Basically an office with IT background, the wanderlust discussions mostly happens between us even-though only a few gets accomplished. These conversations always helps to enhance our energy levels and keeps us energized, the feeling - when you’re excited about visiting an unfamiliar place and the new folks you would probably meet.
"It took almost a couple of months of research to conclude on the trek site and about the 'Skill Level' to choose from" - says Ajesh Nair, who had actually ignited the fire within the group (Jomy, Suraj, Sharique and Haneez).
The f-IT-ness factor
So everything was finalized two months in advance of the staycation? - while Ajesh revises my statement "Basically speaking, this isn't a staycation but a trek of moderate difficulty and requires certain level of fitness"
The Body Mass Index should be intact, also the organizer would ask for a couple of test results to be sent - like the participants should complete 5km run within 45 minutes and holds good for the systolic and the diastolic levels too.
About the trek
The Trek is not very long-winded one, can be completed just in 4 to 5 days and is considered as a moderate level trek. One of the intriguing things would be the dramatic and terrific scenery changes that you would experience at each of the campsites,which they are differently astonishing.
The team started from Thiruvananthapuram on a Saturday and flew to Delhi and by evening took the roadway to reach Manali on Sunday as per the plan.
Day 1: Reaching Jobra, the base campsite
The jaunt starts from Manali watching-over the scenic valleys of Kullu passing over the 42 hairpins and reaching Jobra at an altitude of 9,800 ft (2,987 m) after a drive of about 2 hours, while the team has already started consuming Diamox tablets inorder to get accustomized with the changing altitude.
There is a short trek of about 30 minutes and in between have lunch from Prini (Keylinga Inn) by 11:30 am. While advancing towards the base campsite, we would get a chance to drift through the diverse maple vegetation. The base campsite is arranged in the meadows, to acclimatize better by the overnight stay and also for the dinner. The site has a provision for a couple of indoor games which would also help to create a rapport between the hikers.
Day 2: Towards Jwara
During the progress towards Jwara from Jobra, Chikha(Chika) can be accessed much effortlessly by strolling for an hour followed by a climb for another 2 hours ceasing the comfort of the level walk then a descent taking about 1.5 hours.
"The entire hike covers about 7km and the rains and the extreme cold delayed it, and took almost 7 hours which is about an hour or more than the regular trek" - Ajesh Nair added to his statement.
The water carried from the base campsite would not be well enough to stay hydrated and the bottles could be refilled at Chika, easily spotted by a couple of waterfalls.
Jwara can be accessed by proceeding towards the right of Chika after the waterfalls, crossing over the river after Chika having a lot of boulders around it. Taking off the shoes is preferred while crossing the estuary and can be moved across stamping over the padhar(rock) through the icy chilling waters which would take you to the breathtaking view of Jwara at an altitude of 11,072 ft (3,375 m). The camping site was surrounded by purple florets and hikers got engaged with some ice-breaking sessions like "Capture the Villain".
Day 3: Jwara to Balu Ka Ghera trail
The third day comprises of a stroll alongside the Rani river towards the rectangular valley. The valley is bedded with a diversity of florets colored purple, yellow, pink etc and will take almost an hour to cross it. Then needs to walk through the flattened contours further along to reach Chota Balu ka Ghera where there is a stopover for having some snacks. We had our stamina regained to move further, crossing over small snow flows and jumping across the rock-beds reaching Balu Ka Ghera meaning surrounded by sand. At the level ground, the hexagonal dome shaped yurt is pitched behind the Hanuman Tibba peak to enjoy the night stay at an altitude of about 12,500 ft (3,800 m).
Day 4: Heading towards Shea Goru through Hampta pass
The hike for the day from Balu Ka Ghera would better be described in two segments: gradual ascent for about an hour, then a steep uphill till the Hampta pass & then the summit succeeded by an hour and a half of a steep descent which becomes much easier stroll towards the Shea Goru. We had our lunch at the Hampta mountain pass connecting Kullu and Spiti valley of Himachal, located at an altitude of 14,002 ft(4,300 m) msl before the descent.
The trek which takes about an hour is really enticing beside the river with tiny little flowers along the way which are insanely beautiful. Along the pathway the trails may be faded and so would be appropriate to stay with the team. On the way after half an hour climb, there is a rock slide prone area after which we will get the best glimpse of Mt. Deo Tibba Peak. The way down the summit can be done sliding down if there is snow, during the time just before the summer season begins.
Shea Goru does have a flat terrain and its much easier to walkover and you can retire for the day choosing a campsite much closer to the river.
Day 5: Shea Goru to Chhatru
This patch will take 2-3 hours to pass the mountains and will get a view of the road with Chandra river between you and the road. A couple of glacier streams comes down from the mountains to join the river and will need to cross these streams inorder to reach the site with the availability of water.
Chhatru is a scenic site with Chandra river flowing right below.
Chandratal lake is a must visit place which is about 70km in distance from Chhatru. The road is quite jerky and takes almost 3hrs to reach the site. But we have to skip the visit to the lake due to the weather conditions and bid goodbye to Chhatru and headed back to Manali
Picture and Outline Courtesy: Mr Ajesh Nair, Mr Jomy George & team