Sleeping inside a spacious deserted rock home besides the warm glow of a fire is a luxury compared to camping inside a cramped tent. We rose to the daylight as we heard the shepherd take his sheep and goat up to the meadows above the dwelling. We had another 800m climb ahead of us in this side valley of the Channi Khad to cross over a saddle at 3100m leading towards Kareri lake in the neighbouring Nyund valley.
From the dwelling a less frequented trail climbs up along the valley periodically hopping left / right of the stream. Several side streams join from the right draining snow melt water from the steep Dhauladhar ranges revealing themselves above. The valley near the stream is mostly open with grasslands and sparse trees. The trail winds it way up along the stream climbing aross boulders.
The valley gets steeper as it reaches the final section, the trail hair pinning its way up to the saddle. After a solid 2 hour ascent we reach the top where the saddles opens up into beautiful, gently sloped meadows opening up. We settle down near a deserted rock home where we indulge in packed up mutton mommo’s while taking in the mesmerizing view on Kareri lake some 100 meters beneath us.
To the right the snow covered Minkiani pass reveals itself, one of the three passes leading up to the Lam Dal lake above. Recent snow fall has deposited a fresh layer of snow making a cross over to Chamba valley difficult. The grass lands in the valley below is sprinkled with large rock boulders above the Kareri lake.
A temple and a few dhabas dot the South side of the lake and we can see a few people at a campsite in the grasslands bordering the West end. We hike down a path from the saddle through rodo’s till we reach the grasslands around the lake. The freezing clear waters of Kareri are beautifully reflecting the snow covered Dhauladhar. We settle down in the meadows for a short snack break as the sun makes way for the usual afternoon thunders.
Our two companion dogs are playing in the meadows with the local dogs. A few tourist hikers are playing cricket next to the lake. As the weather changes to drizzle we resume our way hopping into the neighbouring Baleni Nalla valley. A steep descent follows along a partly landslided trail which hair pins dow into the valley below. The trail takes us through pine forest where we meet a shepherd grazing his herd.
Drizzle slowly turns into steady rains and we hurry our way down to the base of the valley to take shelter in one of the rock homes of a small isolated dwelling. Two other shepherds are taking a nap in one of the shelters and we join them while the rains are lashing outside. The daily summer cycle of intense morning sun and afternoon rains repeats itself.
After a one hour break the intensity of the showers fades out and we resume our way downstream the valley. We look for a spot to cross the wild waters of the Baleni Nalla to the main path on the right side of the stream. From the grass lands above we soon enter into scenic light green forests below. A clear wide rock path takes us down the valley.
We pass by a number of primitive hamlets consisting of a handful of rock homes with mud covered roofs. The seasonal dwellings are deserted waiting for their inhabitants to return later in May. These settlements have no surrounding farmlands, they appear to be used by cow herders to graze their animals in the high meadows during summer while migrating to lower altitudes during winter.
The beautiful rock path continuous on the right side of the valley till we reach a hydro power plan at the base where we cross sides and quickly get into the scenic farming village of Salli. Due to a covid bandh all shops are closed except for one small dhaba where we refill our stomachs and charge up our electronics. As dusk sets in we pitch up our tent in empty grasslands bordering the stream.