Trekking Northern India

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Trekking Northern India

Postby weetbix456 » Thu 02 Feb, 2023 6:46 pm

Hey there!

Seeking out info regarding independent trekking in northern India (as opposed to gearing up with a local guiding company eg. IndiaHikes, Red Chilli). Information online seems to be fairly sparse, which makes me assume it’s not super simple (as opposed to neighbouring Nepal). Ideally would like to be able to trek without guides and organise own gear/food + transport to and from trailheads.

Interested in any logistical information regarding the following treks in particular:

- Kuari Pass
- Rupin Pass
- Pin Bhaba
- Gaumukh / Tapovan
- Markha Valley

*Have plenty of previous trekking experience, and have completed many high pass walks in the Andes

Thanks in advance!!
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Re: Trekking Northern India

Postby durks » Mon 06 Feb, 2023 2:04 am

I spent a bit of time in the area twenty or so years ago. In general, there is a dense and well-used bus network - so transport to any of the roadheads should be straightforward. Many religious pilgrims travel to the area.

Getting to Gaumukh and Tapovan is very easy: just get the bus to Gangotri, and then head off on foot. Allow two days to get to Tapovan. At Tapovan, we bivied one night in a cave, and we stayed with a Sadhu for a second night. We just carried everything we needed. The views of Shivling and Bhagirathi III are well worth the effort - what mountains they are!
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Re: Trekking Northern India

Postby gilligroom1 » Mon 06 Feb, 2023 7:59 pm

This is what I did last year (10 Sept), it's a cut and paste from my facebook post so a bit "newsy". Also this was part of a month long trip in Ladakh and I packaged a lot in with one local operator so got to Laymaru as part of my transport package. I also had a guide and a porter!! The porter was massive overkill as the weight in my larger pack wasn't that much (especially whenit was freezing and I was wearing most of my stuff). The guide was helpful as I have a hideous problem with direction. You could 100% trek alone and unguided. The trail is mostly very easy to follow. I would have had difficulty on the bad weather days if I was alone as the snow obscured quite a few sections of trail.

Details- Lamayuru to Chilling then onto the Markha Valley Trekking Route
Distance -250 plus kms
Number of days - 10
Elevation Gain - 5300 m
Elevation Loss - 5200 m
Highest Point - 5290m
Number of High Passes - 4
Highest Sleeping Altitude - 4860m
Longest Trekking Day- 9 hours
Most km day- 25km

The trek has really been the biggest highlight of this trip so far. There’s something about the simplicity of the routine- get up, pack up, have breakfast, walk, lunch, walk, dinner, walk. There’s also something about pushing yourself very hard that makes for a more memorable and satisfying experience (for me anyway). There were moments of sheer misery (like on all treks) yet the minute you reach that pass the misery melts away and you manage a smiley, accomplished photo. Even the summit day when I had an altitude headache which started in the early hours of the morning, was utterly sleep deprived and freezing, and was exhausted after every few steps even after a rest, climbing up that last pass the summit photo doesn’t give that impression. The elation wins.

The day to day was mostly fantastic, if not very memorable for so many different reasons. I really enjoyed the terrain- the dusty, dry mountainous back drops really appeal to my aesthetic. The towering-ness of it all, I love. The appearance of snow on the peaks after the first few days was awesome- the signs of winter approaching. Some days were really hot! There were 2 days in particular which involved a bit of road walking, those days were damn hot but luckily a stream by lunchtime always seemed to appear. 3 days were wet- drizzle taken over by rain, then freezing rain then snow flakes and heavy winds. They coincided with the longest days of course! We sat in 2 (conveniently located) shepherd huts amongst old dry cow/yak dung, and one tiny monastery hut, trying to get out of the elements for 1/2 an hour while inhaling lunch. Memorable moments.

Got a good mix of fertile valleys full of willow trees and ploughed fields. Lots of organic veges, still lots of flowers, stinging nettles and high altitude plants. Got some good mud. Got some great streams with clear water and on the last day, full on muddy raging streams (rivers!) from the new snow melt. That was one of my favourite parts- forging those river crossings, boots and all. On the 2nd half of the trek we criss crossed with a couple of camping groups, this meant sharing the trail with donkeys and donkey poo. There was also a fair amount of cow poo and yak poo (luckily no human stuff, unlike the Pakistan trek). It was sad to see a few of the camping people have to turn around with altitude issues- really felt for them.

Saw 2 herds of blue sheep and urials- such a highlight, at the higher elevations there were Himalayan marmots and pika. One set of big cat prints (alas no snow leopard seen though). A zillion goats and a few raptor sightings. There were always choughs. Lots of domestic animals- yaks, donkeys, goats, barky dogs and aloof cats.

The homestays were very variable. All were 10/10 friendly and kind.  Most run by older ladies supplementing income. Some places were super clean, some not very. It was always entertaining to anticipate my bed and the shared toilet for the night. The flies all died by the half way mark. The 3 bites I discovered in Lamayuru settled down only to be replaced by about 30 new ones after 1 particular homestay. Yep… BED BUGS- arrggghhh. Minguyr and Urgen were also covered in them, soooooo itchy. Some of those Chinese blankets we had to sleep in were not particularly fresh… even with my sleeping sheet and sarong as an extra layer the bugs won.

Nimaling fixed camp was my coldest memorable moment ever. The tents are 2 man so luckily I had double mats and blankets. I used every single one and still felt like a popsicle. One of the camping staff guys did a 0200 sweeping of snow from out tents. It’s also the first time I’ve had to sleep in my merino Long Johns, clothes, down jacket, beanie and socks and still been cold.

Breakfasts were generally roti with jam (the awesome apricot jam was replaced by generic pink jam as we got further on) and peanut butter or eggs and milk tea. Some places we had veges too. Lunch bags provided by the homestays were usually a juice box, 1 or 2 roti, 1 boiled egg (50% were off), 1 boiled potato, a twist of salt and a chocolate bar (of varying sizes). One time we got a banana- most divine banana ever! Dinner was a pasta vege soup, roti and rice or momos or a vege stew. And always tea. The best thing about getting to the homestays were the cups of tea and plate of biscuits.
The dynamic of the guide/porter and just me worked pretty well. Essentially I walked alone, they’d be a long way ahead and when I caught up it was always -“take a rest Gill” and they’d move on. When we got to the homestays they’d both go sleep (for hours). I’d go exploring by myself. I visited pretty much every monastery and stream in every village, particularly on the shorter and medium days. I met one American woman on Day 3 and didn’t cross paths again until we caught up for a coffee in Leh. I shared 1 homestay with a Czech/Australian couple for 1 night and no one else until the last night at the high altitude fixed camp at Nimaling. There was a Belgian/Colombian couple and a French couple also there. The 4 of them ended up coming with us for the last day - safety in numbers, as the pass was under new snow and the backside of the mountain fairly treacherous- narrow, snow covered slippery stuff.

The day after the last day pickup was scheduled for 08:30. I decided to walk to the next village though as I didn’t feel ready to stop walking. Lucky for me the taxi was running late, I got that last village and the next one in. Got to say it was pretty good to get to Leh - mostly just to have a shower and put on some clean, fresh smelling clothes. My body felt really good - no injuries, no falls, none of that niggly hip soreness that I seem to have at home. After 2 days though I was very ready to get moving again (even after finding a very good carrot cake bakery).

In summary … another great trek. Ladakh has a lot to offer. The quiet, the empty spaces and solitude was perfect.
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Re: Trekking Northern India

Postby weetbix456 » Fri 25 Aug, 2023 8:25 am

Thanks so much to those who replied :) very helpful
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