Trekking in the monsoon! Most will express concern as soon as you announce you plans to take on the mighty Himalayas in this season. But little do they how the meadows and the forests don their brightest colours in the rain, how the landscape erupts in a multitude of hues and butterflies get busy flittering from flower to flower- their tiny feet and diaphanous wings stained with pollen. The dark forests appear darker- gnarled branches sprout new foliage and the undergrowth proliferates unchecked. Grey clouds smear the horizon but when they lift- the weather in the mountains is impossibly capricious- the sky is a jewelled blue and Nature appears immaculate. Though landslides and flash floods do plague this season, the following treks are little affected and are at their picturesque best in these months.
The walls of this valley stir a different kind of Stendhal Syndrome! Variegated flowers in every possible colour bloom in the monsoon and the Pushpawati Valley turns into a fairytale. Flowers like orchids, poppies, primulas, marigold, daisies and anemones carpet the valley floor while sub-alpine forests of birch and rhododendron cover large tracts of the national park. Add purple heads of distant mountains, azure skies and sparkling streams, all cocooned in a bewitching bouquet, and you have magic! The trek begins from Govindghat, and camping is permitted 14 km away at Ghangria.
Trekking Distance: 17 km
The Rupin Pass Trek is a thrilling trek that takes you from Uttarakhand to Himachal Pradesh over the dizzying 4650 m high Rupin Pass. All along the way, the white waters of the Rupin River will accompany you. The mountain side is laced with dollops of white, pink and red blossoms of the dwarf rhododendrons. Quaint villages with wooden houses and Kinnauri temples with exquisite woodwork appear from behind the folds of the tall mountains. Walk through dense forests of sweet-smelling maple, blue pines and deodar. Waterfalls, switchbacks, snow-fields, precipitous rock faces and alpine meadows- this trek has a little of everything!
Trekking Distance: 57 km
The popularity of the Hampta Pass Trek is emphasised by its proximity to Manali. This trek is mostly an easy trek and can be attempted by first time trekkers. The trail snakes through dense forests of deodar, maple and oak, past the icy Rani Nala before opening onto high alpine meadows of Cheeka and Balu ka Ghera, the Hampta Pass base camp. The ascent to the pass is steep and over snow patches and you wil have to trek to Shea Goru across the pass. When the snow is deep, the descent can be tricky and glissading is an option. The Shea Goru campsite is usually freezing due to its proximity to a glacier snout. The meadow is peppered with tiny pink and yellow flowers. Tall mountains rise up on both sides of the narrow valley. Weather permitting, can can trek to the breath-takingly beautiful Chandratal via Chatru.
Trekking Distance: 33 km
In the beginning of August, the otherwise sleepy hamlet of Osla erupts into festivities. Villagers from the Rupin, Supin and Tons Valley flock to the wooden temple of Someshwara Devta and offerings are made to the presiding deity, Duryodhana. The cradle-shaped Har ki Dun Valley is beautifully lush and is located at the base of the 3556 m Fateh Parvat. It is accessible through the Govind National Park which has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Animals like langoors, black bears, wild boars and Barasingha live in these forests. For birding enthusiasts, there are Golden Eagles, Himalayan Griffins and the Monal. Swargarohini – I, II, III, Bandarpoonch and Blackpeak loom in the distance. The Har ki Dun Trek has a bit of everything from alpine meadows and pine forests to moraine ridges and glacier basins and is well suited to beginners.
Trekking Distance: 28 km
The Markha Valley is a classic trek that includes the best of Ladakh- stark, unyielding mountains, luxuriant valleys, claustrophobic canyons, waist-deep river crossings, charming villages and orchards of apricot and walnut. Here and there you can spot a monastery perched precariously on a clifftop with colorful prayer flags fluttering in the wild wind. To this splendid mix, throw in a hike through the Hemis National Park- home of the elusive snow leopard- and jaw-dropping passes, the Ganda La and Kongmaru La and you have the trek of a lifetime! In the high season, tea-houses sprout all along the way. They provide cheap accommodation and food and are an effective alternative to camping. En route, you can get spectacular views of the Kang Yissay and the Stok Kangri peaks. Though the Markha Valley Trek is a tea-house trek, the high-altitude of Ladakh reduces the easiness factor.
Trekking Distance: 98 km
Pick any and let Nature serenade you. Each of these treks offer myriad spoonfuls of scenic beauty and adventure and no matter which one you choose, be prepared for an overdose of beauty and thrill. So which one are you attempting this season?
Article by: Mohana Das