Places to visit in Manali

Rohtang Pass


Hiking the Himalayas

Reaching the ridge of a hill or a mountain pass is a lifetime experience. The journey is quite testing but the feeling of achievement is overwhelming after hiking the Himalayas. Care, courage, and determination are required to undertake this journey. One has to climb steep mountain slopes. Air is thinner and one can have breathing problems due to lack of oxygen. Every step is a ritual. Generally, people cross in groups.

Hiking the Himalayas

Health and fitness during hiking the Himalayas:

When trekking in the mountains you have to be your own doctor. You are the best judge on how you are feeling and if there is a problem what action should you take, either abort the trip or rest till conditions improves.

Hiking supplies during trekking:

Ideal hiking supplies to be carried which should be high calorie and there should be an optimum mixture of dry and juicy items. Biscuits, sandwiches, boiled eggs, chocolates, sweets, dry fruits, channa (gram) and gur (jaggery), and fruits that do not spoil like apples, oranges and juices are the right choice. For cooking on the campsite, the best is to carry readymade mixtures like instant porridges, noodles, soups and other dehydrated foods as these are easy to cook.

What to carry during hiking the Himalayas:

A number of items are must for all excursion trips, as these are the keys to survival in the wild. One must be clear on what is needed for the trip and what can be left. Many times trekkers pack extra things for safety, forced halt, injury, or inclement weather. However choice should be right as the extra weight becomes heavy on the back and is a hindrance on the hike. Items must be limited to those that are needed to keep one safe, dry, comfortable, and fed.

Hiking essentials:

All seasoned hikers and trekkers keep a list of essential and important hiking essential so as to avoid missing anything in hurry at the time of packing. Items needed for a trip depend on the type of terrain, kind of trail, number of days involved, time of the year, and number of persons. Below are some important hiking essentials:

  • Flashlight: Handheld flashlights (torches) are important.
  • Map and Compass: Carry a detailed topographical map of the area one is visiting in plastic covering. A compass is an essential tool for navigation and route finding.
  • Food for an emergency: Biscuits, dry fruits such as almonds, cashew nuts, groundnuts, raisins, and chocolates are ideal as emergency food.
  • Walking stick: A sturdy walking stick of proper length is essential on longer trails particularly those involving steep ascents and descents. It is of great use while crossing streams and walking on loose soil. It also helps in keeping dogs and other animals at bay.
  • Extra Clothing: Extra innerwear is valuable as next to the skin layer gets soaked due to perspiration after a long strenuous climb. It is essential to get rid of this wet layer before putting on thicker insulation of the sweater or a jacket in the evening. A thick hat or woolen balaclava cap would retain much heat in the body.
  • Goggles/ Sunglasses: Eyes are prone to damage by ultraviolet rays that are estimated to have fifty percent more effect on eyes at an altitude of 3050m that at sea level. On clear days the sky in the mountains is brilliant blue and sunshine and light reflecting off the snow are harmful.
  • First aid kit: First aid kit should be small, compact, and wrapped in waterproof packing. It should include basic medicines, band-aids, tapes, soap, scissors, gauge pads, bandages, crapes, glucose, oral rehydration salts, etc.
  • Pocket knife/ Swiss knife: Useful to cut fruits, open cans and bottles and for other purposes.
  • Matchbox: An emergency supply of matchbox packed in a watertight container must be carried on all trips in addition to the lighter.
  • Water bottle: Water bottles are a must as there is no water higher up in mountains in many trails or the water sources are few and far between.
  • Sunburn lotion/ cream: Sunlight at high altitudes has a burning capacity far more than at sea level.
  • Insect repellent: One must take precaution against insects, mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks as per requirement. Covering the body with clothes is the best practical method. In hot weather, insect repellent is a welcome replacement of clothes and there is no harm in carrying a bottle.
  • Repair Kit: Small repair kit consisting of sewing kit, wire, tape, and safety pins is a good idea to carry.
  • Hiking clothes: Pants, shirts, sweater, innerwear, trekking shoes, socks with an extra pair, poncho/ water-resistant windcheater, hat, and cap, gloves, rain pants are some important hiking clothes one must carry during trekking.
  • Some other items: Sleeping bag with an inner, groundsheet, toiletries, camera, and whistle.
  • Group items: Tent, repair kit, food, and cooking accessories, stove, fuel and accessories, pots, binoculars, altimeter.

