Trek Day 3 – Shilt to Rolla Hut (Trek 8 kms/ 4 – 5 hrs)
Day 3 as planned originally, was supposed to be a rest day with minimal trek activities and more of exploration and bird watching around the place. However, we were unsure about spending the day at Shilt, as we did not find much to do the earlier day and minimal water access did not seem inviting. Also one of our team mates, was unwell and preferred to trek back to the cottage. So we all decided to go back to Rolla Hut.
The trek downwards was faster, as expected. We took in the breathtaking landscapes all over again. It was blissful to be surrounded by wilderness … a feeling altogether different when the only sound you hear around you is that of your breath and of your footstep.
The way back though faster, was tougher on rocky terrains. It was especially telling on the knees . My knees gave way about half a km before we reached Rolla and I almost fell inadvertently a few times just before we reached our tents.
However, we made it back in good time and then chilled out by the Tirthan riverside. I spent some time with our guide Karan from Rajus cottage, to understand more about the place. Trekking at GHNP has just picked up over the last few years. People around in the villages usually do agriculture. They also serve as part time guides, porters and do all odd jobs during the peak vacation seasons. Popular activities here are cycling, trekking, fishing and camping.
One interesting thing we observed at Rolla was, occasionally we would spot some folks running down with huge sacks on them. Apparently there is a therapeutic root called “Nagchatri” that grows in these regions. Though it is illegal to remove these herbs , some villagers do sneak in somehow and stuff them into these sacks. Its big money for them when they sell it. So finding labour during peak seasons gets tough apparently as many of them indulge in this.
As for the habitat, musk deers, mountain goats and leopards are apparently spotted sometimes. Its haven to many birds like the Monal, Western Tragopan, Koklas, Flycatchers, Blue Whistling Thrush, Pulumbus water red star and many more. Apricots, raspberries, apples and cherries are a delicious delight you find on the roadsides.
Trek Day 4 – Rolla Hut to Goshaini (Trek 11 kms/ 4 – 5 hours)
As per our revised plan, this was meant to be the rescheduled rest day. But then, we woke up to a rather chilly and misty morning. By breakfast it started drizzling. It certainly did not look like an inviting proposition to be stuck to your tents when its raining around you. Also there was this scary prospect of a heavy rain ruining your tents. So, we took out the only piece of accessory that hadnt’ come to use so far….the rain gear. We headed out in batches, from Rolla Hut to Rajus Cottage, that is, to the starting point. We also thanked our stars, for getting back to Rolla hut, the previous day as it would have been awfully tough to navigate from Shilt during rains.
It was certainly a slippery slithery experience. I watched my every step with extra caution. I did not mind being the last trekker. My husband stayed by me and we thoroughly enjoyed this lovely trek on that rainy day. The lush greens just looked much greener. The gushing waters under the bridges were noisier than before. Unfortunately, we could not capture camera shots of the beauty we witnessed. There were moments, when I felt, ‘if you could feel God’s presence, it is here’. Strange for me, to feel that way, but it stuck to my mind.
The rains sort of expedited the entire trek back. In a way, it was best that way. We were all focused on reaching the cottage as soon as possible, than to get stuck in the tracks. It was also getting obvious that many of the trek trails can get completely washed away after a reasonably good rain.
We made it to the Cottage by lunchtime. From then on, it was all about unwinding, drying some wet clothes and generally chilling out. Raju’s cottage incidentally is a family owned place. With just a handful of people, they manage the entire activities. It is not like a hotel, so one cannot expect things like room service. Food is good. However, you need to get to the dining area during the specific breakfast, lunch and dinner times. The place is beautiful and adorned by a lot of butterflies, birds, trees and flowers. Adequate spaces available for bonfires too. They do have cycles for biking and conduct trek camps. Most popular and sought out camps are the one day camps or a one night, two days trek camps. Serious trekkers camp for 7 to 10 days where they go further up from Shilt to the source of the River Tirthan.
So, all is well that ends well and our trekking expedition at GHNP ended thus.