The scree so far held tight till sunrise started rushing in from all around us in the steep narrow gully of Rupin Pass with the rising sun.

For once, I thought that some lizards just started running around. There were many at the start of trek in Dhaula village near Naitwar.

Sooner when I realized it to be stones falling from side cliffs, I looked at Akash who was at the foot of the pass gauging the climb, unaware of the hazard.

I hollered at him to hurry and allowed myself some time to breathe. Pass was just few meters away. Our guide had just reached the pass.

Starting from Rupin valley, Uttarakhand and ending in Sangla valley, Himachal; Rupin Pass trek gives you a chance to witness a complete transition of culture in around 60 kms of distance.

Being a moderate-difficult trek, it is suggested by few to go as to prepare for little difficult ones like Pin Parvati.

I got to know about it, when I went to Har Ki Doon trek an year ago. In my research of it, I found out, many people praising the sheer beauty of the trail all over the internet. We started for the same in the month of September.

Day 1

This time, it was me and Akash for this trek. We had taken the last bus to Sankri which reached Naitwar by evening, nearest town from where the trek starts. Till this time, it had become very clear to me that we should take a guide with us on this trail. There were no other groups going on this trek this season. Many trekking organizations had cancelled their batches. So, in case we are not able to follow the trail, guide would be very instrumental in such situations.

While entering the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park region in the evening, the forest official had pointed me to a list on a wall. It had names and numbers of some odd 20-25 registered local guides in the area.

Not stopping in Naitwar to continue to Dhaula where the trek actually starts, we went further up to Sankri village which was home to the most of the guides in aforementioned list. With the help of shop owner there, I was able to get hold of a guide. He came by the shop after some time. He himself wasn’t available for us, as he was currently engaged with some trek organization on Kedarkantha trek. He suggested someone who he said had been to that trail before. I was fine with anyone who knew the trail and made a deal with him for the guide and his vehicle to drop us till Dhaula village. He also let us rent a tent, sleeping bag for the guide and cooking utensils and stove for the trek.

Day 2

Previous night, we had purchased all the necessary things for the trek from local market and were waiting for the guide to start our journey. He came in early with his vehicle and we settled our business by giving him the advance rent for equipments/utensils we hired. Another guy in his vehicle, was our guide for the trek. We introduced ourselves. We were not taking porters and decided to distribute everything related to food supplies (bought from Jhaka)/utensils among ourselves.

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After some tea in Naitwar, we reached Dhaula around 11. This place was teeming with lizards all over the trail. With every step they were running away towards the bushes with head held high. After lunch in Dhaula, our trek finally commenced around 12:00 in the noon. It was a bright sunny day which was making the climb tiring. Our guide had taken a shortcut and we followed him on a path without trail for some time. After initial climb, the slope was gradual and we started following the trail. Walking briskly, we reached Sewa village by 14:30. Hanging on a guest house by a peculiar Kinnauri style temple, which is most noticeable structure of the village, was a banner of Bikat Adventure. This guest house was supposed to be the stay of Bikat Adventures trekkers, but the batches were cancelled for this season.

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Kath-khuni is a type of cator-and-cribbage building which employs locally available wood and stone as prime materials for construction. The origin of the term is explained by O.C. Handa (2008) as ‘…combination of two local terms: kath and kuni. The word kath is a dialectal variation of the Sanskrit word kashtth, which means wood, and kuni is again a dialectical variation of the Sanskrit word kona, that is, an angle or a corner. Obviously, the kath-khuni wall implies it should have only wood on its corner or angles.’ There are several variations observed from region to region. It is also known as kath-kona, kath-ki-kanni, koti banal in Uttarakhand etc.

We still had time left before the sunset, so continued further. Now the trails goes through a deep forest by the river. We crossed a wooden bridge on Rupin, which is near the very boundary of Uttarakhand and Himachal and entered the Dodra Kwar region of Shimla district in Himachal. After crossing the river, the trail snakes up, beautifully carved in a near vertical face of a hill.44719412045 970c8deded o

After some walk, in this dense forest, so we exited into completely different region. This was Gusangu, first inhabited place of Himachal we encounter. A road-head out of nowhere one would’ve imagined. It was evening time, children were coming back from school. After having some snacks from a shop nearby, we continued for Jiskun which was our planned stop of the day. From Gusangu, road climbs sharply up to Jiskun after a long flat walk on the road. Now, we had started feeling the fatigue and sun was about to set. Around 18:30, we reached Jiskun. By now, it was getting dark. Walking on the road felt more tiring than walking on a trail. Today’s was around 20 km walk. Overnight in a homestay.

