How to cross ice-cold streams – Hampta Pass

The water is icy cold in the stream, the water levels coming up to your mid-calf and knee. There are no make shift bridges or boulders to cross the river and the stones inside the water are slippery. Your feet are going to go numb with cold. But there is no escaping out. This is a sneak preview of what Hampta trek has in store for you. Hampta trek is an easy trek, so you were told. But this in no way looks easy, so what do you do?

“Just take the plunge. There is no point dilly dallying or making a hue and cry over crossing a river. The more you resist, the more difficult it is to cross the water,” says Shikha Bass a trekker of June 22 batch. Tying her shoes around her neck she dipped her toes in to the gushing stream. She slipped once, got bruised and her progress was slow. Yet she egged on. “You know the water is stinging cold and your feet are going to go numb. You also feel like getting out of the water instantly but it is all temporary. And this is what makes the situation bearable,” explains Shikha.

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Karishma Thakkar, a first time trekker to Hampta pass too found herself in similar predicament. She describes it as an exciting experience. “For the first five minutes when I dipped my toes in the ice cold water it was sheer terror, as the legs became cold and numb,” says Karishma. But what made the cold bearable was the team along with her.” We all held hands, moving slowly one by one and we sang songs while crossing the river. The songs definitely deviated us from feeling the cold,” says Karishma cheerfully. After the river crossing all the team members jumped up and down for five minutes to restore the warmth back in their legs. “This was complete fun,” she adds.

So forming a human chain helps. But it has its downsides too. “People in front of you and behind you keep pulling or pushing you. So there are chances of stumbling,” mentions Shikha.

Divya Asnani of 27th July batch, on the other hand had a not so pleasant experience crossing the stream. She fell in to the water. “Though the guy on the other side held my leg, I was completely wet. For the first 10 minutes I was totally numb and it felt like ants were biting my leg and I could not even think of walking.” She was in front of a small chain of people with no support and the rocks were slippery. With water coming up to her knees she could not find her balance. It was raining too and the experience left her totally wet. Rather than being mad she chose to keep walking till her camp site.

Trekking poles are not much help either. Shikha says,” It cannot be used as a support. In a fully gushing stream you cannot see where to put the pole and you may end up putting it on a slippery surface.”

In the end what helps is the preparedness of the mind. This thought resonates with Shikha when she says,” Our guide told us that the success of a trekking is more to do with our state of mind than physical fitness.”

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This thought is difficult to maintain though. “When the day is cold and rainy and your clothes are already wet the first thought when you see a stream is ‘Oh shucks, I have to cross a stream.’ You will definitely find ways to avoid it without wetting your shoes,” says Karishma.

“But there is no place to escape. So just brace yourself. You will lose your confidence as you slip and stumble on water or snow but all this is a part of the trekking experience,” says Shikha.

Who knows, all that stumbling and falling may make you all the more sure about yourself in the end.

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Usha Hariprasad

Usha Hariprasad

Usha Hariprasad is a freelance writer and has worked with Citizen Matters, Alternative and Indus Ladies writing about travel and green living. She worked in the IT field for 5 years before deciding to follow her passion for writing. She is now part of the content and tech team at Indihahikes.

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