Saturday, October 21, 2006

There and back again (big update, be patient)

Hey all my faithful blog watchers. Thanks again for tuning in over the past few weeks. I have to say I'm always a bit surprised to see many of you coming back for more. To show my appreciation to my blogwatchers, you are hereby rewarded with a larger than usual blog -- hope you enjoy.

The trek was very nice. 'Twas a beautiful and special land we tramped through. But we never made it over the pass. We had to turn back just a kilometer or two shy when Andrew, the British contingent of our trek, could not continue as he suffered a bad bout of food poisoning. But we've all arrived back with all limbs intact, whole and healthy.

Before the trek, we met a swiss couple whom we hung out with for a bit while trying to decide on a trek. After a few days in Manali, we finally decided to do the Hamta pass trek. But the day we were to leave it rained all day in Manali. Rain in Manali almost certainly means snow on the Hamta pass. We nearly didn't do any trek at all on account of this bad weather. But with some persisent cajoling on my part, the other two agreed. The tent we have is a three season tent (really a summer tent) and if it wasn't for the tarp we bought, we would not have been happy campers.

Bad weather moves in quickly and suddenly.
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gin rummy, poker, chess and tea keep us busy when it rains in Manali

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Vanessa tries to keep warm

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A caterpillar on the walkway to Manali.

Monkeys are not an uncommon encounter on the way to Manali.
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Ronen and I go up to Varshist for a day before we embark on the trek. Varshist is a very homey little village nestled in the hillside 3km from Manali. There are hotsprings where people wash their clothes and bodies. We didn't take a dip tho. Chess over lunch with a view of the village instead.
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HAMPTA PASS TREK
Okay, now onto the trek. Andrew is quite the chef and spearheaded our meals. Ronen wasn't too shabby himself and between the two of them we had two gormet meals a day. The first would be oatmeal with apples and raisins caramilzed in sugar and oil with cut up cashews or almonds topped off with some reconstituted milk. Lunch was usually a small snack of bread or nuts and dinner was pasta or rice with a "blinding" sauce. One night Andrew even bothered to make a rue, a cream sauced based on oil and flour with milk and cheese and spices. It was the dogs' bollucks. No photos of the food, though, sorry.

We started trekking up the mountain following a switchbacking road. We hired a horseman and two horses to haul all our food and baggage. I wanted to be a man about the trek and carry my pack, but I was outvoted by my peers who wanted to approach the trek with a bit more shanti attitude than I. My pack was needed on the horse to keep the weight balanced. You can see the horses on the right.
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It's not long before we are hiking through a construction site. This has to be the highlight of the trek for all.
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Finally we cut into the forest off the road and are suddenly plunged into the wild. We make use of a broken bridge to cross the river. The horses fjord the river.
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Mama sheep and her baby - I have a funny video of the poor sheep falling a little way down the side of the mountain. Poor thing- was funny tho. Dunno if the little bugger was alright, tho.
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Two eagles swoop in close and low to the mountainside and I found a large feather which I offered for Ronen's cap.
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Some cool dude in green.
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Camp, second night. We used the rock for shelter but I had come so prepared for cold weather I preferred to sleep with the shooting stars above me than in the protection of the tent.
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Approaching the pass
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Two horses scratch each other.
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A ferret!
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An inhospitable landscape. You can barely make out the horses in the second photo.
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One or two kilometers from the pass, we have to give up on our lofty goal and turn back. I appeared to be the only one really disappointed by this. Andrew is given protection from the pelting sleet by Ronen.
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Caught in bad weather again.
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We returned to the second camp again. Setting up camp in the rain does not rank as one of the funnest things in the world. I was always happy when the rain turned to snow, which it did often. It rained and snowed alot the second two days of the trek. A second attempt on the pass the next day is not possible as the horses do not have enough food. The continuous bad weather would have made it very challenging to reattampt anyway.

On the last night of camp it rains again and we setup in the rain once again. A couple hundred meters up it's snow instead of rain.

A fresh sprinkling of snow on the mountains.
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Our horseman Krishna cooks up some nice jipatis directly in the coals of the fire. Jipatis are a flatbread the same size of a pita pocket but without the pocket, made from flour and water (and sometimes a bit of oil).
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We came across a czech troop attempting the pass without the aid of porters or horses. Another porter we came across the next day was going up the mountain to warn another group not to attempt the pass as it was no longer possible with all the rain/snow.
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A wet and muddy return.
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You know the nearer your destination the more you're slip sliding away (we slid down the mountain as much as we trekked down it) here I'm "skiing" down the muddy slope. I fell a few times, once nearly to a disastrous end but managed to get my footing again at the last second.
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Pixagogo direct photo link for the visit to a week in my life. Hope you enjoyed it!

3 comments:

Daniel Schmolze said...

Looks wicked fun, man. Too bad you couldn't get to the top. Is Varanasi next?

Sharon said...

Loved it! Thank you so much. Jake. Fantastic reportage. It's all so interesting! Now go see Nori.

Anonymous said...

Again Root, your the man, and you made it through with out much insident. Phew, no bandits! Anyways love you and can't wait to see what is next. Illona