Please Note: As mentioned in this blog, this trek can be completed in just 2 days, but this is only recommended for experienced trekkers who are already well acclimatized or acclimatize fast and trek at a good pace. The trek starts at an altitude of 2500m and Bhrigu Lake is at an altitude of 4200m calling for an ascent of 1700m in a day and back to 1800m at Vashisht the next day, which can be demanding. Frequent white-outs occur in the area and there are chances of getting lost in low visibility conditions.
I was looking online for information on the trekking route to Bhrigu Lake for independent trekkers. Here’s what I found out: it is an easy straightforward trek, one of the trekking routes starts at Gulaba (mod 22) on the Manali - Rohtang highway. The trek passes through Raoli Kholi before we get a steep ascent to the lake and then descends via Pandu Ropa to Vashisht. A few indicative timings mentioned and a couple of pictures of the Bhrigu Lake.
Most of the sites seemed to have done a good copy-paste job of representing the above information in different ways. Now this doesn’t really help independent trekkers does it? Yes it is an easy trek and it can be trekked entirely on your own. Just think there was a need for more details on the route and trails to be followed to provide some more confidence for the do-it-yourself trekkers. So here goes first hand information on how to trek to Bhrigu and back by yourself...
Bus from Manali to Gulaba (mod 22) (1 hr) and trek to Bhrigu Lake through Raoli Kholi (6 hours)
I took the early morning bus from Manali which left the bus stand at 7:30 a.m. This bus had the long journey to Leh ahead of it and seemed to be in hurry whatsoever. It stopped at Kothi for breakfast hardly half an hour into the journey. Parathas are always an ideal breakfast for me before starting a trek and I enjoyed a couple of them before taking my seat in the bus again. ‘22 Mod’ or turn number 22 is where I had my ticket booked for. The conductor brought the bus to halt at this spot which is approx 7 kms ahead of the check-post at Gulaba. I adjusted the contents of my backpack one more time before slinging it on and heading straight for the trail across the road ascending up the mountain.
Easy the overall trek maybe but it is up, up and up; right from the word go till Raoli Kholi. The trek starts right across the road from where the bus drops you off near a worn down sign-board. The trail is well marked initially and climbs up steeply through grassy meadows. Keep heading up and avoid entering the cluster of trees on either side of the main trail. There are many side-trails that head into the forests on the sides of the slopes but these are shepherd trails and must be avoided. Make sure you have your fill of drinking water too, as the next stream where you can refill your bottles is at least 2 hours away.
Manali is at an altitude of 1800m and ‘mod 22’ is at 2500m. The bus ride does not give an indication of the altitudes at all. Only when you start climbing up do you realize that you are at a considerable elevation. I was trekking alone carrying my tent, sleeping bag, stove and ration for the 2 days ahead. The trek seemed anything but easy at the start :P I got into a steady pace soon though and the going got easy slowly. There are a few flat areas which can serve as camping sites too. But there seemed to be no source of drinking water available nearby. The only stream crossed was right along the highway before starting on the trail.
The trail disappears at times and grassy patches cover the slopes entirely. Keep climbing up steadily and you should be able to spot the narrow muddy trail from time to time. About an hour into the trail you will hike past a cluster of trees that provide the last covered resting point on the trail. You will head above the tree line now with nowhere to hide if the elements decided to play havoc. Yes there is some tree-cover available as you climb up, towards your right. But this is off the trekking trail and does not seem worth the time and effort to get there and back even if there was a heavy downpour.
People always keep telling me how lucky I am to be in the mountains all the time. Pointing to visible signs of their own body fat, they go on with tales of mild self-pity and how they wish they could complete a trek.
A basic level of fitness is required for all those heading outdoors. But for all those yet to begin their adventures, it’s not the climb-up-and-down-a- mountain-in-a-few-hours fitness that is required to complete your first trek.
Running is a test of fitness. Trekking is not. Everyone can trek.
Many will warn you that you shouldn’t be in the outdoors if you can’t move your own weight around and haul your belongings up the hill. Screw them. You can still trek. Take 8 hours to reach the campsite when others take 6. Carry only a pair of extra clothes for the entire trek to reduce the weight on your shoulders. Or simply hire a porter or put your backpack on a mule.
