In the age of adventure and the world dictating our idea of “living”,who has not thought about packing up and fleeing to the mountains? When “wanderlust” and the urge to “explore” strikes most north Indians, we flock to Himachal Pradesh. Since obscure is no longer obscure, small quirky villages like Kheer Ganga and Hampta Pass are being visited and re-visited for quenching this generational love for travel.
What doesn’t get covered in Yash Raj movies and big travel shows airing on television is how difficult the treks are in these villages. If you’re the travelling type but your body isn’t very athletic, you have to be very vigilant about your physical fitness. Exercise before the trek on a routinely basis because the terrain is rocky and flat lands are hard to spot. The trek to Kheer Ganga (sitting at 2960 meters above sea level) is approximately 11 kilometres and since there aren’t many food joints around, one has to walk more. Although the difficulty level is moderate, people of a frailer health need to be cautious. One needs a sturdy pair of shoes, and a lot of stamina for which one can’t miss the workouts a week prior to the trek. All of these fitness requirements double up for a trek in Hampta Pass (4,270 meters above sea level) because the distance of the trek amounts to about 29 kilometers approximately. The Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) at these altitudes can be risky for some people so one should always carry personal medication. Another thing to keep in mind before enrolling for such a trek is to get a detailed weather report of these places before going because they tend to flood during the monsoons.
Below are a few tips for high altitude trekking you should always keep in mind.
- Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated at all times.
- For steep treks, carry light bags to avoid being pushed downwards by the weight of your bags.
- Carry light food (low on cholesterol) because finding food joints in remote trekking areas is extremely difficult.
- Sunscreens are a must-have in your carry-ons because you are exposing yourself to UVs at high altitudes.
- Do not go without conducting full scale research about the climate, altitude, etc. It’s not spontaneous, its stupid.
After taking care of all of the aforementioned issues, if you’re going to either/both of these places believe you me; it’s going to be the experience of a lifetime. They’re not your usual, run-of-the-mill walks up and down a hill. They will change you if you go through with them (as clichéd as it sounds).
They challenge you and break you down to your last breath just so that you appreciate the value of the sighs these mountains have to offer. It’s not the generic beauty of the scenery that will grip you; it’s the little rewards of these treks that will. For Kheer Ganga, the rewards are in the hot springs at the gurudwara down in Manikaran and the stories of Lord Kartikey’s stay in this small village.
For Hampta Pass, they’re in the Chandrataal Lake and the dry Spiti Valley.
Not everything that’s famous has the water to hold its fame, but these treks quite literally do. So, if you ever get a chance to walk these twisted terrains, seize it with your entire being.