The Route : Shimla > Dharamsala > Chamba > Bharmaur > Hadsar > Dharol > Kugti Village > Kugti Temple > Dughi > Alyas > Kugti Pass > Khodlu > Jobrung > Trilokinath > Manali > Shimla.
The preparation :
It was time to get the gear ready as the trek is pretty harsh and one spends more than a week in the mountains so one needs good equipment. Here is the list of things I bought:Trekking Boots (Quechua Forclaz 600) ,Walking Stick,Rain Coat,Trekking pants,Medicines,Head torch this was apart from all the gear like tent trekking clothes and rucksack that I have collected in the past. I tried to be conservative while packing still I had a 17+kg rucksack on my back.
The start : Home sweet home : Living in the city takes up most of our lives, we stay in air conditioned apartments with all sorts of comforts but with an emptiness inside. The feeling called home only comes once you are where you belong. Home for me is Shimla my home town, I can go an bragging about the town more on that later. Took the night Volvo from Delhi to Shimla and was in heaven the next morning. Spent the next two days with family and friends.
D Day : Woke up early morning and packed my stuff. While Vineet and I were in Shimla and Guruashish was travelling from Delhi, we had planned to reach Dharamsala that day and stay at our guides house for the night. The guide Mr Jang Ram (better known as Jango and deserves one full article) is one of the best in the business, he knows every nick and corner of Himachal and has led numerous treks in the Himalaya. We booked a taxi from Shimla to Dharamsala and reached in the evening met Jango, Guruashish and Suresh (our kitchen porter/cook for the trip)after resting for some time and tasting some home made brew we had dinner. To save a day and rush at the Manimahesh fair we started from Dharamsala by 11:00 PM. Jango arranged for a Tata Sumo and we were off to Bharmaur. Time flew fast catching up with friends and listning to stories comming from Jango. We were greeted by a big trafic jam at Hudsar which is the starting point for the Manimahesh yatra. Looking at the rush of people we gave Manimahesh a miss and headed straight to Dharol.
Trek Day 1 Dharol to Kugti Village : Dharol is the last point till the Sumo could drop us, the road is really narrow and not yet tarred. Dharol is the start of the trek and consists of three houses. We stopped to rest for sometime as all of us had been travelling for more than 24 hours. There is one dhaba at Dharol and he started cooking breakfast for us after having breakfast we headed towards Kugti village. The walk was easy the landscape lush green and beautiful with the Budhi stream flowing on the side. I enjoyed the climb as this was after almost one year I was venturing into the mountains. I took leisure breaks catching up with the landscape and myself.
We reached Kugti in the afternoon and settled in the veranda of the PWD guest house just before the village waiting for the caretaker who never showed up. The village is beautiful with its friendly people and all wooden houses the kind of place you never want to leave. We went to the village to stock up on supplies for the coming days and made phone calls back home from one of the houses,the house owners were more than happy to oblige as this is the last time you can touch base with the rest of the world for days to come. The village does not have a wired phone line the phones run on a WLL(wireless in local loop) system which was interesting to see. Himachal is miles ahead in terms of communication compared to many other states in the country. At this time the feeling started to sink in that I was actually in the mountains, the happy feeling was settling in mixed with the excitement of the days to come. The feeling of being away from the material world and into the wild takes a while to settle but puts into a trance of your own.
To be continued...