Day 3

This day we aimed to continue our pace and reach Dhanderas thatch. Around, 13:00 we stayed for lunch in Jhaka. We also bought some food supplies, sticking to the basic food (rice, pulses etc.), just sufficient enough for us to last for 4 days considering 2 meals a day. Around 14:30, we reached Saruwas Thatch.

Here, we faced an obstacle. A strong stream of Rupin river in front of us to negotiate. To continue further to Dhanderas thatch, we needed to cross it and walk along it’s left side. Today, Akash was relatively slower and further behind. I asked him to wait for a while till me and the guide find a way to cross the river.

We spend some time walking up and down the river bolder strewn bed hoping to find a spot to cross the river. There was no easy spot and it seemed that we may have to enter this intimidating stream. This proposal was not really welcomed by Akash. Our guide suggested to stay the night, hoping that tomorrow early morning the stream might be less fierce. I cut some grasses on the slope with ice axe to make the spot good to pitching our tents. Our guide started preparing for our early dinner. It was a dense jungle and we were just beside the river bed. High slopes were all around us.

When we retired to our tents after dinner, our guide came to our tent and said,

Bhai mujhe darr lag rha hai, mai Akash bhai ke sath so jata hun; ap mere wale tent me so jao. That made us all laugh, wondering what might be his fears. Anyway, I switched places with him and was happy to get more bed space.

Day 4

I woke many time in the early morning with the sound of rain. Our plan to cross the river even today was in jeopardy. We waited for the rain to stop. It was around 11:00, when we were finally ready to go after having breakfast cum lunch for the day. We found a spot up on the river bed, where one could cross the river if jumped across with our full force. The stream there was little narrow and fast. So, if someone failed to jump, it would have definitely been dangerous. Our guide jumped across first and I threw across all of our bags to him. That really required serious shot put skills given the weight of our bags. After crossing the river, there was no turning back and even a chance to help other in jumping across. I remained this side and asked Akash to jump. He was little doubtful about his jump. Our guide had put some stones on the other side in case the jump falls short. Finally Akash jumped, with his full force, but the jump fell little short of expectation. He landed on a loose rock on which he slipped and his one leg went into the water and he fell sidewise.

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Our guide who was waiting for him onto the other side quickly caught him though he was out of danger. He thanked his mobile in his pocket for saving him from any injury. I also followed the course with the thought in mind that it is ok if my steps doesn’t land in the right place; I should clear the stream at any cost. Well, I flew just overshot myself. And it was really fun. We continued further.

After few hours of walk, valley really opened up. Now, it was wide with very little or no slope. We were walking besides the river bed which had soft grass all around. There, the land has gotten so flat that river wasn’t even flowing in one stream and it had different branches which were converging further down from where we’re passing by. Any depression further up would’ve clearly converted the whole area in a lake.

This wide and long Rupin valley converges in a mountain further up in front of us and on the mountain there is a cascading waterfall with two major cascades. Down from the valley, it is difficult to see anything further behind the mountain top in front of us. Hovering on the mountain top, there was some dark cloud formation. Sunlight falling on the top of mountain, was putting a spotlight on the waterfall. All of it would make you feel as if the river is just pouring down from sky on the mountain and forming this beautiful waterfall. From our right flank of the mountains, many more waterfalls joined the Rupin. The soft carpet of green grass all around on this flat land was making everything so colorful and vivid and no words could really explain what one would feel about it. I might just use all the cliched words for it.

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Had we came in the month of August, it would’ve been even more wonderful when the flowers would’ve been around on the hill slopes on our side. This was the most perfect spot for camping. We chose one nice spot for camp, settled for the day

Day 5

Today, we realized that we hadn’t planned our food rations very well or some really got lost. All we were left with now was rice. It seems that we had bought pulses in little amount as compared to rice. So, we have now had to resort to rice with some maggi masala or salt and onions. We started our day around 10:00 and started walking towards waterfall. Trails were nowhere to be found now and and we were forcing our way into the tall and dense flowers on the left side slope of river valley. Our guide was quick to negotiate the area and we were watching our steps through the chest-height grass before taking them.