Point here is, be in the outdoors if you simply want to be in the outdoors. Make a start, however difficult it may seem at first. Don’t let your own perceived lack of fitness stop you. The only thing that can be a problem is your willpower. Your heart will pound heavily and seem to thump straight out of your chest at times. You will get there in the end though, if your heart truly desires the experience and your willpower is sky high.
No, we don’t mean don’t train hard or improve your fitness. The fitter you are the more enjoyable the trek will be. You won’t have to count every step that you’re taking and pause ever so often. Long slow walks are good for introspection and the oft repeated - ‘I am just a speck of dust inside a giant sky’ kind of feeling.
But fitness apart, you will still enjoy your campsite at the edge of the lake. You will cherish and remember the early morning views out of your tent long after the trek is over. But you will be less inclined to climb that stub of a hill to see the mist rising from the ridge beyond, to click those picture-perfect photographs the other trekkers seem to have, to push yourself just that little bit harder to get some more of what the mountains have to offer.
Everything said and done, and as you knew it, a fitness plan was surely coming your way. Read through till the end so you can start working your way towards getting more out of your treks and avoid that ‘Why the hell did I sign up for this?’ feeling.
Check with your doctor first before starting a new fitness training program. Ensure that there are no injuries or seemingly harmless niggles that might get aggravated and worsen with exercise.
We will concentrate on these broad categories to improve fitness for the mountains and high altitude trekking in particular.
Fitness plans are based on your specific trekking goals. The training activities remain the same, training duration and difficulty level increases as you train towards preparing for a hard trek.
Fitness Plan and Goals for an easy trek
Trekking for 4-5 hours over easy to gradual inclines with a 8-10 kg backpack.
Trekking involves walking at a pace that is not taxing to you. Aerobic exercises like walking with a heavy backpack, jogging on a an incline, climbing staircases are all good full body exercises that build aerobic endurance as well as leg and upper body strength. Cycling a few kilometres everyday is another way of building stellar aerobic endurance and leg muscles to die for.
Halfway through your jog or cycling activity, stop and stretch your muscles. A good way usually is the bottom to top or top to bottom approach. Start from your toes and work up to your head or vice-versa, for the stretching exercise. Stretch a little more with each passing day, with due precautions though.
Work steadily to achieve these goals and give your body enough time to get there. If you feel your body is responding well, extend the time or repetitions for some of the activities you are most comfortable with.
In addition to the above, do the following for strength training
Fitness Plan and Goals for a moderate trek
Trekking for 5-6 hours or more every day over moderate gradients with a 8-10 kg backpack.
At least two of the exercises below to be practiced regularly with either the cycling or jogging part done on an incline.
Fitness Plan and Goals for a difficult trek
Trekking for 6-7 hours or more every day over moderate and steep gradients with a 10-12 kg backpack.
You should be able to do all of the below in a single session with appropriate breaks.
As you have read through above, for each higher fitness goal, the duration of the activity of number of repetitions increases. To train harder, perform repetitions slowly, pausing or holding a position of strain slightly longer to make the exercise more effective.
Listen to your body
Start slowly and build gradually. Do not attempt to do many things too soon. Push yourself but not so hard that may cause an injury. Most importantly – enjoy your time out training. It should be fun and not something you dread each day.
Now go climb that stub of a hill near your campsite! :)
A must have for every serious trekker, this is one of those essential items that one must always carry but hope never to use it. The first aid kit must remain in your backpack at all times though. Outdoor or wilderness first aid kits are different from the standard first aid kits available mostly for household use. These standard first aid kits focus mainly on comforting the affected person before emergency services arrive. On a trek, far from civilization and where it can days for medical help to arrive, these first aid kits are not enough. A wilderness first aid kit is what you must carry along to the mountains. It is important to have at least one person in your trekking group to be trained in first aid or wilderness medicine to put the outdoor first aid kit to good use.
Pre-assembled first aid kits are common in the US and most European countries. Indian adventurists do not have such convenient options however. Even if a readymade kit is available, putting together your own kit is the best way to go about it. The first aid kit can be prepared keeping in mind the area in which you will be trekking, number of trekkers in the group, trek duration and special medical needs or prescribed medicines for the trekkers.
