1/31/14

Trail Running in the Mountains of Shimla (Countryside)

Mountain Trail Running

Mountain Trail Running is perhaps the most fitness demanding sport in the world. For most seasoned runners it is beyond a sport or a hobby. It is a conversation between Mother Nature and the Runner.

Here are a couple of short and longer trails meant for hiking or running. One can cycle them as well if experienced and fit.

1) The Mahasu Ridge Line: Skirting the Shimla Water Catchment sanctuary and the Oberoi Wildflower Hall, nature on this one hour trail oozes a sense of soothing on the times that once were. Within the walk one is able to enjoy a carpet of wild strawberries; the waterfall like sound that echoes amongst the Cedars; a host of wild ferns; wild flowers to match every season; and maybe even come across a barking deer or two. This is one for the senses…
(Duration of Run: A 30 minute burst from our location. Grading: Easy)

2) The Cedar-Oak Vintage Trail: The trail initially follows from the lodge through the tarmac to the nearby    Helipad: a hillock with a 360- degree striking view. This vantage point provides a grand view of the reserved forest mushrooming all over and one is furthermore able to glimpse parts of the Shimla town and the National Highway(22) leading to our village coupled with the Grand view of the closer by mountains and the Himalayan ranges. From the helipad, one blissfully leaves behind the sound of vehicles, the mob of clicking tourists and experiences the sounds of nature as you descend down on the trail which used to be in part the ‘Old Hindustan Tibet Trail’. The trail still remains a passage for the local villagers as a shorter access route (avoiding the highway) along with their herds on occasions. Visit the School for the blind, and start the loop around on this trail that remains untouched and is bountiful; where one finds nature in abundance and one is able to relax the senses and enjoy the sweet chirpings of wild birds, savor the wild flowers, the swaying Cedars, the rustling Oaks and some old colonial houses that mark the way. The walk provides you with a taste of the old village life, a peep at the times gone by and plenty of time to wonder away… until you reach the Presidential Retreat and return to Cedar Hill lodge again.
(Duration of Run: 1 Hr.  Grading: Easy)

3) The Cedar Sanctuary Trail:  This is the Century old ‘Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary’ and encloses the Cedar Hill Lodge to its three sides. The duration spent in the forest ranges from an hour to three depending upon the temperament of the hikers/runners that tread in this forest. A Cedar Sanctuary, this pristine undisturbed forest provides a home for a host of wildlife such as the Himalayan: Barking Deer, Leopard, Black Bear, Goral, Jackal, the yellow-throated Martin. In the lower belts of the forest and many areas around one can spot a host of birdlife toiling away such as the Himalayan:  Woodpecker, Barbet, the colourful Minivets, Barbets, Cheer, Kokla and Khaleej Phesants. The forest also hosts a rich abundance of Himalayan flora and one can find self by spending the entire day exploring, taking to the sounds of nature and savoring the richness of the forest. 
(Duration of Run: 1.5 - 2 Hrs.  Grading: Health Check)

4) The Suburban Mashobra Valley Route:  The run takes you into the rapidly changing rural countryside surrounding Cedar Hill and the Shimla town. The run fitness and can be undertaken in three hours on a constant, relaxing pace.
 
The trail begins with a sudden loopy descend from our village Charrabra to Mashobra that continues halfway on and one constantly finds the self focused on his footing in these stony narrow pathways. The Shali Peak stands steadfast to the front displaying the tricks of altitude that the Himalayan landscape has to offer until it disappears only to emerge as the ascent begins. All along every village crossed (Seepur,  Shali,   Deothi &    Mulkoti) is marked with old temples representing their cultural and architectural heritage with a wealth of folklore and hospitality and the occasional smiles to greet you along. From Mulkoti – some rest and a picnic enjoyed – one then begins his hour long gradual ascent back to the  Mashobra village. Here, one can utilize his vehicle to take the twenty-minute drive to the lodge or continue the run (ascent) for an 20 mins. through the constant shelter of Cedars and Oaks back to    Cedar lodge, the village Chharabra. (Duration of Walk: 2-3 Hrs.  Grading: Feed me More)


5) The Full Loop to the Mashobra Valley & Back: The entire valley as seen from Cedar Hill below can be covered in this 3-4 Hrs. challenging trail. This trail is an extension to ‘The Suburban Mashobra Valley’: (   Seepur,   Shali,   Deothi &    Mulkoti) and it further continues on to the villages of (    Kanda,    Ghorna and     Kotidhar). From Kotidhar, one then begins a steep climb back to the highway where not far the    Cedar Hill stands. A handful of apple orchards, some wood and slate houses, tumbling tiny streams, old but renovated temples, bustling new schools, terraced fields of assorted vegetables: corn, wheat and potatoes; and glimpses of the famed cannabis mark the route during the hike in this valley.                                                          
(Duration of Walk: 3-4 Hrs.  Grading: Challenging)

Gut Check - Health and Fitness. Trail running can never be a hobby only a way of life.

6) The Shali-Tibba Trial: A full day activity, the Shali Peak, dedicated to Goddess Kali has all the elements harmonized for a perfect outing. This habitually mist engulfed Peak is the local highest peak in the vicinity of Chharabra and Shimla. On a clear day, the peak offers a breathtaking view of the entire Himalayan ranges as seen from the Cedar Hill.
 
Option (A)::: One enjoys the picturesque drive crossing Mashobra, then Baldeha, leading to a dirt track in part towards the ever beautiful the village Gulshaini and then a steady ascent on a bumpy road to the village of Khatnol.  Trail Run 'UP': 1 - 1.5 Hrs. (Same down) unless you're a mountain goat.

Option (B):: Run from Cedar Hill Lodge on the forested trails, countryside, occasional crossing of the roads dissecting the villages. Then Run Up the Shali mountain to (3208 meters). Our estimate is 5-7Hrs. (One Way). I think you should a taxi for return after running down the Shali Peak. Or
else we will wait for you till 'Midnight' ;) 

Total Distance: 35-40 Kms. approx. 
 ***If your holiday includes one of these trails do contact us. We might join you.

Shali Peak as seen from Cedar Hill.



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