Himalayan Trek

Date: 24/06/2007 | Author: Gabby

One of the things we have discussed with the girls since the start of this trip is trekking in the Himalayas with a donkey. We had wanted to trek in Nepal or Tibet, but either the season wasn't right or we haven't had the time. Manali is one of the best places in northern India to base yourself for short treks so it was here we booked one for 2 nights. True to our word we booked a donkey, so if Ella or Florence got tired they could ride rather than walk.
A short drive from Manali to the Solang Valley took us to the start of our Beas Kund trek (the lake that is the source of the Beas river). Our walk was taking us to altitudes close to 4000m - altitude sickness can be a problem at these heights so I was hoping we'd all be OK. We were met by 3 porters as well as our guide, Shalu, his assitant, Arun and a rather ropey looking horse, Sheeru.
Of course the girls wanted to ride Sheeru straight away but we decided he should carry their bags and they should walk, at least for a bit. The valley was amazing with enormous snow clad peaks and hanging glaciers in the distance. We stopped en route at a Nomads camp. The girls shared their packed lunches with the kids there and we were all given up cup of warm buffalo milk, rich with nutrients. Even with a huge dollop of honey it tasted disgusting.
At this point the girls jumped on to Sheeru - no helmets, no safety talk - but this is India. The horse might have looked ropey but he was like a ballerina negotiating the rocky terrain and went so quickly that Dave and I had to speed along behind him to keep up. After about 10 minutes we were knackered & breathless - the thin air taking it's toll on our lungs. The girls were energetic, giggly and thoroughly enjoying their mountain ride.
After about 3 hours of walking, we eventually arrived at our campsite, Baker Thach (place for shepherds), about 10 minutes behind our guides and porters. The tents were already up and a pot of water boiling ready for chai. We enjoy camping a lot at home, but I really really like this sort of camping! It was an amazing place to spend 2 nights with streams, rocks, caves and soaring mountains surrounding us. Once the camp was completely assembled, 2 of the porters and horse, Sheeru, headed back to base camp to leave us in the elements, with Shalu, Arun and one porter, Rajul. While Bracey family explored the area, read, drank hot chocolate or dozed in our tents, Shalu cooked soup and made dinner, Arun did all the washing up and Rajul collected huge bundles of firewood. I really love this sort of camping! Dave and I loved the food - the girls only liked the chapattis and that was pretty much all they ate for 3 days. We were all exhausted by 8.30 and, dragging ourselves away from a roaring fire, all bundled in one tent rather than the 2 we had been given - it was freezing so we wanted all the warmth we could get!
We all had a blissful night's sleep (apart from Dave's dog incident......) and woke up early for the walk to Beas Kund. There were a few other groups walking in the valley - the mountain border patrol amongst them. At times our site felt like a mountain chai stall, but it was great playing host to the other trekkers. We walked over the Beas pass to Beas kund, a sacred lake for hindis, stopping to take in our surroundings and eat our packed lunch. After the exhausting walk back we all dozed, read, drank hot chocolate etc while Shalu etc cooked dinner etc...........great camping!
By 8.30 on our final day, the horseman arrived with a new horse, a not as ropey looking, Neelu. It was a much quicker walk back and. of course, the girls argued for a lot of the way about whose turn it was to go on the horse and who had been riding the longest. They didn't want to share on the way back down because it was far too uncomfortable on the way up.
It was an amazing 3 days - one of the highlights of the past 7 months for me - for all of us I think. I can't quite believe that in 3 weeks time we are going to be at home camping in a field in Norfolk........

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