Remember the first point I made at the very beginning of this blog. Your aim should be to never have to use your first aid kit. This can be easily done by recognising your limits and not trying anything risky. Most trekkers underestimate the effects of high altitude which can prove very costly. Be aware of the common problems associated, especially with high altitude trekking. Sunburns, dehydration, headache, nausea, Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS – try to avoid these common illness by trekking cautiously and not pushing beyond your limits.
Based on the first aid courses I have attended and medical training received during climbing expeditions, I have compiled a list of contents that should ideally form part of your wilderness first aid kit.
This is no authority on what a first aid kit should contain, but the section below gives a good idea for those making their first aid kit by themselves.
wildmed.com, wildmedcenter.com, treksafe.com.au and ravenrescue.com are some sites referred to for information on this topic. Items not available in India have been removed or replaced with locally available variants and medicines for Himalayan trekkers in specific have been included.
Basic First Aid
Carry all first aid items in either a waterproof toiletries bag or a zip lock packet. I have been using a first aid kit pouch from WildCraft and it has served me well over the years.
Link below is for the excel sheet version of the first aid kit contents shown in the above picture.
IMPORTANT, Please Note:
Good to have in First Aid Kit:
In addition to the essentials listed above, these are a few items that can come handy in certain situations:
Survival accessories that can be added to your first aid kit:
Always remember though that the best of gear is useless without the proper knowledge required to use it. Same applies to the first aid kit. Do not carry stuff you don’t know how to use. Do not use what you have carried if unsure about it, unless there it is an emergency. A trained first aid practitioner should be the one to use the first aid kit when necessary.
What first aid supplies have bailed you out when in need? Comment and share your experiences with us.
Your first foray into the outdoors always makes you a bit nervous. But there’re always those who have been there and done that. From whom we can learn a lot. And there are some of my own tried and tested ways that I would like to share with you all.
Yes, we all love spending time in the outdoors, sometimes we do that for weeks together. But there’s a lot that should be done during your time at home too. The Internet is a source of information like no other and very often, hours and days go by when I am glued to my laptop. Reading one article after another and gobbling down as many tips and tricks that can be handy in the field.
The blogs coming your way over the next few weeks are an attempt to present what I’ve read online, all the second-hand knowledge gathered scouring corners of the net – to present it in a condensed, meaningful way. So that you can save some time and spend it more wisely outdoors.
So here are a few pointers you can keep in mind when starting out:
Choose your first trek wisely
First of all, trek difficulty and trek are to be considered. Start with short weekend hikes around your city before heading into the Himalayas. You will learn many things from shorter, easier treks that will make it much easier for that long
Select a trek keeping your specific interests in mind and what you want to experience. All treks are not made equal – some have more wildlife while others have spectacular waterfalls. Simply joining a trek because that’s where most of your friends have been before is not the right way to go about it. For you may simply want to relax and hike through forests rather than trek up a challenging mountain pass.
Also keep in mind distance from the nearest city. Unlike countries with a more developed rescue options we do not have the luxury or the means to call for a rescue. In case anything untoward happens you’ll be far away from civilisation and days away from any help. Start small, with easy treks and slowly build up your confidence in the wilderness.
Know your trekking style
Decide if you want to trek independently or with a trek organizing company. For beginners it might be more reassuring to get the logistics sorted out by the trek organizers even for the shortest of treks. Customizing a trek to suit your needs can be a slightly expensive affair though, if you’re not in a group of 4-5 trekkers or more. Alternatively, there are the fixed departure treks where you can simply sign up for a trek starting on a particular date and join other trekkers who have also signed up the same trek.
You can also trek independently though this will definitely require more grit and determination. You will have plan and arrange the trek logistics by yourself. This should only be opted for by experienced trekkers though, or when accompanied by an experienced partner / team.
Go along with an experienced partner
Solo treks can be extremely rewarding but resist the urge to venture out on your own, especially when you’re new to the outdoors. Unless you are a seasoned trekker with plenty of experience, avoid heading out alone. Join like-minded adventurers and head out along with a group. Accompany someone who knows their way around and can get you out of tricky situations, so that you don’t find yourself completely over your head if anything goes wrong.
Carry appropriate gear
Gear to be carried depends on the region that you’re heading out in and the season you are trekking in. Your gear should cover all probable incidents that you might face.
