The greatest take away from the journey was that not all stories are going to end the way you want, that there are things in life that you cannot control—and that’s okay.
This was the last trek of the year. Simply put, it took us time to finalise on Kareri Lake trek. Since while surfing the interwebs and planning the hows and whens, I came across this. We came to know that Kareri lake route is notorious for leopard and bear sightings. However since no other weekend trek was left to cover, we decide to take a risk and finalised on Kareri lake. And Glad we did it.
Kareri lake trek starts from Kareri Village. Regular buses ply from Dharamshala to Ghera. From Ghera one needs a Taxi to Kareri village.
We Boarded our buses from Delhi to Dharamshala at 10.30 pm on Friday. In the bus, the whole itinerary was planned and considering the timings it was known that covering 13 km on mountains would be a tough affair. With our bags full of positivity, we landed in Dharamshala at 8.30 am. It was mandatory to reach Kareri as soon as possible to complete the trek before the sunset. We rushed to find a Taxi and started out journey to Kareri village. In between, we stuffed our bags with the necessary supplies for the dinner. The taxi driver was, however, a very clever guy. He dropped us a few kilometers before Kareri village. And this was how the trek started with empty stomachs.
Starting the Trek
The route from Kareri village is fairly simple. There is a PWD guest house in the village and the trail begins from there. The trail leads to a well-built road. The real climb starts from after a casual three km walk from the road. We booked a room to freshen up at a meagre cost of 200 rupees. After that we ate something and started the trek at around 11 am.
It starts here
The Dense Part
After the first three kilometres, the trail starts on the right from the bridge. The path is zig-zag but is well defined. The forest is beautiful and one can hear the calm sound of the brook nearby. On this initial path, there were a lot of monkeys. So we were careful with them. We crossed the brook and a steep climb started from here into the forest. This forest was unusually filled with big boulders and tall trees. There were a few red Rhododendrons along the trail. After odd kilometers, the forest opened into a beautiful valley filled with rocks and the wind. The sound of water gushing beneath the rocks and wind above it made the atmosphere more mesmerising.
Water making Its Way
Here we added one more layer of warm clothes and started again on the trail. It was 3 pm now and we still didn’t have a clue about how much of the forest have we covered. Just then we met a local guy with the typical Himachali cap and a wide smile. He told us that we will be halfway once we reach a bridge nearby. He also told us that he had lost his 8 sheep in the nearby area. It was 4.30 pm and it was very unlikely to be able to reach the lake before sunset. After some time we found the first trekker behind us with a local guy. It felt great to have a company.
The local guy told us to avoid trekking in the night as it would not be safe. Abiding by the rules of the Jungle we pitched our tents near an abandoned hut beside the river. The local guy build the fire in a blink and meanwhile we finished our frugal dinner and went to the tents.
Plants on the way
Out Hut in morning
It was about 7 pm and the valley was pitch dark. The sound of the water and wild animals echoed in the valley. The longest sleepless night was about to start. After the funny and serious talks, the stories started to settle, the echoes and contemplations of the wildlings in the valley took over the talks. It was then when we heard someone scratching the tent from the outside. I looked at my watch it was 10.43 pm. At first, we ignored the sound. Then again we heard it and this time it was more clearer. Friends from another tent also anticipated that something from outside is scratching the tents. This went on for half an hour until one of us went outside to inspect. After few minutes it was known our wild bear was nothing but a string rubbing against the tent due to wind. We laughed at ourself and went again to sleep.
Crossing The Bridge
Boulders in the forest
After an hour, I was again awake due to strong sound. It seemed like a gunshot. Again after 2 minutes, there were two more. The whole valley echoed and everyone was now awake in their respective tents. This time it was serious, we were able to hear some drunk people making strange noises. No one had the courage to see what actually is the matter. So we decided to stay calm and stay low. After hours the voices stopped. And just when I found myself in sleep. It started raining heavily outside. The winds were so loud that it felt like a blizzard. From 5 am to 7 am the valley calmed down and meanwhile we swiftly stole some sleep.
Outside the Tent
Surprise Surprise !
An infuriating mystery turned into a beautiful enigma as we opened the tents on the Christmas morning. The whole Valley was covered in while and snow was still falling from the sky. Our tents and the huts were covered with bright fresh snow. After a while, the snowfall became more intense, vivid and heavenly. We packed our tents, bags and had tea made by the local guy. He was literally a boon to us at this time.
The Last Leg
We stared the last leg of the trail. Carefully Avoiding slipping on the fresh ice, we reached Kareri Lake in less than half an hour. The view from here was undoubtedly the best view I had seen in my weekend treks. The Minkaini Pass and Baleni pass were visible before us. The Lake was frozen and was covered in snow from three sides. We then visited the Temple at the lake. We ate hot aloo-poories alongside the lake, thanks to the fire skills of the locals.
We didn’t want but we had to come back as 13 km of downhill descent was left. Steadily we made our way back to Kareri Village. We were astonished and amused on how we were able to make the ascent the previous day. Back at Ghera, we missed our bus to Dharamshala. At Dharamshala, we ate like crazy as always.
The Mandatory Snowman
Sunset At Dharamshala
After a tiring and sleepless trip in the bus reached office a bit late on Monday. 3 rounds of black coffee did the job. 5 days after the trek my calf muscles still remind me of the mountain.
Kareri Trek Vlog
Looking forward to bigger challenges in 2017.