Rupin Pass – an epiphanous journey
There is something inexplicably romantic about trekking the mountains of the Uttarakhand Himalayas – Rupin Pass is no exception. Trails through alpine forests, walking through the meadows with the snow clad peaks playing hide and seek with us, and crossing a pass – all are so impressive and fascinating. After completing the Roopkund Trek, Rupin Pass was on our bucket list and finally this May, our wish to do the trek was fulfilled. Incidentally, this Rupin Pass trek would be our first trek where we would be crossing over a pass, so the enthusiasm was also a bit higher this time.
Day 1: Dehradun – Dhaula
We started from Dehradun on the 24thMay, 2016 towards Dhaula, the base camp for the trek. At Dehradun, we first met our trek mates. There were 20 of us. Though the first meeting was with a little trepidation in our heart, but as the days went by, all of us became a great team and even greater friends!
After a long bumpy ride, we reached Dhaula. Dhaula is a quaint place with a canopy of large trees all around. Our tents were put up beside the clear Rupin river. The rest of the day was spent getting acquainted with our trek leader and the rest of the team. We had members mostly from Chennai and Bangalore and others from Pune, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Surat and we from Kolkata.
Day 2: Dhaula – Sewa
In the next morning, we gathered together all freshened up and were ready for the start of the trek. Our next camp was at Sewa, an 11 km trail from Dhaula. We started our hike towards Sewa.
The first day of a trek is always taxing. Hardly we covered some distance that most of us were panting. Nevertheless, soon we gained a rhythm and walked without much problem. We reached Sewa by noon and was greeted there with hot lunch. At Sewa, we stayed at a homestay. Sewa is a small sleepy hamlet and the most important structure of the village seemed to a temple. The temple was an excellent example of the Kinnauri architecture. The temple was locked at that time. On asking the villagers they said that the idol was common to the 12 surrounding villages and the idol moves to each village each month. Well, that was something unique we heard!
Day 3: Sewa – Jiskun
The next day, we started from Sewa towards Jiskun. First, there was a downhill trek that reaches to the Rupin river. Here we silently cross over from Uttarakhand to Himachal Pradesh through a small wooden bridge over the gushing Rupin River.
This is one of the high points of the day. Next, we followed an uphill trail to Gosangu. This is where the difficult part comes. It is a road head and we had to trek about 6 km in the dusty road. We often saw vehicles move past us! After panting for a few hours on the dusty road, we finally reached the village. It was then another uphill trail to the Jiskun village. But once we reached Jiskun, our tiredness vanished seeing the village and our homestay. It was a beautiful homestay made of stone and wood that welcomed us.
Day 4: Jiskun – Jhaka – Udaknal
The next morning, our hike again started though an uphill trail towards Jhaka village. Jhaka is the last village on our trail towards Rupin pass. While climbing uphill, we met with many school children who greeted us with a lovely “Namaste”. Jhaka is also called the hanging village, the village seems to hang on over a cliff. From Jhaka, it was again a trail through the forests to Udaknal, our next campsite. It was a beautiful campsite overlooking the cliff.
Day 5: Udaknal – Dhanderas Thatch
The next day’s trail was quite different from the previous days.We followed the trail taken by the shepherds. We also met a couple of shepherds with their herds of sheep. There were numerous sheep and I kept wondering how do they manage to keep track of their sheep! At one point I felt that they are the Santiago from “The Alchemist” looking for new ways and newer things.
That day we also hit the snow for the first time. We had to cross the snow bridge. After trekking for a few hours we reached a place called Buras Kandi.
This is the place where treeline ends. Here we walked amidst rhododendron trees and finally reached a river bed which was our resting point.
A few metres ahead this place, we could see the Rupin waterfall for the first time. It was definitely a sight to behold. We could actually feel the adventure that was in store for us. We were to climb over the waterfall! After a trek for a few more hours, we arrived at Dhanderas Thatch, our campsite for the day. Dhanderas Thatch is the only place in this trek route where you will find meadows. With the Rupin waterfall just in sight, the whole place breathtakingly beautiful. Also, the two sides were flanked by snowy valleys which had numerous waterfalls. We could see almost 12 waterfalls at our sides. There could not have been a better campsite than this.
Day 6: Dhanderas Thatch – Upper waterfall camp
The next day’s trek was comparatively shorter as we moved from Dhanderas Thatch to the Upper waterfall camp. An uphill trek where we had to climb atop the waterfall. After the climb through a few snow bridges, we reached our campsite which was beside the Rupin river. We were totally at a loss for words seeing this campsite.
We thought the camp at Dhanderas Thatch was the most beautiful, but this camp had me completely speechless. Camps beside the Rupinriver, with the Dhauladhar range in front of you. And if you walk towards the top of the waterfall, you could simply see the water gushing down and also the previous day’s campsite. It was at this place that I completely fell in love with Rupin. The place made all my tiredness disappear and I simply wanted to soak in all the beauty of nature.
Day 7: Upper waterfall Camp- Rata Pheri – Rupin Pass – Ronti Gad
The final day or the summit day started a little early. We trekked uphill until we hit the snowline at Rata Pheri camp. Here we were asked to put on our micro spikes. At this point, the meadows that were our friends for these days were lost in sight and we are amidst the vast snowfields. It was white everywhere and we get the first glimpse of the Rupin Pass – a tiny ridge on the Dhauladar Range.
That we have to climb all these distance does not register then – the task seems daunting. But slowly we walked over the undulating snowfields. In the meanwhile, the weather started changing for the worse – it started snowing. I sais a silent prayer – I did not want to go back from here. Our Team Leader Mayank was energetic and kept us motivated throughout. After trekking in snowfall, we reached the base of the Rupin Pass Gully. It was another steep climb of about 200 metres. The guides went before and made steps for us and after an arduous climb, we were finally there at the Rupin Pass.
Each and every member of the team was ecstatic and that could be seen on their faces. After all these days of trekking and hardships, we were finally at the top of Rupin Pass – at the top of the world.
The Kinnaur-Kailash range could be seen clearly from the top. And it seemed Mother Nature too conspired that we complete the trek without much difficulty.
The weather cleared as we reached the Rupin pass. After spending some time at the pass, it was the time to climb down. And what can be a better way than sliding down the snow while climbing down? The child in us was all too happy to come out. There were three slides, which we had to take while coming down all of us were gleefully sliding down in glory. It was a long day of the trek and we reached Ronti Gad campsite at about 3.00 PM. But this day, everybody forgot their tiredness and were all catching up with each other. After all, we have all done Rupin Pass! It was the day of celebration.
Day 8: Ronti Gad – Sangla
It was the last day of the trek- a totally downhill trek to Sangla. The trail followed meadows until we reached Sangla Kanda, a small village. From there the trail was through the village to reach Sangla. The downhill trek took a toll on our knees and legs. But once we were at Sangla, it was only revelry and celebration time for us.
The Rupin Pass was a wonderful trek. It had trails through the forests as well as roads. We had to cross snow bridges, climb the waterfall and walk through meadows. It thrilled and definitely brought out the best as well as the worst in us. We faced our fears and fought till the limit. And the best thing that Rupin gave us is a bunch of friends for ever.