We didn’t have enough time to plan a special trip for our birthdays this year. The inclination was low and KC was supposed to be in USA for work. When the work trip was cancelled, I looked up options online. We have talked about going on a trek but never done it. The Bhrigu trek seemed perfect because it is 4 days trek and meant for beginners. The idea of trekking to 14,000 feet to see a frozen lake seemed exciting.
Last time we were at such high altitudes in Leh Ladakh, both of us had altitude sickness and it has taken us 7 years to gather the courage to scale that altitude again.
We took the bus for Manali and spent 1 day relaxing. Hectic trips are not KC’s thing and proper relaxation time has to be planned for him. We met the group of trekkers (26 of them) the next day in the afternoon. The drive to Gulaba 22 km from Manali took 2.5 hours because of the crazy traffic. The traffic here can give Bangalore serious competition. We managed to cross the checkpost because our car driver was a local. The other 20 people weren’t so lucky and they had to trek up the 2 km road. We were carrying 10 kg of luggage each in our 40L backpacks and trekked up 1 km. The mules carrying our tents had not yet reached and it started raining. We put on our rainwear and waited for our tents. The first night is a blur. At some point it stopped raining, we took in the beauty of our surroudings- green meadow surrounded by snow capped mountains, peed in the outdoors till the tents were ready, introduced ourselves to the other couples/family/solo travellers/group of friends, had dinner and dropped dead inside the cozy sleeping bags.
On day 2, we had to trek 6 km and 2,000 feet to reach the base camp for Bhrigu lake. KC hired a mule and I offloaded all the additional luggage into his bag. We didn’t have a day pack only for essentials and I hiked with 5-9 kg of stuff in backpack. We crossed meadows and the higher we went, the tree cover reduced. The ascent was slow because there was no point reaching the campsite before our mules. The mules started late. We stopped at every 500 m to catch our breath and wait for the slower ones. The climb is so much easier without luggage but nobody except KC had hired a mule. There were waterfalls which were far away and we were admiring them. Nobody told us he had to trek to them. We crossed actual waterfalls on a narrow and steep path. It was scary because one wrong foot and we could have slipped to our deaths. After 5 hours, we reached the campsite.
There were 2 companies trekking that day and the best site was taken by Indiahikes since their mules reached earlier. Our tent was on sloping ground and the tents were placed close together. As soon as the tent was setup, there was a hailstorm. A bunch of us waited in the dining tent for lunch, which took hours. KC started having altitude sickness which got worse as time passed. He had a bad headache and dizziness. No amount of walking outside, sipping water and wear warm layers made him feel better. The claustrophobic tent enclosure didn’t help matters. Getting sick at 12,000 feet without medical help is very scary. There is no cure to altitude sickness, no medicine or precaution to prevent or cure it. Somehow we got through the night and decided to trek back a day earlier. It was our vacation and if he was unwell and not enjoying himself, there was no point to the vacation. I couldn’t have trekked to Bhrigu lake leaving him alone when he was unwell. We spoke to the trek leader who arranged for a porter to help with the bag and take us down. The trek back took only 2 hours. After 2 hours of wait for our cab and another 2.5 hours drive, we reached Manali and to civilisation with it’s hot showers, clean clothes, good food and a soft bed.
This trek was to check if it’s our thing or not. I loved it. I managed fine without hassles. Being in the beautiful outdoors which can only be reached on foot is amazing. I can only credit my running/gym schedule for making me fit enough to not be a lagger. We weren’t the first ones to reach the top but we were definitely in the 2nd group of people. To do it with 5-9 kg of luggage on your back isn’t child’s play. I will go on more treks, maybe weekend treks from Mumbai and I plan to come back for the Bhrigu lake whenever the weather is most accomodating. For KC, this is it. High altitudes are not his thing.
I leave you with some pictures of the beautiful terrains (can’t upload pics on phone. Will do so in sometime).