Kareri Lake

Yes, it’s going to be your next story like our story.

Day 0

The real adventure is when you do everything on your own. This was exactly on our mind when we were preparing for our trek to Kareri Lake. We had done this trek before. But this time we wanted to do things differently. So we decided to take with us everything that we would need to survive without taking help from anyone. We took with us our tent, a small cylinder, cooker, rice, lentils, coffee powder, milk powder, sugar, butter, and even spices for cooking.

Though our bags were heavier than the last time, we were quite happy with our decision.

Our trip began when we boarded the bus from Majnu ka Tilla, this is a famous and common place to get a bus for Himachal, in Delhi. We were lucky enough to board the bus minutes before it started to rain. Had we reached there 5-10 minutes later, we would have been all wet just like those who boarded the bus after us. In these volvo buses, there is a compartment on the outer side of the bus where you can keep your bags. Since we had a cylinder with us, we did not want to risk keeping it there. Because who knows what it would go through among all other bags which are sometimes thrown at the top of each other. So we decided to keep it with us inside the bus. Though it took up some of our sitting space, we somehow managed to spend the bus journey.

Insights: The Volvo AC buses from Delhi to Himachal usually cost around 800-1000 ( price can vary 100-200 on either side). They are comfortable AC buses, the price includes the journey, a blanket and a water bottle. They stop once in between for dinner at some hotel/Dhaba. The stop is usually 30-40 minutes long and the cost of the dinner is borne by the passengers.

Day 1

We reached Dharamshala in the morning around 6:00 am. It is a wonderful feeling when you wake up to a fresh and cold breeze in the morning. Even though you have just reached the place, the place has an immediate effect on you. You feel a sense of lightness in your head, leaving all the noises behind. We seldom realize how many noises and impurities are around us. Only when we go to a place where the air is so fresh that you enjoy each breath, where you hear absolutely nothing other than the sound of birds and sometimes the sound of a bus making a turn on a distant curve that you realise how crowded the places are that you have been living in. If you are in a city and reading this just stop for a while and notice the different noises that you can hear.

The bus had dropped us at a petrol pump in Dharamsala, it is the last stop and also next to the bus stand. After walking for around 5 minutes and also enquiring about the buses, we reached

from where we would get a bus that would take us to Kareri village. Or so what we thought. Places like these are usually connected with public transports but unlike in cities, the frequency is quite less. For instance, if there is a bus that leaves to, for example, Kareri at 8:00 in the morning, the next one might come in the noon or maybe does not come for that day. So, these things you have to know in advance which are easily found on the internet after doing some research. This is quite understandable as well because the population is quite less in these areas. Although, travelling in local buses costs very less, when someone from, lets say, Delhi go there they are either unaware of these or choose to ignore these since they want to remain in their comfort zone and instead book a cab which cost a lot more ( just to give an example, a local bus will cost around 20-30, whereas a shared cab or taxi will cost you 300-400 for the same distance).

The bus dropped us at a turn of the road which leads to Kareri village and then it went to a different route. There we had to wait for another bus which would take us to our destination. Along with us, on the bus, there were two teachers who were also going to the Ghera village, which was on the way to Kareri village. So, while we were waiting for the Bus we had a little conversation with them. And they told us a bit about their life and how their regular days are like. It is really amazing how life can be completely different in different places. Things which are easily available in your city, in other places people might have to wait to get them. Transport is one example. We should learn to appreciate what we have instead of taking them for granted.

After a while, a cab arrived which was heading towards the village. We took the cab since not much distance was left. Riding on narrow roads surrounded by mountains, trees and sometimes passing by water streams. Soon we reached the Ghera village. The teachers got off there but we still had to go to Kareri village. We tried to negotiate the price from there to the village with the driver but could not come to an agreement. We thought we could easily get another cab and hence we too got off there. But later realized that it was a mistake as we did not find any cab and had to walk a lot. After walking for 30-40 minutes on a steep shortcut ( the ones you see between two parallel consecutive roads hilly areas) which involved walking through bushes and small stairs like rocks, we covered some distance but still had a long way to go. So we decided to take some rest in the hotel that was just ahead of us. After, I guess, around 30 minutes we somehow managed to find a cab. And finally reached Kareri Village.