The ten essential pieces of gear to carry to be prepared for emergency situations has evolved over the year and is now referred to as these ten systems:
Leave No Trace
You must have heard this before and you will keep hearing it. And you must, for this is the mantra all trekkers MUST follow.
It is a lot of fun to be out in the wild but it is also very important to keep the wilderness as we found it. Indians are known for their dismal ways when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. I’ve come across campsites littered with food wrappers and toilet paper flying in the wind. The pollution so common in the cities will only spread to the mountains, if not conscious of your actions. Better stay indoors and let the outdoors be, if you cannot take care of your surroundings and keep them clean.
Leave No Trace (www.LNT.org) lists seven principles that promote ethical, low impact outdoor recreation. The major principles: carry back your own garbage and stay away from wildlife. Ethical outdoor recreation in detail will also follow in another blog.
Cleaning up your own trash is the least that you can do. If possible, try and carry back some garbage other trekkers might have left behind. Go ahead, set an example for the others!
Your trekking plans and expected date of return must be communicated to someone. A family member, friend or any other responsible person must know about this. It helps to sound an alarm if your return is delayed for whatever reason. It also helps rescue teams to plan their search & rescue properly based on the information you have passed on to someone before leaving.
More trekking tips for beginners
Keep these things in mind and your first trek should go well. You will surely make mistakes and learn from them. We all do, even experienced trekkers go wrong every now and then. But trust the outdoors to teach you in its own style, slowly but surely. Eventually you will understand your own body, its shortcomings; your trekking style and how you need to prepare for the tougher treks you always dreamed of.
This is by no means all there is to keep in mind for beginners. Do share more points you feel will help those who are yet to head out on a trek...
No, the Sandakphu Trek is not the only trek in the world with views of 4 of the 5 tallest mountains in the world. There’s an easier trek and one that promises an insane number of rhododendrons on display. Just look at this tree draped in red. And yes, the red bunches bloom in vast numbers on trees, plants and shrubs alike. After all we are talking about the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary here.
We had just completed the Sandakphu trek and had to head back to Yuksom in Sikkim. The plan was to trek onward to Gorkhey and head off towards Hilley, from where one enters the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. Leave Sirikhola we did, but Taashi and friends had some other plans in mind. The next stop was Samandin – a lovely village on an upland just half an hour before Gorkhey. And such was the hospitality that a planned stay for a night extended to three days of fun and adventure. Fishing in the Rammam Khola and scavenging for frogs under the riverside boulders made up the adventure quotient. A game of football with another team of trekkers, carrom with the local kids and the old folks with rounds of ‘chaang’ (rice beer) ensured enough merriment throughout our stay.
Samandin is also known as the lost valley of Sikkim is an undeniably beautiful place with extremely friendly and hospitable locals. The farms and houses are spread out neatly across a scenic plateau with narrow little pathways that allow you to for delightful stroll around the village. There are a few camping spots for those who love to amble and lie around lazily on smooth grassy patches. An adventurous hike through the woods nearby provides access to the Rammam Khola hidden away in the forest – no marked trails though, so you need to hustle your way through. Fishing seems to be the favourite pass-time of the locals here, and we too indulged in this activity and were rewarded with some prized catches.
We finally moved on toward Hilley, at noon on 21st March, aiming to stop at Barsey for the night. Passing through Gorkhey, we moved towards Bhareng, an hour’s trek away from Gorkhey. Trekkers returning from the Sandakphu-Phalut trail can head to Bhareng, instead of going down to Sirikhola and end their trek here as well. A new road coming up connects Bareng to Jorethang and transport can be arranged from here to NJP / Siliguri.
From Bhareng we joined the under construction road that climbed up to Ribdi. It was a broad mud path, an uncompleted road winding up to a few huts located higher above. Ribdi is a well equipped, relatively large town about an hour’s trek away from Bhareng. We stopped here for a short while to ready our supplies for the trek ahead and sip on a few cups of tea in the meantime. And good we did take this short break, for the trek ahead was a long steep climb for 2 straight hours all the way to Hilley. Yes, we could have trekked along the road for most part, but that would have been a bit boring. It would have taken us more than 3 hours too. So we took a shortcut that climbed up steeply from the Ribdhi school and high above the houses of Ribdhi. The trail through forests and farm plot with views of the surroundings, as always provided some relief from the demanding trek.
