While checking my facebook feed I happened to see a post about makuta trek on New Years day and I immediately registered for it. Couple of calls to the organizer and I paid the amount and confirmed my participation. The mail sent by the organizer had a checklist of things to get and the same was double checked and packed.

Harsha had messaged in the morning saying the bus would leave from Shantinagar bus stand instead of shanatala silk board. We met the team (myself, Amit, Harsha, Ram, Asuthosh and Rahul). The bus was on time and after an uneventful journey we reached virajpet at an unearthly hour of 4 Am. The bus to thalaserry was at 6 and we had around 2 hours to spend. I utilised that to the fullest by having another nap till 6. The bus was on time and we soon left to makuta. An hour of driving on the ghats we reached the forest checkpost.

Makuta check post

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We were supposed to get down here, but we went ahead to the next checkpost where we got down. Upon inquring we got to know we had to get down at the previous checkpost instead. We had to walk a km to the police checkpost where we got a bus and we got down at the forest checkpost. While harsha and ram went to the forest office to complete the permission formalities myself and others headed to the hotel opp to the bus for some refreshments.

With the permissions done we headed to makuta forest office and quickly repacked our stuff before heading to the Anti poaching camp in Sollekolli. As the area comes under reserve forest, as per the forest dept, 2 guides accompanied us till the AP Camp. The path we took was a straight forest road for 3 kms. We took it easy by clicking lot of photos and waiting for others to catch up.

Start of the trek

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The path goes along the barpole river and continues on till we reach the camp. After couple of kms we decided to head to the river and take a shortcut  to reach the APC. Jumping across the stones and crossing the river, we reached the APC within a short time and took a break. Due to the detour of going couple of extra kms and coming back, our plans had to be altered. Initially we were planning to climb the pattiamalai peak, however since we arrived at sollelkolli APC late, we decided to trek to the peak the next day.

Sollekolli APC

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For today we went to neelampolai which is 7 kms from the APC. As the terrain was rolling, we made good time by walking fast. Taking a deviation from the main path, we reached the place which was by the river. Everyone jumped into the river to play.

Fun time @ neelampolai

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Couple of hours of playing in the water we had lunch which was packed and headed back. Along the way we stopped by a hanging bridge for a long photoshoot. It was dusk by the time we left the place.

Rest near hanging bridge

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Back at the APC after changing and freshing up, preparations were made for grand dinner to be cooked by Ram and Harsha. After a stumptous dinner, we hit the bed as we had a tough climb to pattimalai the next day.

 

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