Kinnaur Lahaul Spiti Trip 2017: Introduction

This series of posts is a travelogue of my recent vacation covering Kinnaur, Spiti, Lahaul and Manali in 16 days. It was a solo trip for most part and involved travel on road, camping, trekking and just lazing around on different days. My previous trip to this region was in 2015 in which I planned to visit Samudri Tapu glacier among other places but had to drop the Samudri Tapu part after people with me backed out and the water bodies swelled up overnight with unexpected precipitation.
Somewhere in Spiti

Somewhere in Spiti

There was some snowfall and rain this time too, but I was a bit lucky to finally complete the Chandra Taal to Suraj Taal trek which was the main purpose of this trip. I had to do the trek with a Gaddi shepherd instead of a proper guide, but it worked out quite well in the end. Rest of the stuff was not planned at all and just happened without any plan. It was quite an enjoyable vacation. I saw a lot of very interesting and beautiful places, met some great people and some stupid ones too.
 Following is the general itinerary. I will be writing all of this in detail in a series of posts later

 General Travel Itinerary

 
Day 1: Evening bus to Shimla from New Delhi. Meet up with driver and evening stop at Sarahan with rest stops for breakfast, tea. Visited ancient Bhima Kaali temple and walked around the town.
Day 2: Drive to Chitkul via Sangla and Rakcham. Walked around the village and beyond. Discovered a pretty mountain stream and that famous last Indian dhaba by accident. Hiked 3 km to ITBP check post. Civilians not allowed past that point.
Day 3: Next day stop at Kalpa with rest stop at forgettable Reckong Peo. Walked around fruit orchards, saw that “suicide point”. Spent some time a that “Last Village”
Day 4: Next night stay at a small guest house just before Nako. It overlooked Leo village which we visited earlier. We also made a stop at the last village in Ropa valley. Interesting yet quiet place.
Day 5: Night stay in Kibber. Spend 3-4 hours hiking and exploring places near Gete village.
Day 6: Visited Tashi Gong and “roads” nearby on car. Passed Chicham’s brand new bridge to reach Chandra Taal.
Day 7 to 9: Stayed at camp site, hiked and explored some new places and revisited some old ones.
Day 10 to 12: Trekked to Suraj Taal with a Gaddi shepherd as my guide. My first proper solo camping under the stars.
Day 13: Took a lift in truck from Sruaj Taal to Keylong and a bus from there to Manali.
Day 14 to 17: Lazing around in Manali.
A small village Gete

A small village Gete

Rough Route on Google Maps:

This map is showing Chandra Taal to Suraj Taal road route, but I trekked the distance (approx 45 km).
Blue sheep I saw on the way

Blue sheep I saw on the way

GEAR:

 I had some of the camping and hiking gear already and bought some new stuff for this trip from physical stores and online both. Following is the list:
1.  Food which included dry fruits, chocolates, MREs,
2.  Some essential medicine including one for AMS, stomach upset, first aid and so on.
3.  Enough clothing for the trip which included wind-cheater, t-shirts, gloves, socks, caps, sun-glasses, bandannas and other stuff.
4.  A camping stove, 2 propane canisters. In hindsight, 1 would have sufficed.
5.  Rucksack Quechua 70 liters . Slightly heavy but very rugged and well designed.
6. Tent Quechua.  Proved itself in strong winds and easy to setup and pack.
7.  Hiking shoes.  Old but very rugged and comfortable.
8. A water bottle and a bottle with filter. But didn’t use the latter much. Mostly drank whatever water locals were drinking or from flowing streams and springs.
9. A multitool like this one   I haven’t had a lot of use for it till now, but a good thing to have.
10. A camp light, torch for light. Lighter and matches for fire.
11. My trusty Nikon D7100 with it’s default 18-140 mm lens and it’s essential accessories in a separate camera bag. Didn’t bring any other lens to keep weight low.
12. A foldable solar panel  and a DC camera battery charger for charging camera batteries. Worked quite well in it’s first field test.  Detailed post http://jjamwal.in/yayavar/charging-dslr-camera-batteries-by-solar-panel-while-traveling.
13. An aluminum pot with cover, steel mug, plastic spoon and plate.
14. A map, pen, compass, tape, scissors and a few other small stuff.
15. Wifey’s permission.
Total weight of luggage was 16 kg rucksack and 5 kg camera bag.
Chandra Taal Lake

Chandra Taal Lake

Rest of the posts will have details of the trip in some detail.
Suraj Taal

Suraj Taal

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