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.