First solo trip and first trek in the Himalayas. Every trip I take or plan is awaited eagerly but going alone certainly threw in a bit of anxiety to the mix with this one!

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Trip Details
Places visited: McLeod Ganj, Triund, Ilaqa, Delhi, Dharamshala
Year: 2016
Month: June
Number of people: Solo
Accommodation: Technically none
Total expenditure: INR 5046 (travel+food+zero acco)
INR 9335 (equipment)
Weather: Extremely wet and around 10 degrees at nights.

Equipment Details
Click for reviews:

  1. Salomon X-Scream
  2. Quenchua Arpenaz 2 Tent
  3. Quenchua Forclaz 10* Hiking Sleeping Bag
  4. Quenchua Fleece Jacket
  5. Quenchua Rain coat
  6. Wildcraft Gangotri 65L Rucksack
  7. Selfie stick
  8. Clothes: Nothing specific, comfortable clothes. Gym half pants for the climb and track pants elsewhere.
  9. Lighters, knife
  10. First aid kit:
    Must contain Diamox, Dexamethasone, paracetamol, Disprin, cotton lint, crepe bandage, pain relievers, Volini spray.
  11. Sunscreen

Plan Details
This was a topsy turvy one with the trip not proceeding according to the initial plan. This here is the trip as it was conceived…

Dharamshala Trek
The original plan “A”

But this is what actually materialised…

Dharamshala Actual Trek
Actual itinerary as it panned out!

Transport
I avoided flying for the dread of boredom and missing out on the splendour of scenes of the monsoon advancing up the subcontinent. This saved a ton of money and it gave me memories to cherish that I couldn’t have found in a flying tube with wings.

It was a classic trade-off between… oh what am I saying? I’d prefer trains even if people paid me to travel by air! The problem with trains, I admit, is the fatigue. This doesn’t pertain to me because I sleep like a baby in trains . Some others however find it difficult to sleep in trains and being sleep deprived before trekking is a bad idea as I found out later.

The plan initially to take a train to Dharamshala’s nearest rail head, Pathankot turned out to be a no go because my ticket was still waitlisted. But then it turned out that Dharamshala could be reached by bus in as much time as it took a train to reach Pathankot.

Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation workers had announced a strike on the days I was counting on their services. After facing a ‘stranded in Delhi’ kind of situation, I realised that Haryana Road Transport Corporation had direct buses to Dharamshala. The 12 hour bus journey was torture of the highest order. To make things worse, I sprayed my meagre dinner of a sandwich along the road leading to my destination. Cramped and leg space snatched by my rucksack, I sat statuesque staring into steady mountain rain.

I took the same bus back to Delhi, same 12 hour ordeal minus the throwing up. But I had boarded the bus just 5 hours after trekking 12 km down the mountain path. Nothing mattered anymore, my body forcibly took the rest it needed ignoring the bus’s repeated and desperate pleas to not fall asleep.

Accommodation and Food
I wanted this trip to be extremely low cost and hence refrained from booking hotel rooms and needless luxury lunches. The only money I paid for accommodation was the INR 200 to Ladies Venture Guesthouse where I used the dormitory bed to get a short nap and the bathroom facility (and hot water).

I plan my trips such that I spend nights travelling to cut down the need for seeking a roof over my head. This adds to fatigue but is leaves your wallet significantly fatter than otherwise.

Since I travelled in a Duronto, food was supplied throughout the duration of the journey. Plenty of liquid intake in Delhi and a samosa before the bus journey and a sandwich for dinner which I threw up later. Tea to begin the day at Dharamshala and momos – which make you feel heavier in the tummy as well as the money purse – before the trek! Parle-G and Maggi for the trek. The most expensive food I had was a reward for completing the trek, at Zomsa. I had the Tibetan Thali just to get a taste of the local flavours.

Preparation
A solo trek or even a solo travel is no mean feat and if your backpack weighs one-fifth your weight, you ought to prepare for it. Walking interspersed with spurts of jogging for at least a month is what I recommend. If you can do more then you must. Another key thing to keep in mind is that some shoes may need some breaking in so it is advisable to wear them during the training period.

AMS and other altitude sicknesses are a serious hazard to someone trekking alone. I took Diamox at 12 hour intervals right from Delhi. No side effects were observed other than slightly increased water uptake.

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