How to deal with accidents and rescue during hiking the Himalayas:

The most common cause of accidents in trekking reported world over are: fall or slip on a rock, slip on snow or ice, falling rock, boulder, or stone. Negligence, carelessness, and casual attitude cause accidents many times. Leadership and discipline are key elements of success in rescue. It is essential to select a leader to take charge of an emergency. The leader should consider suggestions from other members of the party but his or her decisions must be accepted without arguments.

First of all, help the injured person immediately but move carefully to avoid further harm. Urgent first aid should include stopping bleeding, restoring breathing, relieving shock, immobilizing fractures. If it becomes necessary to move the victim to another spot because the accident site is too hazardous, be careful not to compound the injuries. After initial demands of safety and first aid are met the leader and the party must sit down and plan. Everything must be thought out to the very end, including what each person is to do under the circumstances. It is better to have a correct action than a swift one. Shortsightedness and the hasty decision can be more harmful and ineffective.

What to do when you are lost during hiking the Himalayas:

Getting lost can be a frightening experience. In some cases, you can reorient yourself quickly while at other times it may just be a short backtrack to find your trail. However, if you are totally lost keep following points in your mind:

  • Keep your cool and do not panic.
  • Take a break for food (snack) and water.
  • Use your map, compass, and altimeter to locate your positions and then plot your route.
  • In case of foggy weather proceed with extreme caution and use the maximum of your whistle in foggy conditions.
  • Try to reach a place where you get cell phone connectivity.

Setting camp during hiking the Himalayas:

The three important things for camping are below:

  • Water: Camp at a point where water is easily available. Camping too near a water source is also not recommended as wild animals come to drink water at night.
  • Shelter: Like procuring water, shelter is a high priority area. Generally, find shelter in a dry protected area there is less wind like a cave or a cliff base.
  • Fire: Fire has multipurpose functions. It is useful for warmth, cooking, boiling water, and signaling. Gather dry wood; make a low impact fire pit. Find a sheltered area free of wind and rain. Once you are finished douse fire with water or dirt. Scatter cold wet ashes.   

Travel tips for hiking the Himalayas:

  • Mental and physical fitness is essential to undertake a trek.
  • Talk to other trekkers and hikers who may give you practical insights. Go through reading material and books to know about the area where you are going.
  • Choose your partners wisely. They should have skills and mental and physical conditioning similar to yours.
  • Plan your route and leave it with someone. Allow for changes in the plan due to route weather conditions. Stay on established trails.
  • Be prepared to abandon the trip if weather, trail, or other conditions are not safe.
  • Stay within limits of yours and your partner’s skill, limits and do not take unnecessary risks.
  • Take regular breaks and stay hydrated and nourished.
  • Camp on established campsite wherever available. Do not camp on fragile meadows.
  • Use a camp stove instead of building a fire.
  • Dispose human waste away from water, trails and campsites.
  • Leave flowers, rocks, and other natural features undisturbed.
  • Keep wildlife healthy and self-reliant by not feeding them.
  • Do not make a noise and do not litter on the trail or at the campsite. Leave areas as you found them.

Hiking the Himalayas

Climate and trekking season:

The climate varies according to altitude and season. The temperature reaches 40 degrees in lower parts of the state during summers and below zero degrees in mountain region during winters. The trekking season for easy treks is from March to November. It also depends upon the time and amount of snowfall in winters.  

The Himalayas are a paradise for walkers, trekkers, hikers, skiers, rafters, climbers, and mountaineers. Innumerable treks originate or culminate in the beautiful hills and valleys throughout the state. Trekkers can enjoy unparalleled beauty on these trails. Most of the trails are safe and defined. Many of the mountain passes do not require technical skills or mountaineering equipment. There are countless trails that are easy even for the inexperienced.

List of some treks around Manali and its surrounding:

Dashaur Lake Trek

Manimahesh Lake Trek

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