Trans Himalaya 2019 – McLeod Ganj – Kareri, June 18

The night was chill and peaceful below the portico near the Dal lake in the outskirts of McLeod Ganj. As usual a few street dogs have us company that night. We rose at 6am, kick started our system with some hot chai in the nearby shop and went off into the beautiful Dhauladhar mountains.We walked along the road towards Naddi from where we got into a jeep track contouring through beautiful pine forest lit up by the sunrise. Many pilgrims were descending from the Guna Mata temple 2100m. A nice stone path climbs up across the mountain slope towards what appears a frequented temple.The temple offers views on the snow clad Dhauladhar range above and the lush green valley below. After a solid 2 hour hike we gobbled up a few aloo parottas and omelette’s and washed them down with hot chai to refuel our energy levels. Being frequented by pilgrims there are many shops and rest houses nearby.From the temple a small trail drops down steeply towards Berli hamlet 1450m. Initially the trail goes through slippery forest soil, further down a nice rock path emerges. We meet a shepherd along the way and cross a hanging bridge towards Dhradka village in the Channi Khad valley.From Dhradka we walk upstream along a road to a new hydro project under construction. It appears to be two stages where stream water is diverted, funneled and dropped steeply through a steel pipe onto a set of turbines.From the hydro project we hop back onto a rocky trail which ascends right along the stream till we hit another road at the 2nd stage of the hydro project where the water is diverted into a tunnel. Here we proceed left of the stream and climb into a left side-valley. At 1pm we reach a small settlement where we cook some Maggie in an old home made of mud walls and wooden roof.Along the way a few locals descend carrying bags filled with alpine plants. Now the trail climbs up steeply along the stream where the water diminishes as we get closer to a saddle at 3100m from where it originates. We encounter a few snow bridges on the way.After the saddle the valley opens up in a beautiful meadow in which there is one stone house present. To the right we can see the Dhauladhar range peeking through the clouds. Misty fog embraces the forest on both sides of the saddle.100m below the saddle is the Kareri Lake at 2950m which collect meltwater from the snow covered Dhauladhar ridge above. There is a temple near the lake, a few tent camps and dhabas. The lake appears frequented by hikers who climb up from Kareri village. After a cup of chai we resume our 1100m descend to Kareri 1800m at 5:30pm. We follow a nice rock path and pass regular shops and camps along the way. Several hiking groups are still climbing up in the evening. Further down the valley a smaller trail splits left from the main path and contours left around the ridge into the plains.As we turn around the ridge the sunset is lighting up the snow covered Dhauladhar range above in orange. After another 12 hour day with some 2500m elevation gain we look for a nutritious dinner to refill our burned calories in Kareri.