The one and only time that I have trekked is from Dharamkot to Triund; and it has taught me that I might not be made for it. Located at a distance of about 9 km from McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh, the Triund Valley trek offers amazing panoramic views of Dhauladhar range from the top at different times of the day – dusk, moonrise, and dawn.
For someone who always used to enjoy physical exercise, this experiment was a complete shocker. To give y’all some background: this was my very first trip without my parents. I was 21 years old and was travelling with my best friend from Delhi to Mcleodganj; and like a complete idiot had complete faith in myself in finishing this trek quite ‘comfortably’.
By the way, this particular trek is regarded as one of the easiest treks in the Himalayas, and the right choice for a beginner. Now, there are also two routes which one can take to reach the top. One of them is via Galu Temple while the other is through Bhagsunath Waterfalls.
As the former one is considerably easier in terms of steepness and terrain, we picked that one. (But it didn’t feel remotely easy for us).
How Being Stubborn Ruined The Trek
Our hotel manager had told us to take the easier route and had also suggested leaving early. There are two options that we had: either take a cab till Dharamkot and trek from there, or take the cab up to the Gallu temple (the very last point where cars can go) and start there. Our taxi driver very confidently asked us to pay him 100 bucks more and start our trek from the temple instead of Dharmkot (as we were ‘young girls’ and it was almost impossible for us).
This was on top of at least two locals already telling us that we couldn’t do this alone. Maybe we were being stubborn, but I believe this (all these people who kept questioning our capabilities as ‘girls’) was the reason why we didn’t change our plans. I believe this the reason why we didn’t change our plans specifically, was due to these warnings that kept questioning our capabilities as ‘girls’. Well, we just didn’t want to admit they were right. But however long we took, we actually reached Triund.
It Was Supposed To Be EASY
Not knowing our limits, we took the cab only till Dharmkot and started our on-foot journey from there. Our 9km trek began at 11.00 am in the morning after our light breakfast (not to mention that my friend managed to puke all of it). Even though we took almost 5-6 hours (don’t laugh) one way, we eventually did manage to finish. I didn’t think we’d actually make it (especially with my friend’s constant puking).
Though we were quite grateful to everyone (foreigners included) who was pitifully looking at us trying to reach the peak and who kept encouraging by lying − “oh it’s just an hour away now. Oh it’s just 45 minutes away,” − during our weak moments we would have appreciated some honesty. One shepherd who was casually walking down the path did give us just that and put us in our place by telling us: “I usually take 30 minutes, but for you guys, I am guessing 2 more hours.”
We literally were chanting ‘Girl Power’ to encourage ourselves as well (Lame? I KNOW!).
Things I Learned On My Triund Trek:
1. Stay sober the night before. Yes, I know its cold and you’d want to try some hard liquor to chase the cold away. But, if you are planning to go for a trek the next morning, it’s best to be alert and well.
2. Do not have a heavy breakfast, cuz gurl (or boy) you gonna hurl!
3. Please understand that it’s a trek, obviously, the way isn’t going to be paved. Wear shoes that have a good grip because of course, you don’t want to slip and fall to your death (I wanted to).
4. Please know as you climb up, you will feel the change in pressure, temperature and obviously OXYGEN. So, yes it’s going to hurt and your breathing will be laboured (if you are not used to walking or climbing).
5. Since we aren’t used to these high elevations, trekking or even hiking might cause ‘Altitude sickness’ which can occur when one travels to a high altitude in a short period. This happens regardless of age, gender, and physical condition of the traveller. The symptoms might include – difficulty in breathing; headache, dizziness, and nausea. Make sure to drink a lot of water, and eat light meals. The trek’s difficulty will really depend on your fitness level really, the terrain itself isn’t that dangerous otherwise.
6. Make sure to choose the healthiest travel snacks to lessen the chances of slackening our pace, getting sick, or making us lazy (which is a very high possibility). We had water and some biscuits that we kept for ‘a glucose recharge’. To be completely honest, my friend wasn’t feeling that well since morning. During the entire trek, she kept puking after every few steps. You’d think, at least wouldn’t stay dehydrated as we were carrying water. However, water was proven worthless when she began throwing up that too.
Still, look at our bull-headed selves. We simply didn’t give up.
7. Personally, I would just remind you to check how far can you actually climb or trek BEFORE you set out. This isn’t your regular walk to the nearby grocery store or any park. While the difficulty level is medium (or even easy for some) and it is possible to come back the same day, (for those who haven’t trekked before) it’s always better to think ahead and prepare yourself for it. Just because they say its easy, doesn’t mean its gonna be easy for you.
8. Leave early. First of all, you’ll reach early. Secondly, the weather can be quite unpredictable here. So if it starts raining, the trail can get slippery and dangerous. The trek involves gradual to steep ascents. While the first 5 km might seem very simple, the last 4 km gets steeper and requires a sturdy walk. This stretch is popularly known as “22 curves” because of the 22 sharp curves en route. If you are fit and faainee, your fitness might not be challenged during the trek but your will to finish will be. I mean, mine definitely was. Not gonna lie, I wished to just jump off and end the pain in one go.
9. Carry a power bank, warm layers like shawls or jackets, headlamp/ LED torches (we were very proud of our little LED lights), TOILET PAPER and basic medicines.
Finally Reaching The Top
Leaving even earlier will also give you an option, if you’d want to camp and stay for the night or if you want to go back. Since we began late, we obviously reached late. Thankfully, we reached right before the sun was setting down. It has been one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
As we had reached the top on time and before dark, this was a blessing as we could rent a two-man tent quite easily, and we could also pick our own spot to set it up. This was great, as I kept thinking that if we’d been carrying the tent with us, I would’ve probably taken the cab back to the hotel. No kidding.
During this 9km trail, (which felt like Mt. Everest trek) I felt one of my biggest mistakes was carrying my camera with me. As someone who has never trekked before, this was definitely a crazy thing to do. My quads were crying while I was carrying around that 2 kg camera.
Anyway, did I kiss the ground when I reached the Triund Top? No. Did I almost cry? Maybe; yes. The splash of colour that welcomed us when we reached the top, was just the highlight that we needed. We stayed the night and finally relaxed a star-studded night sky and a took part in a musical bonfire session that we won’t ever forget.
Luckily our ‘walk‘ back down wasn’t as bad as our trek up. While we were told to be especially careful while going down, we still finished it in 3 hours (yes, half the time we took to climb up). So, this was my one and only trekking experience. Let us know about yours in the comments below!