Published in Hindustan Times
Himachal has been one of my favourite states for camping and trekking for a while. The fact that it offers easy accessibility from my hometown Chandigarh is definitely a plus, since almost all our trips begin from there. Let me add here that the whole rationale for us as a family to “head out” is to escape the crowds. Our preferred destination should have a height of at least 8,500-9000 feet. It was easy, therefore, to arrive at Sach Pass as the perfect destination.
On the first day from Chandigarh to Dalhousie, we encountered difficulty due to bad roads and an enormous traffic jam at Ludhiana. Fortunately after a short break to refuel and drink tea, the road to Dalhousie was rather empty. A pleasantly smooth car climb later, we were at the local cantonment, and were spending the night there courtesy Dad, a retired army officer. Our quarters were located on the cliff Purbani and offered us a panoramic view of the mountainous landscape.
The no road journey
After a good night’s rest, we proceeded toward Satrundi, our next halt. After descending to Chamba, we proceeded to cross the Ravi accompanied by a lovely view of the Chimera Dam. Shortly after Tisa, we had a tire burst. We crossed Bairagarh, proceeding without roads, network and or a spare tire. We soon saw a sign saying “Satrundi, 3 KM.” It began to rain, adding to our careful and laboured crossing of multiple free-flowing waterfalls. It should have served as a warning for what lay ahead. As we proceeded, we saw white water flowing across a stretch of 200 M. Dad, who is experienced in these matters, thought it would be fine to carry on, despite a large rock that was interrupting our path. In case he had miscalculated, we were looking at a 1000 foot fall. Dad went first and we followed, as our SUV was wider.
In no time we were setting up camp at Satrundi, with an altitude of 11,500 feet to look down to. We settled in for a perfectly cozy, early evening with a fire that was being set up.
A sun kissed morning
We woke up early next morning to catch the first light. It is always the most magical moment when one goes camping or trekking. As I proceeded to get waterfall from the nearest waterfall, I realised that I was displaying the initial symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). As soon as I got back with water, I consumed some medicine, replenishing my health within an hour. After a big breakfast of baked beans, sausages and eggs, we proceeded to Sach Pass, which was either 12 km or 2 hours away, depending on how you looked at it.
The climb was steep and narrow, with a wall of ice 20 feet high on either side, feeling like a river bed in pockets. We reached the pass after some arduous hair-pins. The view of both valleys from there was pristine, amazing and completely secluded. I would have loved to stay longer, but the AMS called for a quicker descent than ideal.