The night was cold at 3100m at the snowline at the base of the Indrahar pass. Had a deep sleep being tired from 2 full days of travel fom Chennai. It was hard to tell when the morning broke as the full moon lit up the night. Woke up from my Bluebolt tent around 7am surrounded by frozen snow. Packed up and started descending towards the viewpoint on Dharamkot where we had network for my co hiker Sneha had to attend college classes.
We now descended along the South ridge below Triund peak. The ridgeline is covered with beautiful, lush green meadows and gradually descends into the Kangra plains while offering beautiful views on Dharamsala below. There are regular cafe’s (dhaba’s) along the path which is marked with yellow arrows. The path drops down to road head village of Bangotu at 1850m where most tourists start hiking towards Triund.
We followed a trail from the first hair pin bend of the road into lush green forest below which eventually got us into mesmerizing tea estates further down. A nice rock path eventually gets us down to the road near Kandi village where we drop into a small dhaba and indulge in soupie Maggie with eggs while charging up the electronics. The love of the friendly dhaba owner is reflected in the taste of his delicious food
Next target is a 1500m climb to Chamunda Devi aka The Rising Star aka Chatkar peak at 2800m offering 360 degree views on the Dhauladhar and Kangra plains below. We hike around 6km from Kandi along narrow paths trough small villages and golden brown farmlands to Ghari Wale from where the trail starts towards the peak. With no water in the smaller streams and climbing up along a dry ridgeline we fill up our water reserves.
The path which is clearly marked with pink arrows starts in the valley and then steadily climbs up towards the left ridge through pine forest. It now hair pins up along the ridgeline towards the peak initially through open scrub and then Rododendrom forest. We started late by 4pm from the base so did not expect to reach the peak today itself.
After a solid 2 hour climb we hear the sound of sheep and goat by 6pm. Two elder shepherds set up camp mid way. They invite us to sit down with them and offer a fresh cup of goat milk tea. The two gentlemen are planning to cross the Dhauladhar through an unknown pass right of Mun peak into Chamba valley later in May after the snowline recedes.
Their herd consists of 400 animals camped up near a deserted dwelling fallen in ruins. From the location we get beautiful views on the Kangra plains below with its golden farmlands. We can spot several small dwellings on the neighbouring valley slopes connected by steep trails. We watch the skies turn deep orange as the sun sets below the dark skies above the Dhauladhar.
We join the shepherds for dinner around the cooking fire. Freshly prepared chaval with curd dhal tastes delicious after a draining ascent in the afternoon summer sun. My co trekker Sneha cuddles a small new born goattie while feeding it milk from a baby bottle. We settle down in my Bluebolt tent as a myriad of lights appear in the plains below us.