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Old 26th March 2024, 08:11   #1
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A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

Trekking in the himalayas can be a life changing experience. I am like something of a late bloomer when it comes to treks, having started trekking only after I reached 40 and have realised what I was missing. Maybe it was the introspection during covid time which led me to undertake my first major trek- the kashmir great lakes trek. It freed my mind. It made me realise how little we actually need to make us happy and how little time we have. After this, I decided to try and do at least one major trek a year. So coming to the next year, 2023, it was time to select a trek. I always wanted to do a crossover trek, that means that you enter the trek at one location and then you cross over to a different environment totally and exit there.
The Pin bhava trek is one of that. It is perhaps the grandest crossover trek in the country. It starts from a place called Kafnu, after Rampur on the Shimla - Kinnaur road and ends in Mud village near Kaza, Spiti. It traverses the Bhava valley and the Pin valley and the Bhava pass in between. It is not an easy trek. It is graded as a moderate to difficult trek. The altitude reaches a dizzy 16100 ft and any exertion at these heights can leave you breathless.
We planned the trek in july, but due to the cloudburst over Himachal at that time, the roads were washed away and the trek was rightly cancelled. The organization we went with this time was called Bikat adventures. I selected them because of their small group sizes and because they are less mainstream. They said we can take a voucher and use it to do the trek any time within the next one year. We decided to do the trek right at the end of the season. Sept 30th was the last date possible, since these areas are covered in snow and inaccessible after mid October.
The people- We as a couple were joined by two of our old friends- Devaroon, a school friend based in Guwahati and Biswajit, from Bangalore, a close friend from mbbs days. They did not have prior himalayan trekking experience but they strictly followed the fitness and preparation regimen needed for any high altitude trek. Also, I guided them best I could regarding what to buy and what to pack.

Finally the day arrived. We three flew from Guwahati to Chandigarh and reached around 3 pm and found Biswa already waiting for us. After a quick cup of tea, we found the taxi- an ertiga, arranged by BHPian and good friend wanderernomad, and straight away left towards Shimla. We decided not to stay at Shimla and crossed Shimla at around 9 pm and reached Kufri by 10 and found a decent hotel to stay.
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The view from the hotel at Kufri.

Day1- We started at 7am and went via Narkanda, Rampur etc and reached the quaint little village of Kafnu just around dusk. This was the base camp for the trek
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The famous landmark on the Kinnaur road

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Recent landslides had made the road conditions like this, in places.

At Kafnu we stayed in a homestay and met our co trekkers. There were a grand total of ten people and our dynamic trek leader Pachu.


Day2- This is when the actual trek begins. At first the route goes through a dirt road beside the river for some distance where some hydroelectric project work is going on. After an hour into the trek, you leave behind all traces of human habitation and the route goes through a forest of tall firs.
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All set. The four of us at the start.

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Initial steps into the trail

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Tall firs all around.

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A small river giving us company.

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I can surely walk through these landscapes all day.

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Walk on..

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A few stream crossings by way of natural bridges.

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A view of the valley we were about to traverse.
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A clearing in the woods

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A well deserved rest.

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Another few ups and downs.

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Finally some level ground

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fetching some water to drink.

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Some of the nomadic herdsmen coming down the slopes with their flocks, a sure sign of the coming winter snow. Incidentally, these were the last humans apart from our group members that we saw for the next few days.

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Finally we reached the Mulling campsite. This place was really perfect in every way. A dream place to camp.

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Setting up the tents by the river. Quite windy at night but we had clear skies and a million stars for company.

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Us.

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Even the toilet tent was scenic

Last edited by pyrodrive : 29th March 2024 at 16:10.
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Old 27th March 2024, 01:53   #2
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Re: A walk to Spiti - A trekking travelogue.

Day3- Mulling to Kara. This day was one of the easier days of the trek. Just need to walk for 5-6 hours at the most.
Started with a walk along the misty plateau, with some light showers on occasion.
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Leaving the lush valley behind and then the climb to take us above the tree line.
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The beautiful Kara campsite
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Reflections
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Pristine

Day4- Kara to upper Pushtirang
Technically this day was not supposed to be difficult, the distance being relatively short. But it was mostly all uphill and the gain in altitude was begining to tell.
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Walking among the high meadows, we were above the tree line now.

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The gaddi dogs of the shepherds, what a beauty.

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Ponies grazing in the most amazing backdrop
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A wooly foal looking at us with curiosity.

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The climb continues on
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.. and on
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.. and on.
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A rest stop turns into a climb onto a big rock.

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And then the climb continues again.


Finally we reach the campsite of upper Pushtirang. This was the highest campsite of the trek and was bitterly cold and windy. Snowflakes were falling as we pitched our tents hurriedly.

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Suddenly the weather lifted and there was a fleeting period of sunshine.
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Enjoying a cup of hot tea.

