A Place on the hills -1

Some places have an essence to drag you towards them and just a single visit is not enough to explore what lies beyond it. It was our fourth visit and this time we decided to go all the way. Our final hiking adventure to avenge La Indrahar. It’s not that people have not been there, as a matter of fact it has been the most visited place in recent years and has a been a hiking hot spot for the tourists from around the world. But it is never about the place, it is our exploration and our own story, that is what matters. Some times small things can create stories to remember and probably it was our last visit or may not be but somewhere in our mind we knew it that we are not going to be here again, there are places to go and awaiting to be explored.

“Things are always happening, we have to a part of it”

4th December 2016, we were not ready, it was a sudden insight and we rushed. It was noon already and hikers usually don’t start at this time, it is kinda risk because you will get late reaching up top, but these are just stereotypes, you can start anytime on your own risk though , it takes around 6 hours to reach the first checkpoint, Triund hill (2875m).

Riding a two wheeler on hilly roads at around 90 km/h in winters is surely a thing to remember and to capture it while riding is even better. The excitement to go somewhere creates a positive and energetic space that makes us do anything. So it is around 30 km on vehicle to reach Dharamkot, the starting point of the hiking trail but we were late and rushing through the things and rushing through the traffic.

There can be delays due to many reasons while travelling, be it anything, but there are many. Specially while riding a bike and running through the traffic.

So two members of our group already reached the destined checkpoint and had to wait. You simply cannot leave anyone behind while travelling in a group. They had to wait because the other two were caught by police. So you have pay the ‘Chalan’ receipt, which costed us not much but 1000 INR. We were out of time and somewhat running out of money as well.

We are all at Dharamkot now, discussing what happened and could not do anything about it and thus we moved further.

At upper Dharamkot, 12:30 hours, now there are three ways to approach the trek. One is to go to Gallu Devi Temple which is the most common path used by vehicles to reach further up in less time. But the point is parking because it’s a hill top and no one is going to take care of you rides. The other way is trek through Bhagsu Temple which is time taking. The final way is to cross the Dharamkot village and start from there. It is time taking but you get safe parking, up get further up half way and a market to buy some stuff.

We decided to take the third route, it would save us some time and we got a parking as well. So bikes parked we started moving ahead through the market area. Dharamkot is hill station, there are few houses, more hotels and cafes where people would spend time, meet new people, share stories and do stuff. So we stopped at a shop to buy something to eat and we forgot time, we forgot the money we are left with, bought a whole lot of eating stuff, drinking water which is a safe option as well because up there you get things at double rates.

We kinda forgot our mission and sat in a cafe Trek and Dine at upper Dharamkot, ordered beverages, talking to people and stuffed ourselves, a bad start I should say. I had to force them out of the loop and start journey and neither was me ready. It was 2 pm already and we were feeling sleepy but as usual we knew we would even trek at night so we were easy. Started moving slowly step by step and finally we were standing at the end of the village. I was looking for a shorter way to reach further up. I still do not remember what I was thinking but I looked up, heard some sound and started moving off trail.

The usual way is other way around. When you finish the village part you have to follow signs and you shall cross a water plant and then you reach the main trail but in sight of some adventure. It was a bad decision although but I was bored of the Triund trail having trekked it many times.

I asked everyone to follow me, being a leader, a guide of travel group is always nice. So instead now we were moving straight up to catch the trail mid way somewhere near the ‘Magic View’ which is first cafe around 3 km from the start, climbing the mountain straight up. I do not remember the exact inclination, but it was around 75 to 80 degrees. With bags on our back and cameras we were moving up, not looking down. The distance down was increasing and the slope was getting more inclined. I was far ahead of others and sending them messages in loud voice to guide them through the path. It was not a straight run. The path was covered by bushes and trees covered with thorns popping out from the inclined slope. We had to change path several times because seeing through them was tough. We had no idea where we would reach but still kept on moving.

It was getting dark now. We had been moving for almost 3 hours now, reached nowhere, stuck somewhere in woods, the view was amazing to be honest but, the horizon, the sunset, but the it was getting dark and it is not safe to be lost in woods, on hills, in winters. And further up another obstacle and probably the biggest one.

The popping rock

A rock, a big one was popping out from inside the mountain at 90 degrees and it was blocking our path and the view. It was dark already. There was no way to go 200 feet down on 80 degrees and none had an idea how to get to the other end and no one knew what was on the other side. And two of the sides were endless black pits. But it was the only way.

Two of us started moving up and asked others to stay down, go around and look for some another way. They had a chance to go around from where they were and cross the rock. We were stuck. They changed paths reached up and some how even reached the trail. We were still stuck and thinking. Few sounds were coming to us as well, it was cold and quiet. We knew we were not far.

We had to take the risk of rock climbing without gears only on our strength with a bag. One mistake and it was all over. I usually don’t believe in such things but for the first time my prayers were running inside me. My friend used his arm strength and climbed the rock and reached up. I did not have that much strength. He was up there guiding me but I knew this is out of my league. I leaped on the rock like a Velcro man crawling on my belly around the rock. I was not moving up. On the end I had to jump and grab a tree and them climb it and no chance of missing it. I jumped and landed on the branch.

I was sitting on it, on my belly, looking down. I saw nothing it was dark and endless. I went a further back on the tree climbed up to grab another tree. On to the slippery surface, I slipped, then grabbed some thorny bush and they were inside my skin, did feel pain. gathered and climbed another tree and was up with everyone and magic view was in sight. We were on the path and knew we would still reach the hill top by 8:30 or so, the calculation went well by the end. One of our mates was in hurry to reach the top, he was here for the first time he left leaving us three behind and we were moving slowly taking our time, stopping every 10 mins. The night view of the valley was amazing with a rainbow horizon.

The Rainbow Horizon

And thus we finally reached our checkpoint, Triund Hill by 9. Bought a tent for the night. Dumped our bags and sat at a cafe and a bonfire, some food and people from everywhere.

To be continued…