Upon reaching there, we quickly took a sip of water, refilled the bottles, carried our bags on our shoulder and started the trek. In the beginning, we started by shooting a short clip of the trek, and in the clip briefed about the trek and what we were carrying with us. It was around 11:00 by then. Now, when I look back it kind of amazes me to think how long that day was. Taking an entire day to reach the lake ( our camping site). Starting at 7:00 in the morning, when the bus dropped us in Dharamshala to 6:00 in the evening when we reached the lake.

The complete trek took 7 hours to complete. Along the way, we met a number of trekkers. Some were descending and others were going for the lake just like us. Just after we started our trek, we met a group of veterans who were coming down from the trek and when they told us the time it took them to complete their trek we really got motivated and we picked up a good pace. At least for a while, we did.

After walking a while, we encountered a group of college students who were also descending. Unfortunately, they had messed up a nest of bees and some people from their group were badly bitten. My friend, Ujjwal, was pretty scared of this incident. And he wasted no time in putting his raincoat on. Along the way, we met a young couple who were also going to the lake. They had a guide with them to show the way. This trek, however, can be easily completed without a guide as you will find a lot of other trekkers on the way and second because the route is quite simple. By simple I mean that it does not require any specific skills to complete the trek, the only thing you need is a bit of fitness and your will power.

The five of us covered a long distance together before they went ahead when we stopped to shoot a video in between. It becomes easy when you are doing such activities with someone as the route and the time will pass talking with one another. And even if you are travelling alone, you will find such company on a trek. Out of which some become lifelong friends. We had soon covered almost 80% of the route. And usually, it is the last stretch that you struggle with. Since we had all that weight with us, it was getting really tough to cover those last few kilometres. We stopped for a while to take some rest and hired someone to help us with the weight. And to our surprise, we were hardly 30 minutes away from the camping site. Finally, we reached the campsite, pitched our tents and took rest for a while before beginning our dinner preparation.

After a short rest, we took our cylinder out of the bag and started preparing coffee. Although we were exhausted and had the option to get the food and tea from the shops available there, we didn’t. Because then all the effort of carrying all the extra weight of the cylinder, utensils ( cooker, plate), and the raw materials ( all the lentils, and other stuff) would go in vain. So, we found a stable place to put the cylinder and were sipping the coffee in no time. The feeling was absolutely amazing, just imagine after a hard day, carrying all that weight on our shoulder, walking for 13 kilometres from morning to evening, and then enjoying the hot coffee in the cold surrounded by mountains, sitting in front of the lake with newly made friends sharing stories. What else can we expect? Wait, there is more. How can we not have a bonfire when we are in the mountains. That’s our tradition, whenever we trek we get to have a bonfire. So, we arranged a bonfire as well. And sat around it after cooking food for ourselves.

We sat around the bonfire for quite a long time, talking, playing games, and sharing stories. This is the best part of trekking and is one of the reasons why we and a lot of people do it. And then when everyone was sleepy, one by one we all went inside our tents and went for sleep.

Day 2

The next day, Ujjwal decided to go for the Minkiani pass whereas I decided to stay back and get some more rest. I knew, I was still tired from the trek and needed more rest hence stayed back. Ujjwal with some other people and their guide went for the pass. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a relaxed day and again went for a quick nap in the afternoon. It was cold even during the day but the weather was clear and the sun was shining bright. After my little nap, I took out my novel which I had brought with me for reading, sat on a rock enjoying the bright sunlight and started reading it. When I was done reading, I started putting some more ropes on the tent, tying it to the stones lying there in order to make it strong in case we get strong winds at night.

When I was feeling a bit energised, I started exploring the area. Going up to the mountain just behind our campsite. Climbed it for 30-40 minutes and when I reached a good height clicked some pictures and came back to the campsite. By this time, Ujjwal had also returned. Unfortunately, due to bad weather at the pass, they couldn’t reach the top and had to return. Thereafter, we decided to get some wood for the bonfire. Once we got the wood, we came to the campsite and started preparing for dinner. Soon it got dark and we were again around the bonfire with some new friends, who had arrived that day at the site.

Interestingly, in the mountains we are in our tents for sleep by 9:00-10:00 as there is not much to do after it gets dark. However, in the cities the lifestyle has become such that we don’t pay much attention to the time. There we have all the comfort at our disposal, from a warm and comfy room to easy access to delicious food just a call away. But in the mountains, we even keep track of the movements of the sun and clouds as their movements directly affect us. If there are clouds, we would start preparing for the rain by getting into the tents or going to a safe place where we would not get wet or putting on our raincoats. If we see the sun going away, we would try to finish our day tasks as soon as possible as it is difficult to do things in the dark and also because the temperature drops dramatically once the sun is gone. And it gets even more difficult to do things in the cold. Soon the day ended and we went to sleep.

