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Thanks to yesterday’s steep and rocky descents and the bone-chilling winds, my sprained knee had gone from bad to worse by morning. Ruchi’s was just slightly better. I was not able to join the morning-exercise session and restricted myself to doing flexion which did help but the relief was little more than temporary. The fact that it was all down-hill today, save for a few small ascents, should have made me happy after a full day of steep ascent the previous day but with the knees in bad shape, the entire situation was upside down. After-all, it is way more difficult to climb down than to walk up if your knee is not in good shape.
Hampta Pass Trekking – To Chattru Camp
Okay! Before I move any further let me go back to yesterday (Hampta Pass Trekking) for a moment. Remember, I talked about the steep decent yesterday which took way longer than expected to complete and where we were stuck in a hail storm? Well, the mountain you see right behind us in the photo above, the one in the center, that was the one we were walking down from. From the top of that mountain. And I would be very honest about here and accept it that, when we were finally at the base of the mountain and I looked back up, the feeling was of disbelief! Neither I nor Ruchi was ready to believe that we had actually walked down this mountain which looked huge from hundreds of feet below.
Okay! Coming back to today, I started limping forward somehow at the end of the group and with Kama with me. But this limp came to an abrupt halt in less than a couple of hundred meters when I found myself unable to negotiate the smallest alleys between the rocks scattered rocks on both sides of the trail. Ruchi’s knee was not as bad as mine so she was trudging ahead of me. Her walking pole seemed to be of great help for her. I realized how helpful a walking stick could be only when Kama handed me the branch he had picked up somewhere yesterday. This made a great difference and I was now moving ahead much more comfortably. I guess I should have bought another trekking pole in Manali for myself as well.
As we moved ahead, the colors around us started to change. The closer we moved towards the Spiti valley the more arid the landscape became. Dry and devoid of any vegetation. Spiti being in what is called the rain-shadow area receives very less rainfall just like Ladakh. It is due to this lack of rain, there is hardly any greenery here and the terrain is dry and gray in color.
Hampta Pass Chandratal Trek
Soon after the last big descent, we were walking on almost flat terrain. This was a good thing for someone like me who was having trouble walking. It would not be wrong if I say I was literally sprinting with the help of my walking stick on the flats now. The only downside however with the wooden stick was its rough surface. Unlike the proper walking pole which Ruchi was using, this was rough and caused multiple bruises on my hands. In this relatively flat terrain, there were some tricky patches where we kind of had to be one with the boulders and squeeze ourselves from between the side of the boulders on one side and the forty feet drop to the roaring Chandra river below on the other.
It was the fourth day without any non-veg and I for one was feeling starved. So, on our way down we talked to a couple of shepherds about any possibility of them selling one of their sheep or goats to us but we had no luck. Not to forget that every night we were having fantastic vegetarian food but to a hardcore non-vegetarian like me, any food which is not non-veg is well, the same. With each step towards Chattru, we had been losing altitude and though I would not say that it was warm but it was definitely not as cold as it was a few hours back, up in the mountains.
The plan today was to reach Chattru campsite by 1 PM, have Maggi after freshening-up and then head to Chandertaal, a three hour’s drive. We made it to the camp by 1.30 PM which was something I had not expected I would be able to do with my sore knee but I made it!
Out of the many things that were significantly different from what they were just a few hours back, one stark contrast that stuck me was the color of the water of the Chandra river flowing below. Up in the mountains, even the smallest of water-streams had crystal clear water flowing through them whereas the water in the river below looked totally opposite. It was completely muddy in color, clearly unfit for drinking. Thankfully there were fresh-water streams here as well and the doubts about the river-water being used for cooking and drinking here that I was having in my mind were negated. Soon after, we left our stuff behind in our tents had bowls of piping hot Maggi to our heart’s content and then, started for the moon lake, Chandertaal.
Have you ever been to Spiti? What would you like to go on a Himalayan trek? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.
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