Ten more steps and then rest till the count of five. Ten more steps and rest till the count of five. This played in repeat in my mind, and my body followed. I had already climbed one mountain and two more to go. I can do this.
What’s at the other end? Enormous sheet of snow, pure glacier water and tears of joy! Quite literally (not mine though!)
I was up quite early in the morning, almost around 2:30 am. We were suppose to climb 2500 feet today. It was damn cold outside but over my period of trekking for past three months I had accepted that delaying won’t help. Not that I got any better in bearing cold but it’s just I accepted that it is going to be this much cold. I stepped outside to do my morning chores. The light of other tents were still off. I folded my sleeping bag, packed my rug sack, brushed my teeth. Every time on treks, I give one day off to my face wash routine and that is the pass crossing day because I just can’t dab that cold water at 2:30 am on my face when outside temperature is in minus!
I could see a dark figure lunging over the tent of our assistant trek lead. He was one of my batch mate asking for some medicine. Good, at least someone was up. I was all ready, and people had just started to wake up. So I lingered back to some huge boulders, where my figure got dissolved in the black of the dark and no one could see me. I found myself a spot and sat, staring at giant mountains that we had to climb in some time. The mountains had already set their expectations aright. They were erected straight like the giant beast, those steep gradient.
I looked around the wobbling headlights, heading to and fro from their tents to washroom tents. Some of them heading towards the kitchen tent so as to score a glass of hot water. These friends of mine were strangers just five days back and these five days brought us a lot closer to each other. Watching their silhouettes in the early morning faint light took me back to the day when we started this trek.
It was raining quite heavily on the morning of June 23th, 2018, when we started the trek from kafnu village of Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. The inhibition of talking with each other was still there, we were all new faces for each other. Everyone was busy setting their rain ponchos. As we started walking the rain reduced to mild tipper tapper. And with the onset of day, the fog dispersed a bit to give way to the green valleys of Kinnaur. The streams were all swelled up and the mountains were decorated with lot of waterfalls, over which the fog lingered on like candy floss.
We crossed various meadows and one of them was ‘Shitli’. I remember this one in particular because it was named after the properties of the water. It was believed that the water at Shitli is extremely rich in minerals that it carries from the glacier top down to the grounds.
Soon we entered Pushtirang, our first camp site. Pushtirang welcomed us with its grandeur open valley right in middle of which the stream was flowing swiftly. I could barely believe what I was seeing. I haven’t seen first camp site of any trek to be this beautiful. The moss covered green mountains, whose top were loaded with a bulk of snow glacier as if it will fall any time and the mountains were beautifully decorated with the sparse fog.
I just couldn’t get myself inside the tent till late night. It was there by the stream that I bonded with new friends, long talks amidst the surrounding fog, just like a dream.
Next morning we started our walk towards our next camp site Kara. Pushtirang had already raised the bar of this trek and I was pretty excited to see what Kara would be like. We gained some 1500 feet of altitude today, negotiated some steep climbs, some flat walks and saw lot of wild beautiful flowers. We reached Kara by late afternoon. Kara was another marvel in itself. A pink floral carpet against the backdrop of green mountains was a pure bliss photo shoot site. The serving of hot lentils and rice in such perfect place was all we needed. Our camp were pitched right next to Kara lake, the lake besides which we had rounds of never-have-I-ever game, just that we sipped water instead. We sat there in the pitch darkness and eerie silence until a thick blanket of fog covered everything and forced us to retire back to our tents.
Third day we started from Kara to Mulling. Today was bit tricky because it was raining since the start and then there were just too many stream crossings. The whole mass of land was dissected with numerous streams that we had to cross barefoot. Well, the temperature was quite low and the water was chill as ice. We made it to Mulling by afternoon and soon after we went for a short acclimatization walk. We climb past the monsoon water fall and got the bird eye view of the valley. Our tents were looking like the tiny dots of yellow. Pushtirang is the only camp site which is located at the river delta and that means abundant beautiful flowers. I went to take a short stroll towards river side at evening and was left mesmerized by the daunting yellow flowers.
We called it an early night that day since the summit day was suppose to start quite early in the morning. I got up at 2:30 am and started getting ready for the summit. What laid ahead was 2500 feet of straight climb. People were already having inhibitions about the day, because we could see, it was deadly but there was no going back now. We started our climb by 5:30 in the morning. Luckily though it was cloudy but it was not raining. After 4 hours of sheer climbing, where we were forced to stop after every five steps to catch our breath we saw the fluttering prayer flags. Finally, we reached the pass at 16,125 feet.
There was Bhaba valley to our left and Pin valley to our right side. And both were standing in sheer contrast. Where Bhaba was lush green, the Pin was barren trans Himalayan region. Where Bhaba side was deprived of any snow, the Pin side was laden with the thick sheets of snow over which we enjoyed our snow slides. Soon we crossed the glacier, the snow bridges and left the Bhaba valley behind us and entered the barren Pin Valley. When we reached our last camp site, Mangrungse, we all had the feeling of accomplishment and a sigh of relief. We all had finally crossed the Pin Bhaba Pass.
Our next day was a long walk under screeching hot Sun, amidst the barren lands of Spiti. Everyone was excited to see what Mud would be like and I was nostalgic on seeing the parallel running the track. Pin Parvati Pass also ends in Mud. Where we descending down from Bhaba, just the parallel track leads to Pin Paravati and a year back I walked on the same track with different set of people, with the same exhilarating feeling of accomplishment and had made it to Mud. Mud hold the same charm that it had a year before. The same cafes, small houses and the friendly smiles.
We were back into civilization and that marked the end of our trek.
Pin Bhaba holds a special place in my heart when it comes to my trekking career. Not only because it was very beautiful, but because a new friendship was flourished, unknown became a dear pal and the long night gossips, the dreams we shared under twinkling stars and how not to mention, the crazy night at Mud where we saw zillion stars lying right in the middle of road. That’s the charm of trek, you meet like minded people who share the same zeal of travel, of seeing the distant world, of living the life to the fullest.
Check below the video of Pin Bhaba Pass: