Trekking in Ladakh (Part I)

Day ONE: – Spituk to Jingchan

While waiting for our guide, we breakfasted on eggs, toast and tea. D, our guide, was already present and sitting there. We just didn’t realize it.

After hurried introductions and some initial bad vibes from our guide we set off to pick up the 8th member of our trekking group, MN and get to the starting point, Spituk, of the trek. The rest of the guide team was ready with the horses and waiting. The cook was ready with our lunches all packed neatly.

With the heat bearing down upon us we began the trek. Talking, laughing, enjoying ourselves, we went on with complete gusto. Since the whole area was barren of trees, the direct sun was a bit killing; though the cool wind made it a decent compromise.

5 On the way

 

SK and R walking along the track.
SK and R walking along the track.
If you look closely, you'll get to see a bunch of people 'scattered' right in the middle.
If you look closely, you’ll get to see a bunch of people ‘scattered’ right in the middle.

Up in the sky we had encouragement in the form of a ‘muscle’ cloud and down below it was in the form of people screaming with glee while river rafting along the Indus River.

Motivation from beyond...
Motivation from beyond…

The river gave us company for almost the entire day. Walking along the mountain with the roar and rush of the river below gave a different kind of thrill to oneself. With the wind blowing hard and cold, I soon began to have a runny nose. Not really good when the sun’s hitting you but the wind blows cold! LL, poor girl’s cap flew off her head and played ‘catch me if you can’ with her for a few minutes. She ran to catch it, it flew away further, she ran to catch it again, it flew further away again and so it continued. Eventually the wind gave her a break and she grabbed her cap before it changed its mind.

Nearing the river for our lunch break.
Nearing the river for our lunch break.

We stopped near the river bed to lunch on cheese bun sandwiches, a pear and some chocolates. RR even dipped his feet in the river to ease his leg muscles. Post lunch we left to reach our first camp site which was a few hours away.

All hyped on the food, we all walked within our speed limits resulting in some going further ahead than the others. The air gets a bit thinner making you really work your lungs out with every breath you take.  Taking breaks whenever required to gulp down some water or much on some chocolates, we reached our campsite by mid-afternoon.

Reaching our campsite.
Reaching our campsite.

This being my first trek, having to sleep in a tent was exciting for me. Hot water and tea and biscuits awaited us as we got there. As evening neared, the wind got colder. So those hot cups of tea helped us quite a bit. DAY ONE didn’t do much damage in terms of aches for most of us. SK suffered from a bad knee and SB from shoe bites but that’s the lot.

With a stream running near our campsite, it literally felt like we were living right there with nature and enjoying the comforts it provided us. A lovely steaming hot dinner and some laughter around a campfire and DAY ONE was over. With a good night’s sleep remaining, we all were looking forward to tomorrow which was to be a day of climbing. Since we were to leave by 6:30 AM, without further delay we went to sleep.

Our campsite
Our campsite

DAY TWO: – Jingchan to Rumbak to Yurutse

Today’s climb was exhausting. It made us restless every now and then and we stopped to take frequent breaks. Well most of us did. LL and MN zoomed off ahead. The only advantage of the frequent breaks was that you could really admire the scenery. It’s not that you couldn’t otherwise but to be able to stop and actually take a look around with a dazed look is something different altogether.

Taking a break and admiring the view.
Taking a break and admiring the view.

10 On the Way

For example, we saw these prayer flags at various places. This was unusual, you saw them often. But the uniqueness of it was that they were tied from one mountain to another. Tying them from one tree to another or one pole to another or even from one house to another is understandable and you can imagine it. But from one mountain to another… that’s new to me.

SK, with his bad knee, started to limp real bad now. So my sister and I gave him company and we trudged along with the breaks in between, munching on fruits and chocolates etc. Today’s lunch consisted of a boiled egg, a banana, cheese sandwich, chocolates and some dried fruits.

Following a tip given by R, we would walk 50 to 100 steps, take a minute or so break, walk another 50 to 100 steps and take another break and so on. It actually helped us from gasping with the low oxygen levels. It helped most of us but SK was now not only struggling with his knee but his want for breaks were coming sooner. This resulted in us slowing down quite a bit but we gave him words of encouragement and helped him along the way. Our guide (yes, we had a ‘guide’) had gone off ahead and was patiently waiting for us. R and my sister went off ahead to send him to give SK a pep talk. Thankfully it worked and we reached Rumbak, where R and my sister were waiting. We sat there and lunched on the sandwiches and eggs.

Nearing Rumbak
Nearing Rumbak
On the way from Rumbak to Yurutse.
On the way from Rumbak to Yurutse.

33 More yaks

Reaching our campsite.
Reaching our campsite.

Since we were a bit slow, getting to the campsite was delayed. Walking ahead and sending words of encouragement to SK, we soon reached our campsite, Yurutse. With a view of Yaks and mountains guiding us and giving us their own version of encouragement, DAY TWO of our trek was done. LL and MN were already there. SK was so happy to see our campsite that he ran the last few steps towards it. I went at the same pace and reached soon enough. RR, huffed and puffed his way to the site and went straight to the dinning tent and promptly lay down. Sitting out there and enjoying the view for a few minutes we too entered the dinning tent and had our mugs of hot tea and biscuits trying to drive away the day’s exhaustion.

My toes began to hurt a bit so as a precaution I massaged it and applied some balm for the next day’s trek was to be a really steep ascent AND a really long descent. In other words, a long, long day. Since dinner was quite a while away, we all went to our individual tents and to enjoy some well-deserved rest which is when I realized my sister was in pain. Her knees began to ache and were causing her a lot of trouble. Her knees started to ache all of sudden and she was finding it very difficult. Since SK was having the same problem, I asked him and R for help. With the advice of applying some balm and a pain killer, I went back to our tent.

Dinner was served and we had some piping hot vegetable soup which was a blessing for at night the temperatures really drop making you wanting to cuddle into your sleeping bags. Some hot parathas along with the soup filled our tummies and warmed us. We sat chit chatting about the day to while away time. Soon it was time for bed and waking up to the next day’s ascent and descent.

©NJ

Link to Part II.

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