Part 9. Exhaustion, Exhilaration, Contentment

My memory of the next few days on the trek consists of a mix of breathless climbs up endless inclines, beautiful vistas and deftly avoiding mule/donkey dung. I'll try my best to recount the rest of the trip as concisely as possible, since I too wish to just get done with this series of postings and hopefully write about the other trips that I have done.

Day Two with a surprise. After some searching and climbing , I find my own personal space behind a rock and begin to commune with nature. Just as the discourse began, I realized that I had parked myself behind a bush adjacent to a path frequented by goats and shepherds. I hastily try to finish my business, only to be surprised by the bleating of some lamb peering at me through the bush it was trying to eat. Once the shock wore off, I looked around to find a shepherd staring at me in surprise. What can I do now.. the only thing that comes to my mind is to say "Juley" and I blurt it out like a fool and to my relief scares off the shepherd and his flock !! I chose to keep this incident under wraps for a while now, but hey.. the truth is out now :)

Once I got back to the camp site we set out towards Kongski La. The rest of the day's trip took us through fields of lavender and mustard which made for many photo opps. I vaguely remembering trudging through really pretty scenery, but being absolutely tired through the whole trip. Every step I took became tougher as my feet got heavier with every incline. So many times, I felt like I just wanted to get into foetal position and die. But my friends refused to give up... I think they bribed me with candy, although I cannot be too sure of that.

The rest of the day, just went by in a blur and one fantastic view after the other came by, but ofcourse, I was quite tired to notice most of it. I took time out to click pictures, eat some sugar candy, drink glucose water and slather on some sunscreen.

From Leh and the great Trek

The trek on the third day took us through a small forested area with a bubbling brook which we used to fill our bottles every now and then. While the water was not clear and was a little cloudy, it was refreshingly cool and very very refreshing.

From Leh and the great Trek

The end of the day's trek through a slight drizzle brought us to camp by the a stream that was clear and fast flowing. After the mandatory rounds of frisbee and endless games of cards by torch light, we started dinner and that's when it all started coming down. The pitter patter of the raindrops turned out to be quite a torrent with hail stones pelting us as we rushed in to our tents with whatever little protection we had.

The next morning, the stream had turned chocolate brown with sediment from the higher reaches and the tops of the mountains around us had a light dusting of snow!

From Leh and the great Trek

Day 4 was all down hill initially and this was the best part of the trek for me. I was in good spirits and some tchang helped a lot. I was quite ahead of the rest of the group and had made really good progress. I felt a lot like Captain Haddock did as he was marching ahead of the rest of the group, until I had to cross a shallow stream and promptly fell in while attempting to !

From Leh and the great Trek

From Leh and the great Trek

My enthusiasm soon waned as the post lunch trek winded up hill once again. Along the way we saw heards of dzo, a cross between yaks and domesticated cows. The irony did not escape me, while they placid chewed the cud or did whatever it is that dzos do, I was huffing and puffing up hill, barely able to place one foot in front of the other and I once again resumed my rightful place at the end of the line. After a tough uphill climb where the
mules once again overtook us enroute to the next campsite, we arrived at Dung Dung Chan La for our last day in the tents.

Final day - The excitement of being the last day trek really pumped us up and the thought of getting to a clean bathroom and wearing fresh clothes was quite motivating.

From Leh and the great Trek

From Leh and the great Trek

For what seemed like hours and hours of a never ending descent through absolutely inhospitable terrain, we slid down gravelly slops, scraped knees and elbows, crossed dangerous chasm and walked tenuously on pathway 10 inches wide and rapelled down a cliff face ( OK.. I made that last one up) we finally came for a lunch stop where I just crashed and slept on the ground in the shade of some trees. At this point, we imagined that it was almost over and our transportation back to Leh is just around the corner.

But ofcourse, it was far from over we still had a few more kilometers to go and all along a stream filled with boulders. This was by far quite strenuous, especially for Prashant since he had shoe bites which gave a pretty rough time. To add to the discomfort, we could not see the rest of the group and had no idea how far we had to go. The flora by this time had changed and we had come below the tree-line. We could see wild brushes, something that looked like apricots, junipers and more.

From Leh and the great Trek

Soon we heard whoops of joy from the rest of the group as they reached Chilling where Hamy and Soumya where waiting for us ( They left the group on day 2 or 3 and headed to Leh). The raw apricots on the trees didnt last long as Suchi, Rajesh and Prashant kept throwing stones to knock them down. I wonder if they had stomach upsets later.. the apricots seemed rather raw.

The jeep ride back to Leh was a haze as we all slept and woke up only once we reached the hotel. After a warm shower and hot meal and a quick nap, we were ready to take on Leh by night. This was the end of a great trek, probably the best I've ever done.

The trip was not quite over though, the next morning we went back to Chilling for a river rafting trip on the Zanskar. After donning protective clothing and helmets, we were given a quick primer on how to steer the raft. Nothing however, could prepare for the cold water that hit us the raft splashed around in the rapids. Although the trip was short, it was quite tiring and we were really really hungry by the end of it. The next morning, I left for Bangalore via Delhi and was home again.

This trip left indelible impressions on me and even now, two years later, I can still feel the ground under my feet, the cold water of the streams, the wind in the trees and can see the stars over Leh. I will cherish this trip forever and hope that this will be the first of many trips.

Trampled byY Trip at Saturday, June 20, 2009


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