Imagine a wood cottage beside the river, a tower like fort in the mountains, a snow covered pass and a frozen lake. Well, all this was there and more when I left for Jibhi in Himachal.
My decided company was to be V who is becoming my latest travel partner (after being to the Deserts and Moonlake together). An hour before he was supposed to land in Delhi and we were to leave, I got a call from my erstwhile travel partner and friend D. It’d been a long time since we’d traveled together and she was excited. We met at CP(Connaught Place) and then left for ISBT together. The bus was quick on time but the driver was slow. For Aut we’d to get down before the tunnel on the way to Manali but none of us was quick to point out to the driver. However, it was a better decision when we got down at the bus stand. D got a chance to have paneer pakodas and it was convenient for us to get a bus to Banjar. That dream like house beside the river was seen on this route. After we reached Banjar, we took another bus for Jibhi. It took us sometime to find a path to the place we wanted to stay( Latoda hut and pinewood guesthouse).
It was off season and there weren’t any guests. The owner tried to drive us away because carpenters were working but the place had its charm for me and we convinced him to arrange for our stay. We were tired and so after freshening up we just took rest for a while, except D who was eager to go for a walk. Sometime later we did take a walk towards Bahu.
The tiring day resulted in a peaceful sleep during night after bonfire and some vodka.
I woke up a little early than usual. And the lesson learnt- check the water supply before you go the toilet; not just the flush but the taps too. Early morning tea gave some relief from the chilling cold and energy to walk by the river.
We decided to walk to the Chehni fort. First we took a shared jeep till Chiladhar from where we were to walk.
The walk till the Shringa Rishi temple was on a concrete road and from there we got a little lost but found our help too. We were told by a local working on the rocks faraway that we were to follow the electricity cables. Slow and steady we reached the fort.
There was no food so chocolates came to the rescue. There seemed to be an open school there in the open space. D was at her usual self having fun with the kids and entertaining V and I.
After we return another evening of bonfire and vodka follow and we sat till midnight waiting for D’s birthday.
It was D’s birthday the next day and a cake had been arranged graciously. We retired to our room waiting for lost sleep and chatted till we fall asleep.
The next morning V and I walked to the waterfall nearby while D got ready for the day.
We’d decide to reach Shojha and from there to Jalori and then trek to Serolsar lake. The bus to Jalori pass(8:30 and 9:30am) had already been missed and so we started walking in the hope of getting a shared jeep or a lift. We did manage to get a lift after a while and the uncle asked us if the 3 dogs following us were also to be offered a lift. We reached Shojha but decided to get down at Jalori and then walk the way back. At Jalori pass we had our tea and then started walking towards the lake at a distance of 5kms.
The snow covered path was a trial run for my new trekking shoes which did pass the test. After doubts and deliberations whether we were on the right path or not we finally met a guy walking back from the lake and who also took a picture of the three of us together.
Continuing walking we reached the little dhaba where we had tea and V and I slide down in snow from higher up. Walking further we suddenly saw the frozen lake. I almost ran towards it to have a closer look. One of my wish had come true. The parikrama (circumambulation) path around the lake was covered with snow midway and so V and I walked some way and then climbed upwards to rest in shade. D followed us at her own slow pace taking help of our footprints in the snow.
I lied down while V smoked at a distance and D continued her blabber. A group of men reached after a while and we got up to begin our way back to the pass. It was already 3pm and the weather was changing. When we reached the viewpoint it was starting to snow. I sat there waiting for it to get heavier. And it did a little later when it seemed like a snowstorm. I was turning to be extraordinarily lucky for another wish was coming true.
We reached Jalori pass and had tea and omelettes while the sun was setting. The only place available for night stay at the pass didn’t have a toilet and that led me to decide to take a car till Shojha and stay there for the night.
That proved to be a wise decision given the troubles in the night after the two drinks I’d had. The sleeplessness gave me a chance to see more of stars though. I slept till late in utter disregard of the plan. After our late breakfast we started walking to Jibhi.
After a walk till Ghiyagi we got a lift for the rest of the way till Jibhi. Back to the best place to stay in Jibhi, we had tea(which we did not pay for).
Meanwhile, D was busy finding out information about the trout fish. And then we left, walking again, taking another shared car till Chiladhar from where we walked till Banjar.
I soon realized that the dreamlike house was on the way from Aut to Banjar and not from Jibhi to Banjar and even though I got a window seat in the return bus, I failed to get a picture.
Once at Banjar, D finally got the mountain momos,which weren’t that yummy. We ate and got bus tickets for Kullu. In search of dinner, I walked the market streets of Kullu for the first time; and even in getting back to the bus stand we got lost and found our way back asking for help now and then. The bus reached Delhi on time and I spent the rest of the day sleeping. It’s been two days and the changed Delhi weather is giving me mountain feels. I’m still missing walking by the river and the snowfall.