The night was peaceful on the ridgeline to Chamunda Devi high above the twinkling village lights in the Kangra plains below. There was some disturbance in the herd of 400 sheep and goat during the night. Shepherd dogs were barking in the nearby forest possibly fending off a potential predator. At 6am one of the elder shepherds woke us up with a steaming cup of fresh goat milk chai.
One of two shepherds had packed up woolen blankets and food ration on his back and was moving to higher grounds. The herd was slowly migrating across an unknown pass over the Dhauladhar into the alpine meadows of the Ravi river valley in Chamba. We packed up our Bluebolt bivy tent and proceeded our way up towards the Rising Star peak, another 2 hour climb along a clear rock path.
The views on the plains far below were getting more immersive as we climbed higher up. To the left and right of the ridgeline we could see several small isolated hamlets or dwellings hanging onto the steep valley slopes. Small trails were hair pinning their way up the slopes connecting these remote human settlements, some of them abandoned for the comfort of the cities.
As we make our way up we venture through rododendrom bushes which eventually fade out into open grass lands higher up. The final section to the peak is quite steep and the rock trail contours left around to the peak. The top is covered by beautiful meadows offering 360 degree views – South on the Kangra plains far below and North the snow covered Dhauladhar ranges.
There s a beautiful rock mandir on top and a big metal board with the symbol of the Rising Star army cantonment located at the base of the hill which takes care of the maintenance of the mandir. A solar powered light flashes red during the night. There s a herd of sheep grazing the steep meadows below the peak while the shepherd is hand spinning wool thread which he uses to make his own jacket.
After taking in the mesmerizing views at the top for 2 hours and enjoying our packed chomwin noodles on the meadows the summer sun starts beaming down more intensely at 10am. We decide to make a move and walk Nort along the ridgeline towards the Dhauadhar. I use the peakfinder app to offline identify the main peaks and passes along the range.
End of April the Dhauladhar are still covered by a good amount of (fresh) snow so any crossing at this time appears difficult. After a final glance (I ll be back soon…) we commence our descend. Two hundred meters below the peak we spot the campsite of the elder shepherd and a nice rock path which appears to offer a different route down the hill.
We decided to check it out – it’s always more interesting to explore a different trail then reversing through the same route. We reach the shepherd’s camp who offers us a cup of tea. He tells us that this path directly descends into the valley but eventually becomes too steep due to landslides. We decide to abort and take a U turn along the same route we camp up.
On the way down we see some locals mining slates from the landslided slopes used for building rooftops. As the sun gets more intense we hurry our way down. I cover myself with a blanket not to get skin burnt. We eventually reach down around 3pm back to the small dhaba at the base. We indulge in some soupie egg maggie noodles and cool drinks.
We now jump on a local bus back to Dharamsala and connecting bus to McLeod Ganj for our next traverse – Kareri lake and an attempt of the Baleni pass at 3700m a lower cross over to Chamba. From McLeod Ganj we walk along a peaceful road through serene pine forest back towards our base of Naddi village to drop / pick up a few gears to optimize our baggage.
We drop into a small road side dbaba which serves lip smacking mutton fried mommo’s which I catch up some blogging on my Bluetooth Portronics chicklet keyboard. After recharging our electronics we settle down for the night below the pagoda next to the Dal lake surrounded by peaceful pine forest. Light drizzle falls from the night skies as we dream off in our Bluebolt bivy tent.