Sunday, September 28, 2008

On the Markha Valley Trail: The Proverbial Last Mile

Route: Jinghchen To Ganda La Base past Rumbak via Yurutse

“Gruelling” was the only way to describe day 2. Today we set off from Jingchen past Rumbak, Yurutse to the base of Ganda La (pass). From a height of roughly 3900 meters, we ascended to 4200 meters according to our guide. The guide book notes that the base camp is at a height of 4500 meters and for all our sakes, I hope that is in fact right. The actual pass is at a height of 4900 m – so still some way to go. All these numbers which were mere numbers have begun to take significance of their own.

Before leaving for Leh, the Markha Valley Trail (marked as moderate) seemed very simple. I kept looking for ways to extend the treks, include places to cover more and see all that we were supposed to see. Today – that has all changed. 8 hours as such is not hard, but add to that a group of first-time and moderate trekkers, and a steep incline – the picture looks very different. And shortness of breath, can be a real speed breaker.

If the saying “the last mile is also the toughest” ever held true, it was today (not sure if it is really a saying, but nevertheless). I remember the exact moment when we reached our end point or what we thought was our end point. Only to find that our horses had found this site unsuitable to their fancies and had decided to camp a few hundred meters ahead in the second campsite!! Every step after that is etched in my memory! Our guide’s view “every step today is step lesser tomorrow”. While it was hard to argue with that logic and his smile, it didn't make it any easier!

PS 1: All qualms about an “elaborate” staff (yes, the presence of cook versus a cook-cum-guide counted as elaborate, not really, but somewhat) have been squished. The extremely watery Maggi and pickle waiting for me was like heaven. (Yes, Maggi and pickle!)

PS 2: For tomorrow, my friend (who has half a mind to cut the trek short at Skiu) is taking the horse. I hope that works, I would hate to turn back!

Red clashing with brown

The lonely Chorton (or Stupa), among the many we saw

Green fields at Yurutse


Mridula said...

I could not make it beyond Ganda-La base! We are thinking of going back to Ladakh next year.

Ms.N said...

Nice... I am thinking of the same thing too... especially now i know my way around the place, it is tempting to return !

God, it must have been harder with you not being well - i can only imagine!

Meera said...

Nice pictures but send me the entire album.

Anil P said...

Such beauty to be had in the seemingly desolate.

Sriram said...

Is that red sand/stone?? I am surprised there is red soil ... Is tht characteristic of that region?