Indrahaar Pass Trek: A Walk through the clouds

September 8, 2015

The rain had stopped and the darkened clouds were still prowling in the sky swallowing the mountain peaks with their mist.The monsoon was at its peak and the lush green earth was looking like a newly wed bride brimming with her youthfulness.The earth had laid a green carpet to seduce the ravishing monsoon.The sun was jostling through the clouds to tease the monsoon.Unperturbed by the sun,the monsoon and the earth were playing the game of seduction displaying their intense shades of intimacy.The monsoon had made the earth come alive.It was raining the long and view of the Dhauladhar range of mountains in the monsoon was simply breathtaking.Sitting on the Triund view caffe i was waiting for the weather to clear before i could start my trek to the Indrahaar pass and the Moon peak.

Waiting at the Sunil's tea shop to commence the trek

Waiting at the Sunil’s tea shop to commence the trek

In the summer and the spring hikers crowd the trails to Indrahhar Pass but in Monsoon the trail becomes dangerous for trekking.During the monsoon the Dhauladhar range of mountains become very risky for trekking due to its bouldered  & landslide prone trails.The fear of cloudbursts in these part of the mountains are also pretty high.But it is in the monsoons the Dhauladhar range of mountains looks absolutely beautiful.So I wanted to do the Indrahaar Pass trek solo to enjoy the the spectacular view of the mountains in the monsoon.I was camping in the Triund hill top to trek the Indrahaar pass and the Moon peak.I didnt have a guide so i relied on the knowledge of the locals.I talked to all the cafe owners (there are four cafes) and the support staffs for their suggestions and guidance on the routes,the camping sites and the dos and donts.They advised me not to venture into the mountains without a guide especially in the monsoon.They even gave the terrifying tales of how two French hikers went missing in the trails without a trace.In the mountains it is always advisable to heed to the advice of the locals.The rebel in me surrendered and i hired a guide for my trek.

It was 3.30pm and the weather looked favourable for  the climb uphill.The hiking trail to Indrahaar pass is Triund-Snowline cafe-Laka Galcier-Lohesh Cave-Indrahaar pass summit.Me and my guide Pravin started trekking from triund camping site to the snowline cafe.It was a climb through narrow and slippery trails in the dense forest with deep fall in one side.The frightening edge of the trail was looking scary and a fall or slip there would take one to the jaws of death.We walked with caution through the meandering trails in that lush green forests.There was no one in the trails and our conversation was piercing through the shroud of cryptic silence that had engulfed the mountains.After one and half hours of climb, a small makeshift structure wrapped in the plastic sheet was visisble from a distance.The guide pointed out that it was the snowline cafe.That was the last point where one can get supplies and stuffs for the trek.

The Snowline Cafe enroute to Indrahaar pass

The Snowline Cafe enroute to Indrahaar pass

It was time for a break and we settled into the wooden benches of the snowline cafe.It was 5 pm by then and the night was slowly making its way into the mountains.My guide suggested to camp at the snowline cafe for that night.In the snowline cafe,i met Pavel,Prithvi and Sumit.They were chilling out enjoying the spectacular view of the mountains.Prithvi and Sumit were from Delhi and were camping there for a night and they would be back to Mcleodganj.Pavel was a backpacker from Czech Republic and was on a backpacking trip to India.As we settled down in that tiny cafe,we shared our travel stories and our adventures.I was the only one to hike  further to the Lohesh cave in that evening but i convinced Prithvi and Sumit to join me in the hike.The light was fading fast in that foggy afternoon and around 6 pm we started hiking towards the Lohesh cave.

