With all the preparations, training and guidance, the first day of trekking to Sarpass started at base camp kasol towards the first higher camp Guna pani. When our group started the trekking, there was rain. But whatever the situation, the first day will not be cancelled unless and otherwise there is a very serious issue. Trekkers will be given the traditional way of best wishes from other group members while leaving. The group is supposed to leave the base camp exactly at 8.30am. The initial journey is through bus from the base camp itself upto Unchdhar. Trekkers have to be ready at the bus stop at the base camp until the bus arrives. The normal time of the bus is 9.00am. It may not be possible for all the trekkers to get a seat in the bus. It is a normal practice to climb the bus and sit on the top. We waited nearly 20minutes for the bus. We took tickets individually and the amount can be claimed on return by producing this ticket.
The bus passes through Manikaran and other places to reach Unchdhar. We reached this place at 9.55am. The green valley and hills followed by snow covered peaks can be seen as soon as we get down from the bus. At this place, we found children selling sticks which helps trekkers. Each stick costed INR 5. We found this stick very helpful during our entire trek. At some point of time when we were missing the stick we used to feel as if we are handicapped loosing an orgain from our body. This place is very scenic giving a vast view of valley which covers greenery and snow capped mountains. Sarpass is not visible from this place. But the mountains which are after Guna pani are visible. A small hut is seen at the road side where nobody stays. This we considered as a landmark of our actual starting point towards Sarpass.
The initial trekking is to descend from the road beside the hut. We never expected that we had to descend during our trekking. Infact we were searching the trekking path after getting down from the bus. We had a boy who introduced himself as the guide for the group upto Guna pani. The descending path is very steep with narrow way with bushes. We immediately realized the importance of the stick. The path was with lot of steep bends. The bottom most place was a small bridge constructed over a small water flow which is a tributory for Parvati river. While we can see the water flow to the left, to the right the water looks stagnated but later it flows further down the way. We took 25 minutes to reach this place. Next part of the trekking is climbing the hill. We took a deep breath once the climbing started.
A little forward, we met the Pradhan of Shilla village and some kids selling the same sticks. Surprisingly the cost of each stick became INR 10 here. We observed many Himalayan dogs along with the kids. Some kids were asking biscuits and other eatables from us. Many of us gave some part of the dry eatables which YHAI gave during starting of the trek. We came across many villagers, mainly ladies who work in the field around Shila village. We observed they are very co operative for taking photographs. After a little more climbing and turning back, we could see the valley on the other side of the road we travelled and also the hut where we got down from the bus. The way became very narrow and steep for further climbing. In our group, few members suffered with vomitting mainly due to gastric problems. We were blessed with a doctor in our group and a quick medication was available whenever anybody faced such problems. Most of the trekkers stopped talking among them to store energy for steep climbing. On further climbing we found Shila village. We reached Shila village at 11.03am, almost one hour after getting down from the bus.
We were near the houses which we saw from Unchdhar, the starting point of this part of the trek. We observed many village ladies asking for the necessity of any porters. As this was at an initial stage of the trek, nobody from our group took any porters. The charge for porters varies depending on which part of the trek they are to be available. As we gain height, they charge more. The costliest being for the Sarpass crossing. Trekkers who really need porters have to do bargaining properly. During May, when the Sarpass trek is organized by YHAI, these people earn quite a good amount of money through this job. Trekkers who perform the trek mainly for photography, take the help of these porters to carry their luggages. But, YHAI is not responsible for anything going bad during such instances due to porters.
Our trekking continued in the rain. The way was very slippery making further difficult to climb. The rain sheets were really helping a lot. On turning back, the road where we travelled and got down, looked like a thin line. There are so many spoiled huts in this area. The landscape is good but we could not take much photographs as it was raining. Around 11.55am we reached our first tea cum lunch point. There is a small water flow beside the tea point. Some village people put up a tent to make tea. We took our lunch here as the rain was less. The place was not that good due to rain to sit but there were some stones which were useful for sitting. After a break of 10 minutes, we started the trekking. The rain continued further. The area became denser with Pine trees and the surrounding was not visible at all. There is nothing for photographers to shoot after the lunch point.
After 45 minutes of climbing, we saw the banner welcoming the trekkers on the right side of the trekking route. It was heavily raining when we reached this place. On further crossing a small plain ground, we saw tents of our camp site Guna paani located in a plain area below the trekking path. We reached Guna panni at 1.05pm. Though it was not a strenuous trek, due to rain the trek became somewhat difficult. The way to reach the camp at the last moment was totally wet due to rain making the path very slippery.