Two tiring hours of trekking since our short halt at Ribdhi, we made our way towards the huts of Hilley, at the far end of the town where the road coming in from Jorethang ends. As we walked into Hilley, the weather changed completely. The dry, hot weather had now given way to cold, misty conditions at the 2900m altitude. The windy conditions and our clothes soaking with sweat meant our jackets came out much earlier than anticipated. A snack was long due as well and soupy Wai-Wai noodles provided much needed nourishment near the tourist huts.
Hilley is a popular tourist destination in West Sikkim with many visiting it just for the good weather and the greenery around. It is one of the entry points for the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary as well. And inside the Park is where we were headed. With the dues paid and paperwork completed at the entry gate, we entered the thick bamboo and rhododendron forests within the Sanctuary.
The Barsey Sanctuary or ‘Varsey’ as it also known, occupies a vast densely forested area of 100 sq. kms. and is home several varieties of rhododendrons, magnolia, primula, bamboo, orchids oaks and pines. The trekking trails within the park are mostly easy but there are chances of losing one’s way and getting lost within the dense jungles. With green hills all around, hidden waterfalls, diverse flora and fauna the Barsey Sanctuary is worth a visit for bird-watchers, trekkers or simply nature lovers.
Barsey was about an hour’s trek or 4kms away from the entry gate and we moved at a leisurely pace, enjoying hiking on the green trail. Natural light barely made its presence felt through the thick growth of bamboo and rhododendron trees. It was 6 pm by the time we reached the lovely trekkers hut inside the park. Set in the midst of the forest, the trekkers hut has a private room on the ground floor and more dormitory style beds. A kitchen maintained by the locals serves up food for travellers passing through. There is plenty of open space around the trekkers hut to pitch your tent too, if required. There was no electricity however, which brought out the small chess board that Dhandu carries all the time. I hadn’t played a lot of chess before this trek, but Dhandu and Taashi got me hooked on to the board very fast. Working up the grey matter for some reason seemed to be a good way to wind up the day after a tiring trek J
The day always starts early in the mountains and today was no different. We were packed up and ready for breakfast before 6 am. Some commotion ensued just outside the trekkers hut and we walked over to investigate. The Kanchenjunga Range has just made itself visible in the early morning light and all trekkers were enamoured with what was on display. Having just completed the Sandakphu Trek in glorious weather and brilliant panoramas of the Sleeping Buddha, the view probably didn’t delight us as much. But who can resist the pretty sight of mountain tops basking in yellow-golden sunlight. Out came the cameras and we gazed at the beautiful nature on display yet again.
Breakfast consumed, we wasted no time in hiking up to Deoningalidhap – a campsite about an hour away from the Barsey trekkers hut. Another group was already camping here and we moved on quietly, careful not to disturb some of the trekkers sleeping inside the tents. Well rested from the previous night, we moved fast through the now narrow trail in between thick bamboo forest. We were headed to Achaley. One need to be careful on this part of the trail as it does disappear at times and can trick one into taking an unwarranted detour.
Mostly consisting of gradual ups and downs, the trail is not challenging for the experienced trekkers. But every now and then the trail opens up and offers a glimpse of the hills all around with green forests and rhododendrons in abundance. We were a bit late for
From Achaley or Achalley Dara, one trekking route heads towards the Singalila Ridge. Trekker can connect to Phalut and Gorkhey from here or trek towards Thulo Dhaap, Kalijhar and Chewabhanjyang on a longer route to Uttarey. Another alternate, is to descend to Uttarey, the shortest route to get to there through the newly constructed Tenzing Hillary Park. Phokteydara a short hike up from Kalizar promises 360 degree views of the Himalayan peaks and 4 of the 5 tallest mountains in the world, just like Sandakphu and Phalut. Although we did not hike up to Phokteydara, being close to the Singalila Pass and closer to the Kanchenjunga range than Sandakphu and Phalut, it surely must pack some stunning views for the trekkers.
We took the direct, short route to Uttarey and started our descent. The trail was steep at times but there was plenty of cool forest cover along the way. It took about two hours to get down all the way to Uttarey. An hour into the descent we reached a few huts and a diversion along a kachcha road that lead to this memorial in honor of Tenzing and Hillary.
From here on, Uttarey was clearly visible far down and across on the other side of the valley. We trekked through Sherpa Gaon and Gumpadara villages on our way down before reaching the road-head at Uttarey.
Uttarey is another tourist destination in West Sikkim is frequented by many travellers and trekkers seeking the Singalila Ridge. The Singalila Pass and the sites of Phoktey Dara and Kalijhar near the base of the Kanchenjunga Range are good spots to trek to.
We had been trekking at a fast pace since 6:30 in the morning and it was by 12:30 pm by the time we completed the trek. Lunch was important before we headed any further. Rice and noodles and momos disappeared in no time once set on the table.
We were to drive to Pelling and then to Yuksom was what I had anticipated. But Taashi and friends were in no mood to go back so soon. We started on a short trek again, out of Uttarey but in the opposite direction. We trekked to the end of the road ahead of Uttarey, past the trout breeding centre by the riverside and up to another lovely village, Semphok – only after a refreshing dip in the river though.
Semphok was half an hour’s trek up from the road. There is a motorable road that leads up to the village too. But few vehicle ply here from Uttarey and trekking it up seemed a better idea than waiting for a ride. Some fun and games were on for the evening then – a game of volleyball in an improvised volleyball court followed by copious amounts of Chaang.
Our ride picked us up from Semphok early next morning for a drop to Uttarey. We hopped on to a jeep heading to Geyzing and the drive continued. Close to Uttarey, we drove over the Singshore bridge: Asia’s 2nd highest suspension cable bridge! The height was dizzying and there were some very anxious moments while crossing the bridge. Why no bungee jumping was a thought that came to mind, only once we were safely across on the other side though ;)
We crossed Pelling soon after and reached Geyzing for another surprise. It was the festival of Holi that day and the entire town had shut shop – only to celebrate the festival on the streets. Music, dancing and splashing water and colors on one and all – it was a great way to end our little adventure. We joined in the celebrations for a while and then headed on to get back to Yuksam late in the afternoon. Places and friends to be visited again another time for sure!
Basic steps to pitch a tent in the wild!
Here we take a look at pitching up a two-person, double-fly, dome-shaped tent with a pair of collapsible tent poles made of fibre. We set up camp in a place enough for a single tent and needing some improvisation to secure the tent properly. Also, a single person sets it up quickly in rainy conditions. The steps remain the same if there are more persons available to help pitch the tent – the job just gets done quicker and easier.
First a look at the parts of a tent and terminology involved:
1. Unpack your tent and lay out the contents
Get the tent out of the bag and lay out the groundsheet / tent inner in the desired area. The tent outer, pegs and poles should be removed and kept aside. Ensure all contents are in place and in good condition. Make sure the entrance of the tent inner is zipped close and faces the leeward side. Also, place some rocks or heavy objects on the tent bag, tent outer and other light-weight tent accessories so that these do not get away blown away in the wind. Cover them if possible to protect from the rain as well.
2. Spread out tent inner / groundsheet and insert corner pegs
The groundsheet should be spread out flat on the ground to insert the four corner pegs. Insert any one corner peg first through the rings provided at the corners of the groundsheet. Pegs should always be inserted at a 45 degree angle to the ground and inclined away from the tent.
Fix the peg at the diagonally opposite corner thereafter stretching the groundsheet outwards as much as possible before inserting this second peg. Insert the remaining two pegs in a similar fashion, stretching the ground sheets outwards, directed away from the other pegs. This ensures the ground sheet is stretched to allow maximum room inside the tent once pitched up. It also ensures there are no folds or creases in the groundsheet as well once the tent is up.
3.Position collapsible tent poles and hook up tent inner to the poles
We assemble the two collapsible tent poles and lay them beside the tent. Start with one pole and position it diagonally across the groundsheet. Insert the end of the tent pole into the pins attached to the rings at the corners of the groundsheet. The elastic chords inside the tent poles allow the poles to bend and form a smooth curve while doing so. Attach the hooks provided on the tent inner to the pole. The tent should now stand up partially as shown in the picture below.
Position and secure the other tent pole in the same way along the other diagonal and hook up the inner to the tent pole. The tent inner should not form the dome shape as depicted below.
4.Place tent outer over the tent and secure it to tent inner
Lay the tent outer over the dome shaped structure now formed and align it properly such that the entrances of the inner and outer overlap. Velcro attachments are provided on the inside of the tent outer to secure the outer properly to the tent poles. Use the hooks provided at the four corners of the tent outer and attach them to the rings of the groundsheet. The inner and outer are now pitched up and ready to be anchored to the ground. Close the zip of the tent outer before moving to the next step.
5.Secure guy lines using pegs to anchor the tent outer to the ground
Locate the guy lines provided on the tent outer and secure them one by one using the pegs available to anchor the tent firmly to the ground. The guy lines should ideally be at a 90 degree angle to the outer. Typically, for two/three person dome-shaped tents, four guy lines are provided on the sides of the tent outer – two guy lines towards the rear and two towards the entrance. An additional two guy lines are provided at the front to be secured with pegs in front of the tent entrance.
Here some improvisation was necessary as there was insufficient space and rocky terrain around the tent. The guy lines were secured using stones available at appropriate places.
6.Inspect tent to ensure it is pitched properly
Inspect the following to ensure the tent is pitched up properly:
7.Set up the tent for a comfortable camping experience
Once inspected and confirmed that the tent has been pitched up properly, organize the room available inside the tent for a comfortable stay. Place your sleeping mattress / carry-mat inside first and then place your backpack inside. Keep frequently used or essential items, such as water bottle, first aid kit towards the entrance of your tent. Your shoes can be kept in the covered area near the entrance between the tent inner and outer as shown in the picture. Avoid keeping sharp objects or using camping gas and stoves inside the tent as the tent material is flammable and can tear or catch fire easily.
Trekking is beneficial in more ways than one. For the trekkers, it helps increase their fitness and endurance by challenging them both mentally and physically. A trip to the Himalayas provides a much needed sojourn into the purity of the mountains and the environment.
There are benefits to be had for the natives too. Not only do the locals benefit economically, it increases interactions between the hosts and the tourists thereby promoting social and cultural exchanges. With the increase in number of trekkers venturing into the Himalayas, it is sure to stimulate social awareness and change.
But it is the responsibility of the trekkers to make sure their actions and behaviour make these interactions and exchanges meaningful in the long term. The tourists are, after all guests in the Himalayas and they must ensure their presence does not lead to any impact the environment and local cultures negatively.
Respect local culture, follow traditions
First and foremost, the trekkers must develop an understanding of the culture by reading up beforehand on related topics. Such awareness builds cultural sensibility and helps develop mutual respect between the locals and the trekkers. The tourists must also observe the behavior of their guide and the locals in general. Customs like taking of your shoes when entering someone’s house or a temple can be easily observed and emulated to good effect.
The respect must follow when taking photographs of the locals, houses, temples and the village lifestyle too. Always ask for permission before taking a picture. Trekkers must ensure that personal space is respected and daily activities of the hill folk are not disturbed. They must not follow the locals around or stare at anyone, making them feel uncomfortable. Showing the pictures taken to those photographed is always a good practice as well.
Greet and interact with the locals
The mountain dwellers are always known to be a friendly people. When passing through settlements, it is always good to greet the villagers and chat with them awhile. Hands folded and a polite “Namaste” is enough to ensure a warm smile and a greeting in return. While dialects are many and change every few kilometres, Hindi is the language prevalent and understood across the Himalayas, be it in India or Nepal. Learning a few common phrases in the local language always helps break the ice.
Once a conversation ensues, you are very likely to hear interesting anecdotes and folklore about the places you are about to visit. It will only add to the many tales the trekkers can narrate once they return home after their adventure.
Whenever in doubt or be it just to reinforce your knowledge, ask around for information. Information about the condition of the trail ahead, prevalent local weather patterns, restricted areas for trekkers, viewpoints and route-markers not to be missed – the locals have a lot to share.
Involve the locals in decisions that have a serious bearing on the outcome of an adventure as well. The lives of the trekkers can be threatened when attempting a challenging new route in the mountains or climbing up a dangerous steep trail. The locals will be the first to arrive when an SOS is sounded and they must not be caught completely unaware of the situation. When aware of the probability of an extreme outcome, the villagers can help the trekkers avoid getting themselves in a spot of bother as well as be prepared to assist speedily in times of distress.
