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Old 16th December 2009, 10:21   #16
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Palampur
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Day 10

This was the 2nd day of crossing a pass on the trail. It began relatively early at 10 to 8. A look however at the trail to the pass clearly told us that this would be much easier on the feet and the lungs as compared to Indrahar. Jalsu, at 3425 metres above sea level is definitely lesser of a pass in an altitude sense as compared to Indrahar or for that matter, any of those between Indrahar and Jalsu along the Dhauladhars. Add to that the much easier trail which slopes up to the pass rather than wading up to the pass, you get the complete picture.
You do not walk up to Jalsu, you walk into it. The trail slopes very slightly up many ridges before it slopes up steeply for all of 10 minutes to reach Jalsu. When you compare this to Indrahar, the slopes are less steep, there are hardly any gorges, rather good old valleys, less rock, more green, more sun and hence more dust. It is lesson in nature's grand plan that passes barely 40 km apart on the same mountain range can look so different and support such different life forms. Each has a beauty of its own kind, you just cannot compare them. Up the trail, there are little yellow flowers growing from the grass. Anywhere else, they would look bad and you would 'weed' them out. On these pristine green grasslands though, they look like heaven itself and you want to photograph them in all forms.
The diversity of the colours this pass throws up is amazing. The light green of the fresh grass, the yellow of the flowers, the dark green of the bushes, the yet darker green of the Deodars, the brown of the burnt grass, the grey of the rocks and the clear blue of the sky.
The very fact that I have been describing the beauty and the colours of the trail till now rather than the difficulty of the trail itself should go some way in telling you how relatively easy the trail was. None of us actually felt the trail. After a break at a wayside tea stall, where an old drunk Gaddi gentleman danced to the tunes of Tujhe Dekha to yeh... played by Gavin on his guitar, I set off towards the pass earlier than the others because I wanted to stop and take photographs on the way. I am not satisfied with most of the results but am still producing a few here. At least something to show for all my pains!!
We finally reached Jalsu pass at around 11 am and rested right at the top with a generous helping of Marie biscuits and water. The views on all sides; just gorgeous. Snow laden Manimahesh peak, nestled deep in the ranges of Dhauladhars at the back, Kali Mitti (काली मिट्टी) peak leading to Bada Bhangal on the left, Kangra valley in front of us and other Dhauladhar passes on the right. Of note is the view of the Manimahesh peak. Its like looking through a sand clock of mountains. Jalsu, at 3425 Metres, sloping down right to around 2000 metres through various ridges for a few km and then gradual way back up to the Manimahesh peak, higher than 5000 metres.
Since Jalsu is not a very high pass and the trail is easier to walk on, it is more frequently used by shepherds. Decaying bodies and skeletons of cows bear testimony to this. We saw some on our way down from Jalsu. Just below the pass, an oak jungle starts, same as those found around Triund. Later the oak gives way to conifers starting with Deodar and Firs and finally pine. There are also these 'diving birds' which can stay still in the air for sometime and then suddenly dive like a stork trying to catch fish. After a dive, they stay still for sometime and another dive. The dives and stills are interspersed with some normal flights to gain height. Locally, these birds are known as Doi (डोई). The first 1 hour after the Jalsu pass is really hard on the feet, you end up losing 800 metres of elevation in no time. The knees knock against the knee caps, the toes against the boot and the heels on the ground. A few metres below the pass, we also noticed the beginnings of the Binwa (बिनवा) stream. I wondered how a trek across a pass is about seeing the lives of 2 streams, one in flashback, the other in normal order. The Jalsu trek started along a stream joining Ravi close to Lake wali Mata, all the way up till it becomes a small drain close to Jalsu and then on the other side, Binwa starts from a small spring, then a drain, then a small stream, till it becomes large enough to be tapped for electricity generation.
The most important feature of this day from a trekking sense was the sheer drop in altitude in a single day and the number of hours of walking, 1200 metres and 8 hours respectively. After a lunch break at another of those shepherd stops, we finally reached Khodtru Dhar, yet another temporary shop and a shepherd stop. And here, we had the tastiest and most elaborate dinner of the trek. A freshly picked organic radish, fresh tomatoes and cucumber for salad and fresh cabbage steamed with spices and local kidney bean curry with rice for the main course. All this gulped down with local alcohol, Una No 1, followed by a Nestle Milk Chocolate each. Life just does not get any better!
Having the luxury of two rooms, the group banished the snorers viz. Jango and me to one room while Suresh, Gavin and Patrick slept in the other room.
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Old 16th December 2009, 22:05   #17
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Palampur
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Ok, the last day now. I know that this has not been the best presented travelogue but I promise to set this right the next time around. And next time is a really interesting and wandering sort of trip.

This was the final day of the trek, so we were understandably anxious to end this. It is amazing how you do not realize the fatigue all this while and in one single day, each muscle and bone in the body starts creaking. It is of course the mental aspect of knowing that you are finished which relaxes the body and makes the muscles cry out. Our ankles, knees, toes, hamstrings, thighs all were crying for attention on the last day, eager to get into hot or cold water, as the preference may be.
Once we started down though and body warmed up, the pains vanished and I saw some beautiful jungles. This area is more humid than any other part of the trail. The result; some lush green atypical jungles for Himachal. There are the usual oaks growing tall for sunlight; the non-thorny variety, a thin, short, light green bamboo The green thin bamboo

used by locals for making baskets and Bathoru (बठोरु) with a lot of undergrowth which is not characteristic of Dhauladhars at all. The mountain faces are full of spring water and there is enough soil on the rocks, which fuels this undergrowth.
The Uttrala reservoir

After walking for 4 hours through this lush jungle and overlooking the reservoir for the Binwa power station, we reached Uttrala at noon. We feasted on a few cokes and potato crisps at the power station canteen while waiting for the bus and then we went our separate ways.

And now I await the next one, slated in another few days.
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Old 1st September 2013, 22:31   #18
Join Date: May 2012
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Default Re: Journey through the Dhauladhars and back

Amazing travelogue - one that brings out human determination, amazing vistas and the Himalayas in a perfect blend. Hats off! We would like some more pictures please.

Triund is one of the places I have thought of trekking to sometime and I hope it comes through.

Once again - superb travelogue and some amazing, straight-from-the-heart writing. Kudos - rated the deserved five stars !

Cheers !
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