I needed a break from the hustle bustle of the city life and also from the monotonous and stressful kind of life I was dug into. After a few days, I found myself with a backpack and the itch in my feet and the thrill in my soul making it to this amazing and definitely one of the unexplored places of Himachal Pradesh.
I along with two of my friends had left from Delhi by car in the evening and had reached Rampur at around 2 am. Here we had planned to stop by for a sound sleep and got up to the chilly day,viewing the mountains from the window and seeing the sun play hide and seek within the clouds. We explored the place a little, had lunch there and headed ahead to Kafnu via Wangtu.
Kafnu,is a tranquil village in the Bhabha valley of Kinnaur. Here, we reached by late evening and headed straight to the guest house. The managing staff was very friendly and had served us with hot and finger licking home made food. We had jumped onto our beds early as we knew that the much awaited trek for which we were thrilled about,had to be kicked off early that day.
The next day, we left the guest house by 6:30 am and could feel the chilly winds passing by us. Within minutes,our fingers were almost frozen and we knew, it wasn’t going to be an easy one. But, yes! we were mentally and physically prepared for this moderate to high level trek. We had to wait for a while for our trek guide “Shakti Bhaiya”,whom we had approached based on the referral of a friend. He is a very friendly and fun loving person and today, I owe him for making this trek a lifetime experience for me and making me reach back home safe and alive.
We had to buy a sleeping bag and mattress inorder to spend the night in a small forest guest house there at Mulling and also got some ration packed like daal, rice and flour along with packets of maggi and chocolates to survive the night. With alot of adrenaline rush & neurons exploding,we head out to Mulling which was about 12 Kms from Kafnu and at the altitude of about 3300 m. The view was spectacular and we had to trek through boulders of rocks for Kms (which made it a very tough call for the knees),through forest,streams,glaciers and meadows. We had come across coniferous trees and got the vista of the natural surroundings.
The trek is generally covered in 6 hrs but we did it in 4 good hrs.I literally, tapped my back for this, as the trek is suppose to be one of the most difficult treks in Himachal Pradesh that changes its landscape at every turn and throws forth challenges to trekkers.Hence it is recommended only for trekkers having prior experience of high altitude trekking with proper skills and proper kits especially shoes.
We however, reached Mulling and were so thrilled to witness God’s own creation that we just got lost in the moment.Our knees were hurting badly & we were exhausted and thirsty(for we had carried limited water bottles). There was no shop there or even home stays or guest houses but just one source to quench our thirst and that was the ice chilled stream running by. We filled our bottles with it, and quenched our thirst.We laid down on the meadows for hours enjoying the abode of nature,listening to neighing of horses, the gushing sound of the stream and birds chirping. It was a heavenly feeling to see the snow capped mountains and tall coniferous tress & above all finally accomplishing the trek. We didn’t realize when we had gone off to a sound sleep,lying down on the meadows when guide bhaiya came and woke us up and asked us to dumb our bagpacks in the small so called forest guest house which was being renovated then. It’s the only place to spend the night there before heading for Kara lake the next day. It’s just not possible to cover Kara lake the very same day as the trek is a tedious and challenging one.
At night we sat by the small fireplace and interacted with the workers there who were toiling day in and out breaking rocks in the biting cold weather to renovate the place for making it worth a stay for trekkers like you and me in the future. They had even managed cooking dinner for us with the help of that small fireplace. At that moment,plain daal,rice and hard rotis with few green chilies as dinner were good enough for our taste buds. Despite wearing 2 cardigans and a pullover and being well tucked up inside my sleeping bag, I couldn’t manage getting a sound sleep due to the shivers I was getting.It was just too hard for me to escape the cold. Add to it, it became more worse as my mind was occupied with thoughts of ghosts because of the stories shared back then while having dinner by the workers and guide bhaiya. The place looked scary as it was the only hideout there with no electricity either. (Ahhh…it would be insane to even think of electricity at such an altitude).Back then,I really wanted time to fly by and see the rays of the sun.
We got up the next morning at 6:00 am to head forth to Kara Lake which was 5kms ahead but seemed like eternity for me when I started it off, as my knees were hurting badly for I had strained them covering the stretch from Kafnu to Mulling in about 4 hrs(thanks to those boulders). We left without a nibble inorder to make it early to Kara lake so that we could trek down all the way to kafnu on the very same day.I had gathered alot of strength and pushed aside the pain of my knees and being a sportsperson, I din’t want to call it quit after making it so far and hence urged every cell in my body to be active and energetic to overcome all the challenges that would come ahead.
Kara Lake is at an altitude of about 3700 m and is a 3 hr trek from Mulling. We kept climbing through boulders and extremely narrow paths ( few inches extra and you would face death) and while trekking,I avoided looking back or at the depth as it took the hell out of me but at the same time I was feeling proud for having made it so far. After the strenuous trek we had a pleasant walk in the lap of green beautiful valleys with a river running beside it on the right side.
WOW! was the first word that struck our minds after reaching Kara Lake and the view was breath taking. The beauty of it will be captured not just in your eyes but even in your heart and soul for a lifetime. At the end, I felt relieved for having pushed my limits for such a thrilling experience and witnessing the creation of God. I was sitting in the lap of mother nature. It was calm, pleasant, serene and not just this but I found myself in an entirely different world. Our stomachs were growling for we had been only on water for these 3 hrs. We then sat down to have some snacks, captured the beauty in the lens of not just the camera but even our eyes and made sure to collect all the wrappers in a jute bag and dump it only in the dustbin upon reaching our guest house back at Kafnu.
We then headed our trek downwards to Kafnu at around 11:45 am and managed reaching back to Kafnu at around 5:30 pm after waving goodbye to our loving guide bhaiya at Katgaon. However,on my way back to Kafnu, my knees were soared up with pain and I could not lift my left leg much but had to limp around putting most of the weight on my right leg.
I even had a hard time crossing the glaciers as my legs no longer had the strength to make a firm grip on the snow and I kept slipping. However,I was given a helping hand by my friends and our guide bhaiya. At every point, where there was a glacier, he would wait for me, catch hold of my hand, keeping his grip strong and also making me believe in my capabilities that I could manage the next one on my own. I would literally get frozen from within on seeing them as my hurdle every now and then,for when you fear something, it shackles you from within.The fear of slipping down the glacier and get carried away by the cold ice currents would not make me move an inch ahead for I had already slipped on one of them and escaped death literally,due to the heroic act of our guide for having caught hold of my hand and making me feel safe.This is an experience I am never going to forget.
We had trekked a total of 22 kms that very day within almost 6 hrs and 35 kms in a day and a half. A trek which people complete it in 2 and a half to 3 days and with a bit of ease was accomplished by us in a day and a half but with dead legs and drained energy (which would be a little less if done in 3 days).
Kara Lake trek is not a commercialized one unlike other treks in Himachal which makes it one of the most difficult and raw treks. It’s one of the reasons why people rarely prefer going here as they aren’t really up to step out of their comfort zone. They have become too use to commercialized treks.
But, believe me friends, as much as u have Ladakh Leh, Spiti Valley, Rohtang Pass and other places in your must visit places in Himachal, you need to add this one too.It will be one of those treks which you will cherish for lifetime.
This trek, wasn’t just a break from the monotonous life but it also helped me believe in my capabilities,push my limits further and to accept challenges on the face of adversity. It helped me explore myself.
Last but not the least,I would love to mention this Himalayan friend of mine who accompanied me almost the entire way while trekking down from Mulling to Kafnu. I wish I could get one all the way to Delhi with me but I guess it’s best to leave them in their natural habitat.
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