This is going to be the first day of our trek. We woke up at 6.30AM and went out for tea at the bazaar. It was very cold in the morning and we discussed the trail with few other locals at the teashop. After having tea we came to our hotel room and got ready for the day. Kaushal came to our room at around 9AM. The trail starts near the famed Hidimba temple. Kaushal’s place is at the foot of the temple itself. We took an auto rikshaw for his house. (We started for the trek in an auto rikshaw. How very ironic!!!). The trail for Lamadug started from somewhere near his home. I felt bad for that small auto riksha because we were three, plus our rug sacks and the road was very uphill. Anyhow it managed to drop us at Kaushal’s house.
At Kaushal’s house, his wife and three massive dogs greeted us. We had breakfast of “Puri” and “Bhaji”. After sometime Rinku also joined us at breakfast. He is going to be both the cook and guide for coming days.
We started at 11 AM. Our destination was Lamadug at an altitude of 3000m. Rinku was walking with us and Kaushal was helping Prem in managing the horses. I thought, since this is first day, it is going to be easy but it was to be the other way round. The climb was steep. Since I was using my trekking boots for the first time and they were not broken in properly, it was little uncomfortable walking. I was breathing hard and losing my concentration. I was thinking whether I had become old in just one year because in my last trek I had done extremely well. As part of the preparations also, we did pretty good workouts for almost 3 months.
I slowly began to get a picture about the coming days as we climbed towards our destination. In spite of getting tired, we didn’t stop at many places and kept moving at a good pace. Sandeep motivated me saying that it was because we are trekking after a year. We walked for around 3 hours and reached Lamadug. After reaching our first day destination, Rinku told that we did pretty well. Normally people cover this distance in four and half hours but we did it about three hours. This was sufficient motivation for me.
The trail was through the thick alpine forest of the Manali sanctuary. We were hoping to see some wildlife/bird life , but there were no signs.
The Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges emerged, but there was very little snow on the peaks.
On the way, Rinku told us so many times that the weather should be good for at least next seven days. On the seventh day, we would cross the Thamsar Jot and we wouldn’t want to get stuck anywhere because of bad weather. After hearing the same statement repeated so many times, I started praying to all the Gods in the heaven to be with us.
The reason for Rinku’s statement was: During this trek we have to cross two high altitude passes (or Jots as they are called in Himachal), the first is the Kalihani Pass and the other one is Thamsar Pass. Both are at around 4800 mts. The village of Bara Bhangal is in a valley between these to high passes.
If the weather becomes bad before crossing the first the pass, we can always come back to Manali. But if the weather becomes bad after crossing the “Kalihani Pass” then we are stuck. We can’t come back and we won’t be able to go ahead because both the passes will be covered with snow. And even if we attempt any of the above options i.e. either coming back or moving ahead, the horses won’t be able to make it.
Kaushal, Prem and horses joined us at our first campsite after half an hour. They got late because kerosene, which is going to be used for cooking our food, spilled from the tank. That was bad news but Kaushal assured that we have sufficient amount left so nothing to worry.
Kaushal and Rinku pitched the tents and we also helped them. After that we had some tea and lunch and casual talk with both of them. We spent sometime in exploring the campsite. This campsite was very similar to “Semkharak” campsite during our Kuari Pass Trek.
After sometime, we went inside the kitchen tent and had hot soup. Around 6pm we had our dinner. It was started getting cold. Since Sandeep was not wearing sweater, after I insisted a lot, he put on his new sweater. Prem also brought some firewood from the jungle. We had campfire that night, this is my favorite part of the trekJ. Around 7.30pm, we went to our tent. This tent was big and the sleeping bags were also good. I thought whether I would be able to sleep or not.