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Sometimes Akash was behind and playing catch up with us and the the process even dropped his bag on the slope. Luckily the bag stopped in the grass, else it would have been a long journey downward to pick the bag from gap between slope and huge snow bridge on Rupin river. In few minutes, we reached the lower water fall and and crossing it wasn’t as difficult as expected.

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Only thing which was making us slow in this trek now was the continuous climb with good amount of weight. Our guide was walking fast and I had to wait in the middle sometimes to keep everyone together. After upper water fall, Akash used to get behind a lot and we waited for him more frequently. I made good use of my whistle which I was carrying to keep each other aware of general direction most of the times. It was getting cloudy, and visibility was very low. Trails were faded or sometimes not visible at all because very few people might be crossing the pass this season. Seeing the bad weather and unawareness of the distance of next campsite, I was trying to make Akash hurry up. I didn’t do a very good job in motivating and Akash was really tired. He was taking frequent and long stops. When he was left behind, echoing whistle was confusing him in poor visibility and sometimes he even lost track of trail. Because of this we also had to take frequent stops. This way we might get caught in hail or rain, I thought. After some persuasion, at one stop, Akash allowed me to take his bag. I was little afraid of weather turning bad and we needed to make it to campsite before it happens, so I pushed forward with guide and asked Akash to try his best to follow us. It was a difficult walk now. I could imagine, this whole scenery around us could’ve been more beautiful and picturesque, given the weather didn’t turn against us this way. Trudging up on the gradual slope besides with Rupin stream flowing slowly on our right, when we reached Rata-Pheri around 14:00, wind had now become chilly. Without wasting any time, we pitched our tents. It had started raining. We all took refuge in one tent and cozied up in sleeping bags. Around sunset, the rain subsided.

Day 6

It was D-Day. Last night we had planned to start early. Morning was chilly and hands were getting quickly numb while un pitching our tents. With our best effort to start early, we started for pass little before 8 AM. Starting from Rata Pheri, we entered in the glacial cirque, just before Rupin pass. Our guide pointed us towards the point where pass was.

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Hopping big boulders along the path was little difficult without snow, and we trudged along with our guide towards the pass. The trail was not visible and everyone was taking the shortest possible way towards the place where pass starts. It was not far, and everyone was visible, so we all moved at our own pace. At the foot of the pass, we all assembled for little water and rest but started climbing soon afterwards. The last stretch towards pass is a steep narrow gully filled with scree and loose rocks on both sides of cliffs. During the time we were climbing, there was no snow. Sun had risen when we were at the foot of the pass.The rocks exposed to light start to slide or fall off with the rising sun.

Though it was not scary, but Akash was far behind. Without saying much about why, I suggested Akash to hurry as it is not that far and moved up after staying a while. On reaching top, our guide went back to catch and help Akash, though he had also reached on his own.

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Around 09:30, we all were at the pass, basking in the sun, congratulating ourselves for the all the efforts we made in past few days. We indulged ourselves in little celebration.

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Except for weather, it was an easy climb. The other side of pass also didn’t have much snow except on the slopes of higher mountains. The weather was now good and it was downhill all the way.

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We had planned to reach all the way to Sangla today so it was a long way to go. Stopping only to enjoy the view of valley in front of us we scurried downhill. Trail was clear and always visible, so everyone was walking at their own pace only to stop when we get separated and some confusing point was encountered. After few hours, when we reached the first village we were really hungry.

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Along the way, there were many apricot trees. We fed ourselves with the fallen ones and moved along. We had started feeling tired and more hungry walking through long village route. We even discussed if we can borrow some apples on the trees which was very tempting.

With the thought that Sangla is not very far, and we can have a sumptuous meal over there; we continued walking. By 14:30, we reached the city.

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After keeping our bags in a hotel of our guide’s acquaintance, we had a nice warm thali of dal, chawal, roti, sabzi (such a delight it is after so many days of good food).

So now it was time for all of us to bid happy goodbyes, while we were still deciding between staying one more day so as to visit Chitkul or to leave the same day but our guide wanted to leave on same day. So upon deciding to leave, we took a bus to Delhi in the evening and reached the next morning having one of the most blissful sleep the entire journey.