Travel story contributor: Jitaditya Narzary
If you ask a seasoned traveller about Triund Trek they will probably laugh it off. It is a trek that you can do in a day and come back by the evening for dinner in one of those sleek eateries of McLeodganj. However, it is not exactly a cake walk if you are new to this trekking business and used to a not so active life in the plains.
It was one of early trekking experiences. I was at McLeodganj mainly to soak in the Tibetan aura. It was early November. The weather was good and so were the restaurants. After a couple of days of mindless food binge, I thought I should do the trek to compensate for the gluttony. After considering various options, I thought Triund will be optimal for my needs.
So, the trek began on a cold November morning. The sun was however shining brightly and the sky was so clear that I could also see the moon on the other side. A few vultures (or kites) started circling in the sky at such an angle that I could see the moon through the circle. It felt ominous although the formation was broken before I could take out the camera. Disappointed, I kept moving on. The first few turns were pleasant. I could see the whole Dharamshala from a higher altitude. The path was also mostly covered with trees to offer shade. However, big trees got rarer as I gained altitude and I began to take breaks more frequently.
I often found refuge in the shacks selling water, tea, Gatorade and packed food items can be found all along the route. However due to logistical difficulties in maintaining supplies they charge twice the MRP for everything.
The upper reaches were a bit dull in colour. As it was almost winter the grass had dried up, assuming a reddish brown colour. Also, with higher altitude I soon witnessed the uncertain nature of the mountains. Suddenly everything got covered by a thick veil of mist and practically blinded me for a while. My pace slackened even more and I started to proceed by cropping and the rocks and branches of trees, whatever my hands could reach. Thankfully after a few minutes a strong breeze drove away the most and it was all sunny again. Just at that moment a good looking shepherd dog manifested out of nowhere and started howling. Then I noticed that it is just keeping an eye on the herd of costs on behalf of his owner. The goats, in case you did not know, are excellent mountaineers. They can climb steepest of the slopes even without following the actual path, hanging precariously at awkward angles, just to find their food.
I finally reached the top after more than three hours of climbing which will be considered shameful by a genuine trekker. Nevertheless, I was happy with myself and found rewarded myself with Maggi and Gatorade. There is a forest rest house without a bathroom and a few shacks selling food and also offering shelter at the Triund top. It offers excellent views of the Dhauladhar Range, unless fog decides to play spoilsport. While I came back to McLeodganj the same day, it is possible to camp and spend the night at the top which is what I did the next time.
I made a second trip next year. This time the target was more ambitious. The target was a multi-day trek crossing Triund and Lahesh Caves and reach the top of Indrahar Pass, which connects Dharamshsla to Chamba district. However for me it was doomed from the beginning as I fell sick. I still reached Triund and spent the night at aforementioned forest rest house. But the next morning I decided to cut it short along with a couple of other people who were not fully fit too. While the rest of the party went ahead, we just did a short hike to the snowline cafe, who was the last shack providing shelter and food in that route. It is run by only one man who lives there alone most of the time. It is known as the Snowline Café, the last source of food on that route. Beyond that one has to camp at the caves and carry all the supplies but I will have to try once more to experience that.