Altitude, Altitude, Altitude – When you are discovering the Himalayas, it is probably the next most important word after Attitude, Attitude, Attitude!
In my earlier post, https://wanderingtalestraveldreams.com/2017/10/23/exploring-sangla-himachal-step-by-step/, I outlined how we explored Thanedar and Sangla in Himachal. I also mentioned how for the first time we participated in guided hikes. In this post, I would like to delve deeper into the hiking experience hoping it might give you some ideas on how to plan them effectively.
Thanedar is close to Simla and is located in the lower Himalayas. HOWEVER, altitude wise, it is located a bit higher than some of the neighbouring, more well known towns including Shimla, Chail, Manali, etc. Regular breathing is not difficult and so it is very easy to get carried away by the “let’s explore the hill station as much as possible” attitude. With proper preparation, this is completely possible.
Important Note: Locally made fruit wines are readily available in Thanedar. You can have a great time enjoying them, especially in the evenings, sitting by the bonfire. BUT, this means that your ability to handle changes in altitude during hikes will also be affected. So, if you plan to go on hikes in Thanedar, minimise the amount of alcohol consumed. Just a suggestion : )
Three guided hikes in Thanedar
As I mentioned in my previous post, we stayed at the Banjara Orchard Resort in Thanedar and they offer guided hikes as part of your stay package.
Hike 1 – Thanedar resort to St. Mary’s Church (Morning – about 2 1/2 hours – Easy)
This is a relatively easy introduction to formal hiking in the Himalayas. From the resort you have an opportunity to walk through a little village before you start walking on a trail. The winding trail gives you opportunities to view beautiful vistas and also allows you to soak in the energy from the tall trees around you every where. At one point on the trail, you can walk down a narrow path and arrive at a small cave before heading back up and walking the rest of the route. At the end of the trail is a church where you have an opportunity to see how the local folks live their day to day lives. Generally, you can have your transport pick you up near the church and bring you back to the resort.
Hike 2 – Thanedar resort to Tani-Jubbar Lake (Afternoon – about 2 1/2 hours – Medium difficulty for beginners)
After lunch, we took a short rest before heading out on our second hike for the day. We started the hike climbing up a narrow path and walking through a village. For someone like me who is not as fit as I should be, the initial climb was difficult. A part of me wanted to turn back but my kids were very excited, so we decided to continue. I will be honest, I was the slowest of the lot. Within a short timeframe, we had 150 m elevation change… which can be significant at 2400 m… Most of the folks were not affected, but, I managed to develop a mild headache. So the motto was – walk slowly and take a lot of breaks. We walked through narrow paths and wide paths, gentle inclines and steep inclines along with flat ground. While most of the path was surrounded by tall trees, there were breaks where we were able to enjoy gentle streams in the midst of meadows. At certain points, the views of the valleys below were mesmerising. About 2 1/2 hours later we reached our end point – the little lake. To be honest, the lake itself was disappointing… and so we did not spend too much there and instead returned to the resort via car. However, the walk itself was amazing…. In retrospect, I am happy I tried it. Having guides with us certainly was a blessing.
Hike 3 – Hatu Peak (Morning – about 4 hours – Medium difficulty for beginners)
As I mentioned in my previous post that outlines the itinerary, only half our group went on this hike while the rest of us enjoyed the resort facilities. What I am writing below is the information provided by them as I did not go on this particular hike.
The climbing difficulty was similar to Hike 2 with a few more dramatic inclines. The meadows they discovered along the way were spectacular. Because it was a guided hike with knowledgeable guides, they were also able enjoy the edible wild berries (please be very careful — not all berries are edible!) and enjoy fresh, clear stream water. Due to the elevation change, it did take some time for them to reach Hatu Peak. The rest of us joined them at the top with lunch in hand (yes…. you can drive up to the top! Luckily (or unluckily for those who hiked) the area was filled with dense clouds on that particular day, so the views were not as spectacular as they could have been. The guides told us that in the Himalayas, weather & luck is everything — it can reveal or hide spectacular mountain views. Luck did eventually grace us: while having lunch, the clouds suddenly parted ways as we enjoyed amazing views of mountain tops.
To experience altitude you do not have to go deep into the Himalayas. In retrospect, I was surprised to learn that we experienced much higher altitudes closer to Shimla than we did closer to Manali. Of course, the mountain views are very different. The sharp peaks in Manali are very different than the range in Thanedar. In Thanedar, the apple orchards and views of the valleys are unbeatable. You really get a chance to chill at the resorts while enjoying nature at its best. Since the atmosphere is so laid back, you can’t help but enjoy and relax. My only advise is: walk everyday and climb stairs whenever you can during your daily routine…. you won’t regret it when you vacation in the Himalayas!