With most of the cascades suffering from heavy snow syndrome , I felt lucky to have had a trip planned to India. After all, if you can’t hike in your own mountains, why not head to the Himalayas and grab some incredible views. Getting to Manali was in and of itself a harrowing journey.
The road up to the town is bare dirt and congested to the max with drivers swerving around each other. To add to the nightmare there were cows blocking both “lanes” and monkeys running across the path. I can say that I felt overwhelmed by the difference in life and landscape that I was witnessing. Which made the whole drive affect me far less than the return trip would.
Once we had arrived in the townsite I was immediately taken by how incredible the landscape is. There is towering peaks in every direction reaching heights of 13,000 feet and up. My brain was trying so hard to wrap around the fact that this area is just the foothills of the Himalayas. I have seen so many photos of this part of the world but to view it was an astonishing experience.
Of course that means the first thing I could think is “where can I go hiking/”. After a brief discussion with the guy running our hostel he sent me to a small shop called Himalayan Yeti. He said I could rent all the gear and they would take care of the transport. I did check them out, but, one of my group mates Rewandt was friends with the hostel caretaker. He convinced him to take us for a short hike on on a hill nearby.
The caretaker said that the trails name is Lion King Rock and is only a quick 30 minute run up the hill. He also promised there would be no snow. I felt excitement to hear this since I had not brought any of my hiking gear. I figured this was my ticket to an easy hike in sneakers and jeans without adding cost to the trip.
The trail began easy enough with some simple walking along roads to get above the townsite. But, after this the trail began to turn to icy snow. While dismayed, I wasn’t having any trouble walking along. So, I pressed forward thinking it might get better.
For the rest of the people with me the day was playing out much worse. There was a lot of slipping, sliding and a few brief falls. This lead some of the group to decide the trail was not for them. I know they could see the excitement in my eyes since they encouraged me to keep on going. We agreed where to meet them back in town, and I continued on along with Rewandt and the caretaker.
In the back of my mind I kept hoping that the snow would abate and the sneakers I was wearing wouldn’t end up soaked. The weather midday was a balmy -10C . Alas, the snow continued all the way up.
I wish there was more to say about the hike, but, the honest reality is that the hike itself was underwhelming. It winds through some trees (accompanied by mud and snow) as it climbs the small hill. For the majority of it I had an acute focus on my breathing as a result of being at around 7,000ft.