Scared, Anxious, Excited - First Solo
Updated: Sep 27, 2022
I have a busy job. Even though I don't get much time to travel, it is ultimately all I want. When I came to the realisation that both material possessions and people are transitory, travelling became my end goal. What stays with you are the memories and the experiences that you gain. I used to crave work, but lately, happiness is what I'm craving. And my travels aided in achieving that 'bliss'. I am now content not only when travelling but also when working.
I have travelled frequently with my friends but a part of me always yearned to be by myself and I was never able to experience that. So one fine day while making my way to the office, the idea of travelling solo occurred to me. Although it wasn't the first time, I had previously dismissed the feelings with some lame justifications, which I subsequently came to regret. However, I couldn't help but feel that way, and I bought the tickets straight away out of fear that I would use the same lame justifications to abandon the plan. I took a deep breath after receiving the booking confirmation and realised that I would be going to Indrahar Pass alone.
This is by far the best and craziest thing I have ever done because I've never travelled solo and it shaped me into a different version of myself. My ability to be alone has grown stronger as a result of it.
It was Dussehra of 2018, I left on 20th October 2018 (I work on Saturdays, so it was an off for me.). I left Chandigarh at midnight. I reached Mcleodganj early at 6:30 AM. The Volvo dropped me at Mcleodganj Bus Stand. It wasn't particularly cold, but in the morning I felt a little chilly, so I decided to have a cup of tea and something to eat as I was going to begin my trek from Main Square. While having my breakfast, I met an old Tibetian woman who was visiting her children in Mcleodganj. She told me she was coming from Dehradun and also offered me the meal which she was having with her family. The best food I've ever had while travelling.
Gallu Devi Temple
It is a lovely hike from Mcleodganj to Gallu Devi Temple. A calm stroll through the stunning pine forest, which is teeming with monkeys.
The sun was about to rise. It felt calm as the sunlight began to light my path, I was feeling cold while hiking up. Monkeys could be seen swinging on deodar cedars. On my way, I also came across a kind soul, Upma. She was trekking just to witness the sunrise and readily accompanied me to Gallu Devi Temple. A writer by profession, she discussed the novel she was writing. Since she wasn't going any further, we waved goodbye to each other. Meeting folks who are pursuing their deepest passions is always wonderful. I gave her wishes for her book.
On my way to Triund, I barely took a break but I captured some beautiful pictures.
In 2 hours and 30 minutes, I had covered the 6-kilometre steep path from Gallu Devi Temple to Triund. Since I didn't stop in between, I developed cramps along the road, therefore I recommend you to take breaks. Taking breaks while descending is crucial to avoid cramping that could leave you unable to walk or risk suffering significant leg injuries. I chose to unwind once I arrived in Triund. Sitting right in front of the mighty Dhauladhar range, I was lazing in the scorching sun. I met Anas, a great guy from Dubai. He was in India for three months. He told me that meeting new people and getting to know them when travelling alone might make the experience fascinating. He gave me little tips on how I could have a fulfilling trip. He is, in large part, a highlight of my trip. After speaking for an hour or two, bidding each other farewell, we exchanged our contact details - hoping we see each other soon.
The Trail to Snowline Cafe
Right when I started climbing up to Snowline, I met five incredibly fantastic South African natives who were visiting India.
Since they were heading to Lahesh Caves for the day and targeted to reach Indrahar Pass, I decided to accompany them for the rest of the trip. While climbing up to the Snowline, it started snowing. It was the first snowfall of the season, and I was overjoyed to see it. Though I was not prepared for it. In no time, it started snowing heavily and we could not clearly see the mountains.
I borrowed a tent and a sleeping bag from Snowline Cafe because I wasn't carrying them. We start heading to Laka Glacier, our next destination.
Our spirits were so high that we chose to go on to Lahesh Caves. Even though I didn't have enough warm clothes with me, I still felt too excited to spend the night in the caves. I lifted everyone's spirits and started to go forward.
Within a few hours, the whole mountain was covered in snow - enough to make us question further hiking from Laka Glacier.
We didn't have enough water until we saw a little stream flowing down from the mountains. We filled our bottles and kept climbing to Lahesh Caves.
I faced difficulty because there was too much snow and my shoes weren't suitable for the conditions. On a steep slope, I slipped twice or thrice, suffering some bruises. I had only taken about 20 shots with my DSLR, and I was starting to feel like I was carrying a burden.
We managed to climb it up after due ups and downs. And when we reached up there, the view was breathtaking. We were standing in the middle of the mighty Dhauladhars.
The cave was congested - 8 people were going to stay inside the caves and only 2 tents could be set up. It was a c0ld evening, around 6:00 PM, sun had already set over Triund and the snowline. However, caves shone like gold. We spent the night in the caves and prepared pasta for dinner. Thanks to the Tibetan men and the others I'd been hiking with for helping me with the food; otherwise, I would have starved to death that night.
The next morning at 7:00 AM, we began our trek to Indrahar pass. The view from the top, looks straight from a dream.
While coming back down, I waved goodbye to the good people and left the pack to reach back to the bottom. I had to catch my bus back to Chandigarh by 5:00 PM from Mcleodganj. Back on my way back to Mcleodganj, I met with Ana. She was from Portugal and coming back from Caves too. We hiked back to Gallu Devi temple together. Learned a lot about the things from her country and happy to know more about her.
I said goodbye to the good people as I descended and separated from the group to return to the bottom. I had to catch my bus back to Chandigarh by 5:00 PM from Mcleodganj. On my way down, I encountered Ana, a Portuguese woman. She had just returned from Caves too. Together, we walked back to Gallu Devi temple, talking all the while. I was pleased to learn about her culture.
That's the thing about travelling solo. You meet new people, learn and grow.
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Happy Travelling :)