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Just about every destination in Himachal offers the possibility of day hikes where you may leave in the morning and return by evening. Shorter walks are also possible in practically every place. These may not require the elaborate gear of longer treks but certain basic things must be kept in mind
Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and if you are taking one of the more rugged paths then something with a good grip on the ankles is recommended.
Carry some water and a little snack
An umbrella or a raincoat should be carried especially in the monsoons
Prepare for a little drop in temperature after sundown and wear or carry suitable clothes
Sunscreen lotion, dark glasses and head gear are optional
On the nature rambles do not leave the trail or spur unless you are very sure of where you are going - distances and directions could be deceptive.
Himachal's main trekking areas are the Dhauladhar and the Pir Panjal ranges routes over the passes between Shimla region and the Kullu valley. The numerous treks out of Kullu and select tracks in the Trans Himalayan regions of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti. Most trekking areas are between 1,500 meters and 6,000 metres.
With well over 270 defined trails the variation in terrain and the experience they offer are also enormous. Low scrub land and paths through paddy fields give way to trails strewn with pine needles. Then come woods of oak and flowering rhododendron, which merge into forests of Himalan cedar deodar and spruce. On most trails small pastoral hamlets dot the way. Cunningly hidden between the mountains are the passes that were once known only to dare all traders and the migrant shepards of the area. Some lead to the fabulous wastes and swiftly flowing rivers of the arid Trans Himalaya. A host of combinations and variations take the trails through the changing countryside.
There are several agencies that conduct treks and may be contacted for complete trekking packages. Training facilities with basic and intermediate courses are available at Manali's mountaineering Institute and its regional centres at Dharamshala and Bharmaur. Excellent camping facilities are also set up here.
Trekking equipment checklist
Comfortable walking shoes with a good grip on the ankles
Water proof warm jackets
Woollen/tennis socks and stockings
Sunglasses, Headgear Rucksack and other bags too if you plan to hire porters or ponies
Swiss army knife
Sleeping bag and foam ground sheet
Gloves, umbrella, rope
Medical and first aid kit
Torch and batteries
Tent, compass, binoculars
Cooking equipment - food and ration
Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and milk are rarely in short supply along the trails apart the higher reaches and parts of the Trans Himalaya.
Camping is perhaps one of the easiest ways of enjoying the wonders of nature in Himachal and sharing the warm hospitality of the people. You may carry your own gear and pitch or your own camp or even opt for the orgainsed camps that lie across the state. The orgainsed camps offer accomodation, catering and a variety of activities like hikes, fishing, nature tours, rock climbing and river rafting.
Spring (May/June)- You would get lots of snow but roads are at worst, lots and lots of tourists and obviously a costly trip with escalated price.
Monsoon (July/Aug) - Ladakh/Lahaul/Spiti is historically there is no rain but traffic is high.
Autumn (Sep/Oct) - Roads are at the best but almost no snow enroute. Weatherwise I like this season personally the most, the weather after monsoon recedes remain crystal clear with least haze/dust/mist and gives excellent visibility for watching peaks.
Winter (Nov-April) - At your own risk without any tourists, excellent bargain and budget trip is likely. Also for special interest tours like say Chaddar trek of Zanskar, this is the time to go.