A break on the trail in the night

A break on the trail in the night

As the night fell on the mountains,the stars emerged from the sky with their faint lights.Nothing was visible beyond the distance of an arm’s length.The hissing sound of the wind and the gushing sound of the streams filled the void in the air.There were no lights and it was darkness all around the eyes could see.I was feeling as if we were aliens walking into a different planet altogether.We had headlamps and torches to wade through the darkness.That section of the trail was a technical one full of boulders and it was so difficult to walk in the darknight. The light from the snowline cafe in the back was looking like a star on the sky. Pravin was walking at the front and we were following his steps.We took rest after walking for two hours.An aeroplane passed above us blinking its red light and it was such joy to spot that moving light in the middle of the mountains.After having the energy drinks we resumed the walk.It was then a climb uphill and within half an hour we reached the Laka glacier.It was a steep glacier and we had to cross to the other side to climb up the mountain to reach the cave. Manouevring a glacier without crampoons in the dark is a difficul task.The slope of the glacier was such that it would be difficult to arrest a fall.We walked through the glacier slowly taking one step at a time by holding each other.

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That ethereal feeling in the Indrahaar Pass summit

Then came the most difficult part of the trek.We were climbing the steep face of the mounatin from the base of the glacier.The mountain face was full of waist high bushes due to the monsoon and there was no trace of the trail.The guide was walking guessing the trail.I knew by that time that the guide had lost the trail and he was simply guessing the way in the dark.We were so worried as it was 9pm by then and we were still climbing the steep face.I confronted the guide asking to tell us the truth whether he was on the right trail.As he started fumbling,we knew we were in a big trouble.We were standing on the steep face of the mountain in the dark without knowing the trail to the caves.From that point it would be so difficult to descend that steep face in the dark.The only option was to go up.The snowline cafe was way back on the trail so going back was out of option.Then he went forward to look for the trail and told us to stand there.We were thinking what if he didnt find the trail.We had all the camping gears but we could not camp on the edge of the mountain.We needed to find out a camping spot first.After half an hour the guide came back smiling.From there we hiked to the cave.It was a beautiful cave and space within the camp is approx 4 ft high.We had to crawl to enter the cave.We had dinner in a rock platform outside the cave under the million stars in the sky.It was a long day and after fixing our tents in the cave we had gone for the sleep.

Camping inside the Lohesh cave

Camping inside the Lohesh cave

I woke up early in the morning to attempt the Indrahaar Pass summit.Prtithvi and Sumit were to descend to Mcleodganj.It was great to meet the two adventurers on the trail and i enjoyed their company.Bidding them adieu on that cold morning i started my hike to the summit.The weather was fine and we climbed the height with ease till the sun came crashing on us.The last thousand feet to the summit was a taxing steep climb.We were climbing at my pace (i was the slower between us).There were only two hikers ahead of us looking like tiny dots moving on the dge of the mountain.After three hours we reached the Indrahaar Pass summit.It was a spectacular view of the mountain from the summit.We sat on the summit for half an hour.The clouds were passing through us from one side of the mountain to the other.The moon peak was standing tall next to the Indrahaar pass summit overlooking the plains of Chamba on the other side.

The freedom above the clouds

The freedom above the clouds

The sky was crystal clear for a brief window.The clouds were moving towards us like a pool of white waves rushing to engulf us in their mystical mist.We started to descend With an altitude gain of ~3600 ft from the Lohesh cave to the top,I was tired to the bone.But the stunning view atop the mountain pass was worth the steep hike. The view of the entire Dhauladhar range of mountains from the Indrahaar Pass was simply breathtaking.I was to climb the Moon peak which is 1.5 km from the pass but it usually takes 2.5 hrs to reach the peak. The peak was totally covered in thick blanket of clouds and the trails were not visible at all. The mist was closing in and the visibility was slowly taking a hit and we took a call to descend before it gets too risky.My steps were becoming slower.As it already started drizzling we increased our pace to avoid getting caught in the mist and the rain.We reached the snowline cafe at 4pm.We had hot maggie there and taking a power nap there we were back on the trail.

And the Indrahaar Pass trek was a success

And the Indrahaar Pass trek was a success

By the time I reached the Triund hill top,the cloud had engulfed the mountains and rain had started playing its music.That night there was no other tent in the camping site except mine.As the clock moved in the night,the rain lashed into the mountain.Enjoying the sound of the pattering raindrops on the tents in that lonely night i went to sleep with a broad smile.

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