Day 3

We had decided to go for the pass again. So we woke up early, had our breakfast and started the trek. We were 6 in total including our guide, who started a bit late after we had begun as he was faster than us and caught up on the way. Somehow, I was still tired and it was clearly affecting me, as I was having trouble walking. I was really surprised by this because the last time when we came to the Kareri Lake trek I did not get this tired. Later, I realised that because I did a lot of cycling a day before the trek and also because I went for a run in the evening the same day I had exhausted my body and it all was making me tired on the trek.

In total, the trek took approximately 7 hours. Around 4 hours to reach the peak and another 3 hours to come back to the campsite. This was the first time when I attempted something like this. The height of Minkiani pass is approx 4300 m. The view from the pass was really incredible. You could clearly see the valley on the other side of the pass. The trek was a bit difficult, at least I felt that way. I think it was because of the tiredness because even when we reached the top, everyone except me was enjoying the view and taking a lot of pictures. And I just found a big rock and lied on it. Trying to regain some strength. And after a while joined them.

During the climb, I was so exhausted that I had to take little breaks of 1-2 minutes after every 100-200 steps. As we were climbing up, the view kept on changing. Our birds-eye view and the area our eyes could see both kept on increasing. There were also times when we had to climb like a monkey. Partly because we were tired and climbing this way would distribute the weight and gave us some speed and partly because the route demanded us to climb us that way in order to get a good grip as in some places it was quite steep.

In such treks or any activities where you have to work hard, there is always a fight that’s continuously going on inside your mind. Particularly, those activities where you are trying to push yourself beyond your limits. And that’s what was happening with me. Though the trek wasn’t that difficult but me being exhausted made it so. The fight remains the same, one side you have your brain ( in this case every part of the body) screaming to stop and quit and on the other, your will not to quit.

Upon reaching the top and after some rest, clicking pictures and eating some snacks we were ready for the descent. The descent is usually easier and the rest and the little snacks that we had really helped and I felt better for almost 80% of the descent. The last stretch seemed too long to me and to make things worse, it started raining. We quickly put on our raincoat and kept on walking. The raincoat that I had was just a jugad and was not good enough for heavy rain. So, I had to run in between in order to reach the bottom as fast as I could. Thankfully, it didn’t rain heavily and I somehow reached the campsite without getting an evening shower.

Upon reaching the campsite, I went straight inside my tent and took a little nap, as I was really tired, had a little headache and was feeling very cold. The nap really helped and when I woke up after 1 or 2 hours, the headache and my tiredness were gone and I was feeling much better.

By then, it was dark and everyone was enjoying the bonfire. I also joined them. This time instead of cooking the food we bought it from there. Since it was going to be our last night, we stayed up a bit late and for one last time enjoyed the bonfire, music, food, the company of newly made friends and our achievement of the day. And then later said goodbye to the night and went for sleep.

Day 4

Next day we woke up to a rainy morning. It had been raining at night as well and we woke up several times because of that. In the morning, we had to pack everything and that too by remaining inside the tent. By the time we had our breakfast the rain had stopped. And we were ready to go. This time our bags were a little lighter as we had sold our tent, the cylinder and the cooker to the shopkeeper there.

We started the descent, stopping and taking pictures in between. And soon we were at the Kareri village where thanks to our newly made friends a car was waiting for us. Not particularly for us but it was for them and we also tagged along.

There we were, in the afternoon at the place where the bus had dropped us 4 days ago. We still had 2-3 hours before our bus would come so we decided to go to Mcleodganj to eat some good food. We took an auto, reached the main square, found a good place to eat, and had our lunch. I can not describe how good we felt after we ate that food as for the past four days we were just eating rice and daal. Afterwards, we took a shared cab which dropped us to the bus station.

We thought our adventure was over, but we did not know that there was another one waiting for us. You might have guessed it by now. It was our bus. It did not reach on time. In fact, the bus was around 1.5-2 hours late. After the long wait, the bus finally arrived and then we were on our way back to routine life.

About the Author

Unique Jain is an avid traveler and trekker who enjoy spending time in nature. And writing about his adventures.

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