Look Down. Breathe Deeply. Keep Walking

There’s nothing that a cup of coffee couldn’t solve. My sister would solemnly agree with me here. Coffee’s problem solving capability is one of the few things that my sister and I agree to. There were two things that made my breakfast coffee very special up in the mountains:

  1. Watching the mountains and having my breakfast. This was one time when I wouldn’t think much about the distance that we need to walk for the day. It was the time when I would just breathe in the mountain air mixed with the earthy smell and aroma of coffee teasing my olfactory
  2. It used to be chilly in the morning. And just standing there with the hot cup warming my fingers and sipping it, I knew I was home

The morning of Pass day was clearer than the last two days. Up in the mountains we can see the Sun shining and we were hopeful of having a rain-less ascent and descent for the day. Yes! We were going to have our first descent of the trek.

Before starting the walk uphill, as I looked around, I was not intimidated but found the mountains kind of peaceful. They were still huge, but seemed a little kinder today. And as we left, my eyes stopped over those prayers stone one last time. It was time to start moving in the formation that was decided by our TL.

The Sun shone on us over the mountain. Today it was competing with mountains as to who would make these trekkers journey more strenuous. The heat of the Sun or the magnificence of the Mountains. In the first 30 minutes we had to stop either to apply more sunscreen, or take out our sunglasses or to cover yourselves up from the Sun’s ray or to remove the layers that we had worn in the chill of the morning. With that came our first stop. No photograph taken was able to justify the beauty of this place. But here are few.

first-stop-hampta-pass-day
Waiting out at the first pit stop

look-down-deep-breathe-and-walk

The stream that flowed from the mountains was glistening in the Sun. As it flowed down the mountains, it seemed as if it were smiling and greeting us on our way up. From this point on it was about crossing ridges and walking on scree. As we walked on the scree, we could see the snow peaked mountains far beyond. It was getting chillier as we started to gain altitude. It started to rain and the mist surrounded us again. And on the way we met these natural trekkers of the mountains.

natural-trekkers-mountain-goats-shepherded
Picture of elegance, aren’t they?

We met many such flocks of sheep, goats and khacchars on the Pass day. Shepherds and their dogs guarding and guiding them. Looking back I realized they had more etiquette than we humans do. Whenever they saw us walking on the same path, they always sought out a different path so as not to block our way. In contrast to walking in the city where everyone is waiting to block the next person just so that he can move forward of the other.

Soon we were at the pass. I don’t know what I had expected to see or feel. I was neither exhilarated nor I felt a sense of achievement. However, a certain sense of satisfaction did make me feel better. The trek, the journey that started just as a tick mark in my bucket list had became a chapter. The chapter which I intend to revisit again and again.

It was getting misty again and rains hadn’t stopped so we had to start our descent from the 14,380 feet to 11,800 feet. The descent was far more difficult than the ascent of past 2 days. The rocky terrain can be rough on your knees. The snaky path can be terrifying, moresoever, when you have to be more careful of your steps. Because if you accidently kick a stone it could hit one of your fellow trekker who are ahead and below you on the curvy ascent. But when you have view like this, every step and being cautious is what keeps you going!

Entering Spiti Valley and Shea Goru Campsite
The ridges of the Spiti Valley. The Desert Valley of Himalayas. Campsite Shia Goru – Oasis of the Spiti. The campsite were always our motivation towards the end of the trek

We were in time for our lunch but the landscape, the mountains had just satiated our hunger plus the glacial river flowing just made the atmosphere soothing.

Shea Goru or Shia Goru

When the Indiahikes site claimed that Shia Goru is the most beautiful campsite I had underestimated the beauty of it. The complete setup was beyond imagination. And the evenings just made the right setup for a quite place to enjoy the company of yourself. I had heard many times during the trek to be grateful to the mountains for the safe journey; had seen enough prayer stones on the way to believe it to be true. As I stood watching the Sun play the game of lights and shadows with the Mountains in this valley, I couldn’t help but be grateful to them. The trek made me more humbler. It brought in more humility in me. It also made me realize that it is okay to ask for help in your journey. Asking makes it easier for you to complete your journey and it also helps know your shortcomings, to both your companions and to yourself.

Here is one photograph that I really love from the trek and from the most beautiful campsite of Hampta Pass

An evening in the Spiti Valley
The Fluffy clouds that makes you want to raise your hand and play with them. Chenab river flowing by. Blooming Himalayan wild flowers on the shore, in the midst of the desert. And the snow peaked mountains that completes the picture!

As it was always in case of all the campsite, it started to get chilly as the Sun went down completely behind the mountains. The cloudy nights and the mist meant we couldn’t see the starry nights. But on clearer nights this is how the night sky at Spiti looks like

Himalayan starry nights of Shea Goru
(Top) Galactic sky on clearer sky at Shea Goru campsite. PC : Milind Tambe. (Bottom) Sky we witnessed on our day at Shea Goru. PC : Avinash Hebbar

Next day dawn meant the last leg of the trek. Despite being excited for Chandrataal, I was disheartened with the fact that trek is coming to an end. It also meant returned to the modern civilization.  To give you a glimpse here is next day, check it out below:

last-day-hampta-pass-trek

Psst… there was a surprise waiting for us the next morning before we started. The surprised that turned out to be a numbing shock! Keep watching this space to know about it.

Check out this amazing video by a fellow trekker, Pratap J that captures the complete journey :


Check out the other posts of this Hampta Pass trek below:

  1. The Day it started
  2. To Jwara
  3. At Balu ka Gera
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6 thoughts on “Look Down. Breathe Deeply. Keep Walking

    1. Wish you the same Dipanwita. You should go there in Monsoon. I know you love to trek during these months so it would be a good choice for you next year. It should definitely be in your list.

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