The effects of altitude were evident. Several trek mates were having different degrees of headaches and we could see one of them vomiting too. Besides it was cold (already subzero) and windy.
That night we turned in early in preparation for the big day ahead.
Day5
-This was the D- day. Night start, steep inclines, snow, high altitude, pass crossing and entry into another dimension- the dry pin valley. This day had it all. It was going to a difficult day, no doubt about that.
The day began at 2 AM! In the subzero conditions, we gingerly stepped out of our tents and had a light meal of dalia/ oats and milk. After some stretching, we were off in a single file, the path illuminated by our head torches.
The climb was steep. With frequent breathless pauses, we steadily made our way up. After about 3hours of lung busting climb, the stars faded and the pre dawn light slowly lit up the sky.
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The going, however did not get any easier, and patches of snow started to appear.
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The climb continued on.
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The snow increased too and was slippery in places.
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Dawn.

Finally we reached the summit of the pass around 9 am.

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What a moment it was ! We got a little emotional as well and hugged our friends.

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Then it was time to cross over to the other side. Ploughing through the fresh snow.

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The difference in landscapes was stark. It was like passing into another dimension. From the lush and green Bhava valley through the snowy mountains towards the dry and barren pin valley into Spiti.

Last edited by pyrodrive : 29th March 2024 at 16:15.
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Old 28th March 2024, 02:13   #3
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Re: A walk to Spiti - A trekking travelogue.

As the day progressed, the scenery continued to change. It was the arid landscape of Spiti with varying shades of red and brown. The drying grasses giving the whole valley a rusty red hue.

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Pin valley.
Hard to imagine that we were in a green and lush valley just 2 days ago.
The day was endless, our water either ran out or was frozen inside our bottles and in the last few hours we all were like zombies, exhausted and dehydrated and with aching limbs and parched throats, we finally pulled into the campsite. We had been on the trail for 14 hours! And at that altitude.
I made a big mistake that day, due to the terrible thirst I gulped down a large amount of ice cold water from the stream just as we reached the campsite. It immediately lowered my core body temperature and I had chills and fever shortly after.
The next day was thankfully the last day but there was the small matter of walking 15kms through the same unforgiving landscape.


Day 6- Unfortunately the fever was still there, but some light breakfast and a paracetamol later, I was in high spirits again and we started the last day's trek.
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The sights were amazing and although it was a 15km walk, it did not feel difficult at all.
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Hot and cold. Harsh sun and cold weather, as they say you can get both sunburn and frosbite together.
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A well earned rest.
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The warm sunshine almost lulls me to sleep.

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Walking on through the valley

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A light moment

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Crossing a few streams

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Tyre tracks and a pole. Signs of human habitation.

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Mud village up ahead.

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The final stretch, crossing a bridge and a short climb into the village.

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The deserted streets of Mud village at just past noon.
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Finally some proper food.
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The full team.

The team leader arranged a van for us from Mud village to Kaza and we were soon in Kaza and checked into zostel spiti. We went to the market area for some gustatory indulgence. Also the arrangements for the mandatory post trek party was on. Running water, hot water on tap and a proper bed to sleep in, these small things always feel like a luxury after a long trek and so do non veg food (for us at least).
Next day we had to stay in Kaza due to road closure for a rally and the following day we could go down to Manali via Kunzum pass and the Atal tunnel and it was back to the hustle and bustle. The next day it was onward to Chandigarh to catch a flight back home and the usual routines, but the sights and feel and the isolation of the trek will be forever in our memories. The best thing about this experience was that there were no other trekking groups, no big noisy groups from Indiahikes/ TTH etc. The silence and the noise of the wind, the raw nature and the incomparable beauty of our mountains will remain with us when we are old and grey and look back into our lives.

Thanks for reading.

Last edited by pyrodrive : 29th March 2024 at 16:31.
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Old 29th March 2024, 22:48   #4
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Re: A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th March 2024, 23:21   #5
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Re: A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

What an amazing adventure! I bet the natural beauty all around on the 6th day also contributed to the high spirits and getting over the fever.

Reading all these wonderful travelogues on a Friday afternoon is probably the best way to pass the time.
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Old 30th March 2024, 12:12   #6
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Re: A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

Beautiful pictures and I can imagine what a feeling it must have been. That is some inspiration too for some of us. Everything else seemed perfect but somehow I couldn't agree with one of the pictures.

The toilet tent seemed too close to the river (or was it the angulation effect?). Correct me if I'm wrong but it felt like that in the picture.
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Old 30th March 2024, 12:19   #7
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Re: A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudanmohit View Post
Beautiful pictures and I can imagine what a feeling it must have been. That is some inspiration too for some of us. Everything else seemed perfect but somehow I couldn't agree with one of the pictures.

The toilet tent seemed too close to the river (or was it the angulation effect?). Correct me if I'm wrong but it felt like that in the picture.
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Happy trekking
The toilet tents are always bit far from the river. That is mandatory for every campsite in all treks. There was a flat ground for some distance and then you can go down to the river. The river is actually quite some way down from there, it is just that the pic was taken from far.

Last edited by pyrodrive : 30th March 2024 at 12:22.
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Old 30th March 2024, 12:49   #8
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Re: A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

Absolutely stunning! These photos are truly a feast for the eyes. Especially the view from the hotel at Kufri.
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Old 30th March 2024, 12:58   #9
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Re: A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

Thank you Pyrodrive for such detailed travelogue. I also hope to trek there this year, can you share the itinerary and overall cost please ?
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Old 14th April 2024, 13:18   #10
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Re: A walk to Spiti | A trekking travelogue

Very nice travelogue with lovely pics
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