Watch out for dislodged stones

When you're downhill, watch out!
When you're downhill, watch out! © Bharat Singh Bhadwal. All Rights Reserved.

This is a short yet important tip that I have received many a time from “ Gaddis” (nomadic shepherds) traversing the Indian Himalaya.

Gaddis are the original Himalayan trekkers. For generations these nomadic people have wandered the Himalaya. They’ve discovered many a mountain pass, created numerous trails and and trod where other have feared to trek. Therefore, I’ve held any advice they’ve given me as sacrosanct and indispensable. Of the numerous little nuggets of wisdom they’ve shared with me here’s the one that’s been repeated by most –

Watch out for dislodged stones when walking downhill from an animal.

Animals have the propensity to dislodge stones as they move along a hillside. Even a small stone the size of an apple, can turn into a deadly missile a few hundred meters down a steep slope. This “missile” has enough kinetic energy to break bones, cause debilitating injury and in some circumstances, even kill.

I’ve dodged stones along easy trails like the [waterfall cafe trail]({% post_url 2016-05-05-Gallu-Temple-To-Waterfall-Cafe-Trek %}) (Mcleodganj) and on difficult trails like the [Sonbain glacier]({% post_url 2015-10-12-Chattargala-Pass-To-Sonbain-Glacier-Trek %})(Bhaderwah) treks.

So the point is simple, if you see any animal (cow/sheep/goat/dog/horse) uphill overlooking your walking trajectory, keep a sharp lookout for dislodged stones or better still, wait till it passes along.

P.S. this is also one of the reasons I discourage using headphones on a trek. Anything that lowers your spatial awareness or blocks any of your senses (including hearing) on a trek is a bad idea.

Trek safe.