Protect the environment and conserve resources
Care must be taken to protect the natural surroundings and public property while passing through settlements and shepherd huts on mountain trails. Avoid trespassing and do not damage huts, fences or crops when walking through civilization. Plucking fruits or flowers from the colourful gardens along the way is a big no.
The locals respect and conserve natural resources, especially food and water. It takes substantial time and effort to make food and drinking water available at higher altitudes Do not waste food, consume only as much required. Ask for small servings when served food at a camp or a home-stay and ensure there are no leftovers on your plate.
The environment in general must be handled with care too. Trekkers should stick to known well laid out trails, avoiding damaging the flora and fauna. Areas near water bodies and lakes at high altitudes must remain unspoilt.
Disciplined behaviour and modest attire
Early to bed and early to rise is the mantra in the mountains. Trekkers must avoid making noise late at night in the campsite or in a home-stay. Avoid consuming alcohol and the noisy revelry it may lead to.
While sensibilities vary from place to place and the mountain folk are an accommodating lot, it is always good to dress appropriately and modestly around the villages, especially when visiting temples and monasteries. Avoid public display of affection and the use of foul language as these can draw unnecessary attention and lead to a conflict. Handing over chocolates or money to little children is not a good idea too, as it encourages begging.
While one is free to answer natures call in the open when far from civilization and without access to toilets, trekkers must be mindful of hygiene standards and avoid relieving themselves in the open near settlements.
Carry away litter, do not throw garbage
Most settlements in the mountains are remote and inaccessible posing difficulties for waste disposal. Urban garbage treatment and disposal measures are not available in most Himalayan regions. Trekkers must hence always ensure to carry back all the waste generated during their stay in the mountains.
If you must hand over chocolates to the adorable little children crossing your path, make sure you collect the wrappers back from them and dispose the waste material once back in the city.
Conserve natural and cultural heritage
Heritage is rich in the high mountains. The locals take pride in their culture and appreciate those genuinely interested in learning more about their legacy. Spend some time to learn more about the culture from the knowledgeable elders of the village. One can also support the community by buying local, homemade and handmade handicrafts which have great artistic value and can serve as wonderful souvenirs of your Himalayan adventure.
Planning a trek? A ready reckoner to help you make your choices!
It is important to understand the different ways one can go trekking in the mountains. A little bit of research goes a long way to ensure that the trek you are going on offers you the best in terms of what you are looking for.
Here's a brief glimpse into the types of treks one can go for and the things you should keep in mind:
Some arguably call it the ‘purest’ form of trekking – trekking by yourself, either solo or as a small group, without using the services of guides or porters. This form of trekking is for the breed of adventurers who have a ‘Do It Yourself’ attitude.
Trekking in this case is of serious nature. It involves carrying your own backpack, tent, sleeping bag, personal gear as well as cooking equipment, ration and food supplies that will be required for the entire duration of the trek.
This form of trekking is ideal for those seeking real adventure and exploring the mountains in a self-sufficient, independent manner. ‘Tea-house treks’ which are characterized by the presence of hotels and lodges on the trekking trail can be hiked this way. In this case, you only need to carry your personal gear and the tea-houses cater to lodging and meals.
Points to consider:
Guided independent trekking
This is very similar to solo trekking but the services of guides, cooks and porters are sought independently.The trekker can rely on hired help to find the route, carry common gear including cooking equipment and ration (even personal gear, if required) and cook meals during the trek. The trekkers can trek light and hence enjoy the climb, indulge in photography and soak in nature’s sights and sounds in a relaxed manner.
Points to consider:
This is a good option for those who prefer to trek with guides and porters – but do not intend on planning, negotiating and managing the services of the hired guide by themselves. It is also preferred by those who trek on less frequented trails and manipulate their pace depending on their trekking style.
The trekkers can avail the services of a trek organizing company to provide with guides, porters and cooks and safety equipment that are necessary for the trek and manage all the logistics involved. The trek itinerary can be customized to suit the pace and needs of the group as well.
Points to consider:
This article written by WildBoots team first appeared in RedBull website courtesy The Outdoor Journal