The occasion was perfect and the trek was long-awaited. This is perhaps the best way, I could experience raw nature. Trekking in Kinnaur had been a hidden desire within me. I had already trekked in the remote Himalayas in Lahaul and Spiti but could not find appropriate time and occasion to plan trekking in Kinnaur.
It was a visit in 2014 which gave me the opportunity when in a NABARD funded project. I had to do some data collection in the area. I had worked in Chaura, a small village in the area in 2004 but could not find time to plan a trek to the hills of Rupi which seemed so formidable.
I still distinctly remember that the trail began with a rugged jeep ride to the approach point of the trek some 5 Km from Chaura. The road was dangerous enough and I was having second thoughts of walking the entire distance.
However, the driver, Vijay was an experienced person who took to the mighty road with the ease anyone would cruise along the Chandigarh- Delhi highway.
The Tough Initial climb
Few Parle-G biscuits and a cup of tea offered the much -needed solace as the only shop on the approach. The first few Km were a dry straight climb patch and it seemed that my head was turning around as I saw down deep into the gorge.
Fumbling on the stones and clinging to my life, I kept climbing along with two other friends who were accompanying me for the work. After a few km climb, we came across a flat patch which gave us some respite. The first village of Majhgaon was before us.
A school with nicely dressed students and a functional clinic gave us a respite that things are not as bad up in the hills, as it is often perceived. The climb to the top was yet far away. We had planned to spend the night at Rupi village which was the highest point of this trek.
Dangers lurking at every point
A unique point about these valleys is that you could never judge how deep these are. The entire belt of Rupi which comprises several villages is not visible from far away. It is only when you approach the turns that you realize that the entire valley are bundled away in the mountains.
It was in one such valley in this area only that one of my friends, an Army Aviation Pilot lost his life when the chopper got entangled in the wires villagers use to transfer apple crops from high hills. Well, that story is for some other day.
The Final Ascent
Our trekking in Kinnaur expedition was progressing at a rapid pace and in another one hour, we were at Rupi village which was the highest one of the lot. I could feel a sense of accomplishment to have reached a mountain top, a feeling which soon dwindled away when I realized that it is a regular way of life for locals of the region.
The night halt at the Forest Rest House, a British time building was the most memorable part as the chowkidar enthralled us with the tales of British ghosts who still haunted the place. It was another thing that I was more scared of the Black Bears which had been sighted in the area.
The other morning we work up to the most mesmerizing view of our life when on the one hand the sun rose from the majestic mountains and the river Sutlej flowed down some thousands of feet down. The sense of accomplishment of trekking in Kinnaur had finally been achieved.