Trans Himalaya 2019 – Gadasru Mahadev Lake, July 1-2

After a short but comfy sleep on top of one of the buses in the Chamba depot I rise at dawn and grab two cups of hard in the local tea shop. I board the 5:30am bus to Bhanjraroo 1700m, the base of my next hike to Gadasru Mahadev Lake 4500m.A good 60km from Chamba, I reached Bhanjraroo around 9:30am and was starving for some good breakfast after yesterday’s intense Gaj pass crossing. I gobbled up three plates of fried mommos and packed up 2 aloo parottas and few snacks for the estimated 2 day trek to the lake.A nice cobbled path branches of the road just above Bhanjraroo and climbs up gradually roughly along the ridge. One gets beautiful views on the valleys below on both sides of the ridge. We cross the village of Nosra where a beautiful old engraved stone can be seen at the fountain.A bit higher still the trail passes the hamlet of Dwara and contours left of the ridge through beautiful pine forest. Along the way we pass the tribal settlements of Kindar, Dimdha and Dildar. Local tribes here live in large rock houses plastered with mud and big wooden ceilings covered with soil on top.I curiously enter into one of the huge homes at Dildar. Large tree trunks support the roof of big single space where people live, cook, sleep and share space with their cattle. A friendly family offers me tea and rottis while I admire the beauty of their majestic home.I resume my journey climbing up steeply from Dildar to the ridge above where I get back onto the Yatra trail which is clearly marked with yellow arrows. I encounter a few beautiful horses grazing in a meadow near a single home.I take a quick peek inside and marvel at yet another impressively constructed home. A friendly tribal man is having lunch and guides me in the right direction towards the Gadasru Mahadev Lake.I continue walking along a nice trail through meadows on top of ridge. A little ahead I encounter a few shepherds grazing their herd on the steep meadows below the ridge. From the ridge I take in immersive views on the Pir Panjal range seperating Chamba and Pangi valleys.The green meadows display hues of yellow, pink, white and blue. Different types of alpine flowers bloom at the onset of summer in the Himalayas, a colourful feast for the eyes. Each type of flower flourishes in its own preferred environment in terms of altitude, water presence and other aspects.The path climbs up steadily to 3500m as it contours around the ridge and saddles. Left and right we get treated on nearby views of the snow covered Pir Panjal. I try to spot some of the passes I crossed last yearI meet several locals on the way which are collecting roots from the higher altitude bushes probably for medicinal purposes. They cut the roots in small pieces and dry them in the sun before carrying down in big sacks to the villages below.At the time of sunset I settle down along the trail at 3500m just before the steep climb to across a 4100m high ridge. The orange sky and pink rododendroms provide a colourful display. There s a light drizzle so I squeeze inside my bivy and have my dinner: aloo parotta with curd to energize for the next day ahead.From my campsite in the rododendrom bushes I take in the beautiful view on the snow covered ridge ahead where the trail climbs up steeply hoping I will be able to cross safely tomorrow with my ice axe. Deep down in the valley I hear the soothing sound of the stream.I huddle inside my warm sleeping bag while the outside temperature drops quickly. Soon darkness sets in and twinkling stars appear on the firmament above, shining brighter as the sun drops further below the horizon. As the eyes adjust to the nocturnal darkness the Milky way slowly fades in.Woke up the next morning to another beautiful day. It’s usually pretty cold outside to leave the comfort of your cosy warm sleeping bag. Inside my water proof bivy the body warmth usually condenses and wettens the sleeping bag.I initially had to cross a few large snow sections. Mornings the snow is frozen so more hard and slippery but I could walk across as the gradient was low. After this the path climbs up steeply along steep rock faces to a 4100m pass.Being a popular pilgrim destination the route was pretty clear to follow. Mani had also done an excellent job of manually marking the trail which comes in handy as reference. I had to cut steps with my ice axe through 4 steep frozen snow gullies.After a 2 hour 600m ascent I reached the top of the ridge and got treated on beautiful close up views of the mighty Pir Panjal range. As expected the North facing side of the ridge was completely covered by snow. Proceeding further would be a real challenge.Looking at the map I could see the further trail to Gadasru Mahadev contouring along steep slopes. Getting through 5k of steep frozen snow was not an option. Too much effort and I had little rations remaining. I looked at a second option to hike down the snow covered valley which appeared very gradual but I saw a steep final drop to the main valley. Another dead-end.I decided for the only sensible remaining thing to do: take a U turn and return the same way I came. Going downhill would be much faster. Along the way I met two local tribals who graze their herds in the meadows. Last night I had seen their campfire in the valley below.This time I followed a different trail which runs on top of the ridge and discovered many more small, hidden hamlets of beautiful rock and mud homes of tribals staying in the meadows and forests far beyond the last villages in the valley below.All of them had stunning views on the snow covered peaks around. These people were truly living in paradise. The meadows and views were instilling a deep feeling of peacefulness. I looked around inside many of the homes which were beautiful constructed with large tree trunks.No doors, no locks, no windows. Half of the home was allocated to their cattle. At one home I met this little girl who was playing with her little sheep in the meadow outside her beautiful mud home. She was eager to have her photo taken around the house.I finally met these two chaps on the way down who carried roots collected from the mountains back to their village. They gave me company and were as fast as pro ultra runners descending into the valley. I reached back to Kanjraroo by evening and after another two days of calorie burning it was hogging time again.Bus to my next destination the base of the Marhu pass was Scheduled at 6:30am in the morning so I looked for a peaceful rooftop nearto the bus stand to settle down for the night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *