Hiking with kids is an adventure in itself. More so when they are as young as four-year old. Even more when the hike ascends a thousand meters and you have to descend the very same day. The adventure then turns into a task to be completed, though later on you always remember it fondly. Trek to Sangla Kanda from Sangla in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh was one such adventure. In fact, it is the best thing to do when in Sangla.
Sangla is a small town in lower Kinnaur, situated at the banks of Baspa river, which is a tributary of Satluj river. Sangla valley is considered to be one among the most beautiful valleys of Himachal. Nourished by meandering Baspa and overlooked by the saw-toothed, rugged, and divine range of Kinner Kailash, valley is rich with fruit orchards of apple, cherry, apricots and pear. Its people are mainly Hindus with visible Buddhist influences. The people have sharp facial features, fair color and mountain legs. Their houses, made of wood and stone, are two storied with sloping roofs.
People mainly stop at Sangla to visit Chitkul and then move on to Kalpa and then to Lahul-Spiti. But the town commands more than a stop-over. There are many interesting things to do in Sangla and the best among these is to go for a day hike to Sangla Kanda.
Kanda is the name given to pastures at high altitude. Sangla Kanda is the pastures of people of Sangla town, where they have their orchards and farms. Sangla town is at 2700 mtrs and Sangla Kanda is at an altitude of 3600 meters.
We were there for four days and asked locals for some easy hikes to do with young kids. They suggested us for Rakcham valley trek and Sangla Kanda trek. Sangla kanda trek was a two hour trek for locals going up and an hour coming back. We knew that we do not have that agility but were sure of doing that in double the time. As for difficulty level, they said that their kids go everyday and come down and it is an easy trek barring a few difficult sections.
We did not know the altitude gain at that time for we had not planned any such trekking. With a gain of 1000 meters in a day and then coming back the same day, that too with a four year old was going to be a tough task. Ignorance is bliss. Is it? Read on..
The hike started with passing through the Bering Nag temple in the village and then crossing the village to reach the bridge on the Baspa river. The bridge and the water were enough to keep the young trekker glued there. He wanted to throw pebbles in the river. With great difficulty and many tricks we made him move.
After crossing the Baspa when we looked back, our jaws dropped in awe for the town was cradled in the towering snow peaks under the true blur sky, something like a Swiss setting albeit in the Kinner Kailash range.
The path took us to the school grounds where kids were playing cricket. The youngest trekker who was just four then, stood his ground to keep viewing the game. It took some bribes to make him move. Further on the way and blue pines made their appearance. It was a pleasant surprise for there were no blue pines on the other side of Baspa. Blue pines shimmered in the sunlight and gentle breeze caressed them lightly. Ascend became steeper now and sticks were searched on the spot for everyone. A waterfall was there in the valley below, hidden among the tall trees, but making its presence known by the roar.
The youngest trekker stopped again, demanding that we all go to the waterfall. It took mighty efforts to convince him of a big water body at the end of the trek. This ‘give and take’, bribery and many such other parenting and child’ing techniques continued incessantly.
Another hour of climb, and the youngest gave up. His father had to lift him up and I had to carry all the bags and a bulky DSLR too. DSLR is a liability when you are trekking with kids, carrying their clothes, food, water and many bribe items. It became too difficult to carry on. We thought of returning. But the guide assured us that it would not take too long now.
We asked,” how long?”.
“Half an hour”, replied he.
So after a brief rest, we continued again. The Kinner Kailash range was visible in their full glory in 180 degree view. This whole trek is a ‘viewpoint’ to view this divine range in close proximity. Sangla Kanda is also the base point for the difficult Rupin Pass trek, which opens into Uttarakhand.
Twenty minutes later, a steep ascend of the uneven steps stared at us. One look and we decided to return. It was difficult to make the young trekker climb it. Again the guide assured us-“Sir, after this climb, we are almost there.” We stopped for a small energy break. Father and young trekker went on with guide and my elder son was given the responsibility to keep my spirits up. I was not feeling short of breath. My legs were not aching. But I was not feeling well. I didn’t know then what was ailing me, but the fever next day revealed everything.
After this very difficult climb of half an hour, we were almost at the level of snow peaks. So close that we could touch if we stretched our hands. Where was the energy to even stretch the hands after this sapping, back-breaking and knee-dislocating climb.
Again the same question. ” How long Bhai?”
“Just half an hour”, pat came the reply.
“You have been saying half an hour for so long.” We were just short of shouting on him.
“You will like it very much sir. Just half an hour and we are there.”
Not that we were not liking the trek. There were Grosbeaks and finches, and vultures were flying below us as we were on such high elevation. Chuli trees were laden with flowers and making a ‘Chuli blossom’ in the shadow of white snow of Kinner Kailash.
Guide successfully persuaded us to move on and we reached the pastures. Farms were ready to be sown. People were busy either tilling or sowing.
Rain clouds gathered and we took shelter in a hut and finished our lunch with the best ‘fine dining’ setting. Rain forced us to stay a little longer and it did help us to re-energize and it kept younger trekker busy playing with rain. He was now in a happier mode.
The trek from here was all besides the snow. Treeline was fast disappearing. Wind was becoming stronger and the temperature colder. Twenty minutes and we reached at the end of our trek. There it was: a blue lake, its waters rippling by wind. Kids ran away to the lake to throw pebbles and feel the water. The youngest trekker was not tired anymore. We both held hands and smiled to each other and just slumped there. Kids called us and we too joined them.
Elder kid wanted to trek to the Glacier ahead which guide said to be at half an hour’s distance. This ‘half an hour’ phrase alarmed us and we refused considering the age of youngest trekker. We promised to elder kid that as soon as the young-ling grows up, we will trek to some Glacier. Promise was kept by trekking to Kareri Lake in Dhauladhar range, when younger one turned seven.
Read About Kareri Lake trek here.
The return journey was not so arduous as youngest trekker kept on jumping, hopping happily. Not that this trek put us on a slower mode. Next year, when young trekker turned five, we did even more arduous day hike to Double-decker root bridges in Meghalaya.
Read about double-decker root bridge trek here.
Because all is well that ends well!