Trans Himalaya 2019 – Chaurasi Pass, July 6-7

After a good early lunch at Kalprai I set off on my way to the Chaurasi pass to get to my next base: the Kalicho pass where I hope to cross over to Lahaul again. The villagers of Kalprai are fully into harvest on top of their rooftops. From here the road goes till Datuin 2300m, the last village in the Chanju Nala valley.Just before Datuin at the road head is the Chanju Kali Mandir, a beautifully hand crafted wooden temple. Last year August many pilgrims where starting their annual yatra from here towards the Chaurasi Ka Dal lake at 3750m. Being a pilgrim destination the path which runs left of the Chanju Nala is very clear and well maintained.The trail initially goes through scenic forests above the thundering Nala, interspersed with lush green meadows. Along the way I come across a few shepherds which are grazing the meadows on the higher slopes above the forest in the valley.At one place I meet a few buffalo herders who walked all the way from Palampur to here to graze their cattle these nutricious meadows. They stay beneath a tarpaulin sheet with only basic luggage for the summer. They offer me a glass of buffalo milk and I resume my journey re-energizedFurther up the stream is partly covered with snow bridges with wood and bushes on top. The Chanju Nala appears from underneath periodically. The first signs of more snow to come at higher altitudes. I wonder how a solid layer an form on top of running water.Left and right side of the valley large waterfalls are dropping down from high above into the stream. Snow melting on the peaks above is in full progress at the start of summer. I cross a couple of bigger streams flowing down from the Pir Panjal range on the left side.Around 5pm I come across a familiar place: Rali Dhar at 2950m where I stayed overnight with a family last year. Surprised to see different people inhabiting the half open rock shelter, probably relatives. A kind elder man who is fixing the walls after the winter snow suggests I halt here.Having been on the move since 5am I call it even for today and settle down to write my daily blog. The lady of the houses prepares thick fluffy rottis with some yummy milk based sabji sprinkled with fresh ghee. A sumptuous feast after a 12 hour intense hike from the base of the Darati pass.I am able to squeeze in just 4 of these thick rottis around the cooking fire. I go for a stroll outside in the surrounding meadows and count 9 cows and one horse which provides daily needs to this family. No farming, just grazing and milk based food. While finishing my blog on a big tree trunk outside the lady brings me a cup of hot chai while the skies are bright orange as the sun sets above Chamba.We settle down for the night on thick blankets on a raised platform next to the cattle sharing the same roof. At 2950m the nights are still cold and I m glad to sleep inside this warm, comfy shelter close to the animals.Next morning I wake up and it’s raining outside. The entire valley is indulged in fog and I hope it ll clear up to cross the pass. The lady of the house has milked the (jersey) cow and is making lassi by rotating a big wooden laddle in a tub filled with milk. The man serves me hot tea and the lady starts preparing rottis.After breakfast I thank my hosts and am glad I stayed in this comfortable shelter during the cold rains. I proceed my way to the pass which is 10K and 1500m elevation gain away hoping to cross in 4 hours depending on the snow situation.

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