The story on how I got addicted to treks — Hampta Pass in July 2016

Once you finish a trek, if you want write about it, you do it in the next couple of months. Not later than that.

I did Hampta Pass trek with Indiahikes in July 2016, few months after my first trek to Nag Tibba. Its more than 9 months now, yet those are some of the beautiful memories of my life. This is when I understood, the mountains have their own way to pulling us towards them and before you know it you are addicted to treks.

This post, reliving my memories and the stunning visuals, is my way of feeding the cravings of a typical trek/mountain addiction.
Before we start here is one of my favorite captures of Hampta Pass trek.

Hampta Pass trek starts from Manali — the Himalayan resort town surrounded by high peaks of the Beas River valley. Since my visit to Mussoorie, I’ve lowered my expectations of tourist hill stations and Manali did not alter my opinion. Manali was still a lot more peaceful than Mussoorie.

One thing I did like was the constant gushing sound of the fierce Beas river. On a nap in the first afternoon in Manali, there was this constant sound; I assumed it was raining cats and dogs, only to find that it was the river in full force in the monsoon season.

Beas river as seen from the Manali — Leh Highway

The day before the trek started, we were assembled in a park in Manali to brief about what to do and what not to do. Our trek lead SJ individually spoke to each and every one of us, asking about our preparations and our previous experiences.

We were taught to how to pack our backpack, how to pace the trek, rhythmic breathing and even how to pee. Ok, not exactly how to pee, but things to keep in mind, like don’t do it near rivers and streams; always climb uphill before you answer nature’s call; and pee-buddy: someone to take with you at nights when you go finish your business.

The concept of pee buddy: When answering nature’s call during night time, always make sure, you take one of your tent mates for company.

Simple, it is just to make sure no one is alone outside in the dark. And so that the buddy can search for you in case you are taking a bit too much time out there.


DAY 1 — Trek to Jwara

The next morning, we were taken on vehicles from Manali to Jobra. The ride to Jobra is 40 hairpins mountain road, with scenic views and backbreaking potholes. But before it does you any damage, you reach the Jobra, in a little more than an hour. After having breakfast in Jobra, we filled our water bottles and got set for the trek.

When ever you see trekking pics or quotes on treks, you’ll definitely find this — “The best view always comes after the hardest climb”. That sounds like common sense. You get reward only after you put in the effort. In line with that, I was expecting it’d at least take 2–3 hours, before we get to see good vistas and those huge valley-mountain views.

Hampta Pass, I think, is way too good a trek on that. The vistas you always love to see on treks start within minutes of the climb. If there is a Effort-to-Scenery ratio, this’d definitely be one of the best.

The view right after we cleared out of the forests in the first hour while starting from Jobra

None of us would have been tired yet, even if we were the minute we saw such views we’d be brimming with energy. We were continually fascinated by the cloud formations and the lush greenery all around.

In Himalayan treks, we are always advised to wear Sunshades, as UV penetration is higher with the altitude. Around the same time that I started clicking pictures, I lost my sunshades. Our trek guide actually went back for almost half a km in search for, but it could not be found. SJ, our trek lead however told that, since there was not much snow/ice to be found, I could manage without them. But seriously, the shades would have added a lot more comfort to my eyes while on the trek.

This is where I realised that the sun shades were missing

Throughout the day, actually for most of the trek, we were walking in the valley flanked by lush green mountains on either side and cloud cover staging dramas in the sky with their formations.

Another constant companion was the river. For the first couple of days, Rani Nala was alongside with us.

Rani Nala’s curves and swerves while staying with us

Some time after the lunch came the experience that quite a few of us, who’ve checked the Indiahikes trek page, were a bit wary of. The river crossing. Just check this video

I did not shoot and this is not my group, just the one I found on Youtube.

We formed a human chain with the trek lead on one end and the guide on the other end. Unlike the video, we did not wear our shoes while our feet were getting wet. Bone chilling. Literally. We had to make sure we were in sync with the person on either side of us. But it was fun. I really enjoyed it.

More sceneries enroute to Jwara

We were always crossing smaller streams (not just the one in the video), that drinking water was never an issue. Most of the time, we’d find one of our Trek leads or the guide informing if it was ok to refill our bottles in that place.

Tiny waterfalls on our way to the Jwara campsite

Once I reached the campsite, an old problem resurfaced. Within a few minutes, I got a severe backpain. The trek lead asked me to wait for sometime, before he’d recommend a pain killer. The experienced trekmates with me though, offered a simpler solution — they asked me to get into warmer layers quickly. And that did work. In a minute after I got into the thermal inners and an additional layer of fleece, it just went away. 
Lesson learnt.


Day 2 — Trek to Balu ka Gera

This was, as told, the easiest day of the trek. But the one with most fascinating visuals.

Like the previous day, rivers continued to flow with us.

The wild flowers as we started from the Jwara campsite, would easily give the Valley of flowers a run for its money. Milind sir, the phototrekker, was teaching a few of us on photography, on the previous night. The flowers in this background gave him a good chance to demo some of the lessons now.

My previous winter trek did not have much snow. This being a little higher altitude, I just assumed there will be snow, while all we got was this-

More waterfalls and a few small snow patches on the mountain side marked our way to Balu ka Gera, one of the prettiest campsites you will find, not just on this trek.

Just as the campsite was getting visible, we started to understand why it is called the prettiest. Few of my favorite shots, like the cover photo for this post, were taken just near the campsite.

All the shades of green were seen here in this Himalayan canvas

We were hoping for a clear sky that night to shoot Milky way. Luck and the weather were not on our side, it got more cloudy than the picture above. It did not stop there. Sometime past midnight till the morning, it was raining cats and dogs.

The next day — the most important day of the trek — now got a big question mark next to it. If the conditions are deemed unfit to proceed, we’ll have to return back.

Before we talk about the next day, here is one pic from Day 2, the first pic I shot after the reaching the campsite.

Will Day 3 really be that tough? Will there be any other challenges? Is this all worth it?