Triund 23rd-24th May 2013
I have only vague recollections of a day hike I made from Macleodganj in 1990. If it weren’t for the old and deteriorating slides I have in a box in my basement in Canada, I might have misplaced the memory altogether. Fortunately not. I do remember it was a special day, alone in the mountains. I wanted to repeat the hike – I knew it would be quite different after a gap of more than twenty years but the mountains and the views would not have changed much. And the exercise would do me good.
When I mentioned that I was going up to Triund to Rachel, a traveller from New Zealand, she asked to come along. Then Harish, born and resident in the UK but of Indian descent, and Australians Pat and Rita joined us, so it was a group of five that left Macleodganj at 8:30 on Thursday morning.
It was a bit of a slog out of town up to Dharamkot, a steep road. I had recce’d the route earlier so knew the path to take after Dharamkot that avoided the dusty road and occasional vehicle. After a little less than an hour, we reached a tea house and temple at the start of the trail proper.
We stopped for a leisurely tea, still waking up (myself, at any rate), then continued up the trail. It was already warm in the sun.
This view of the hillside terracing looked familiar from my old pictures.
It hasn’t changed that much, really. A new tin roof, that’s all. No satellite dish! But nothing to power it, either.
We saw fifty or sixty people on the way down as we worked our way upward. They were mainly Indian trekkers and a few Westerners. Quite a change: I don’t think I saw anyone hiking for ‘pleasure’ in 1990, just a handful of locals bowed down under loads of firewood.
And at around 12:30, after three hours of uphill interspersed with obligatory tea stops at tea stall along the way (probably an hour), we were on top. Suddenly, there was a level meadow in front of us with a magnificent backdrop of the Dhauladhar mountains.
When I had been here before, I had been the only one. I had the meadow to myself; it had been cooler, an overcast and windy day. And quite magical. Now there was blue sky and sunshine, quite a few hikers and three tea shops but it is still a magical and serene location.
Three monks from Bangkok had hiked up and were wandering around, happily, like kids in a candy store. They were having a great time.
A few of the trekkers were setting up tents and it didn’t take me long to decide that I had no need to return to Macleodganj that day. I could rent a sleeping bag from one of the tea shops and sleep out under the stars and almost-full moon. I had the afternoon and evening in front of me to walk about, read, take pictures…
In the distance (14 km by road and trail but only about 5 km by eagle airways) and a long way below in the Kangra Valley, Dharmshala cricket stadium (1460 m above sea level) is visible from Triund (2875 m above sea level)
My group headed back down to Macleodganj at around 4:00 pm, I had a supper of paratha and took my sleeping bag off in search of a comfortable and quiet bedroom. There was no shortage of possibilities. And it was a wonderful night, sleeping well but waking occasionally to take in the mountains by moonlight.
It started to get light around 4:30 but the sun didn’t arrive until a couple of hours later:
And I didn’t even have to get out of bed to enjoy the sunrise! Not such a bad place to sleep, is it?
I spent the next few hours enjoying the peace and quiet (despite inquisitive sheep and goats) and watching the eagles soaring in front of me. What a perfect morning!
I delayed my departure for as long as possible and started to head down around 1:30 in the afternoon (after a couple of alu-parantha for sustenance). There had been a fairly steady stream of arrivals and, on my way down, I passed another sixty or so who had left it quite late and were finishing in the full heat of the afternoon. Again, they were mainly Indian tourists.