I'VE DISCOVERED AN AN AMAZING NEW DIET!!!! It involves trekking 8 hours a day up mountains at altitude for 10 days and getting really sick for part of it...fantastic results...where before there was blubber, now there are ribs!
It takes 10 days of trekking and camping in dusty, desert mountains to fully appreciate the luxury of hot running water...I'm back in Leh after my trek in the Markha Valley and am basking in the afterglow of sheer pleasure that was my first shower and hairwash in over a week...and, God, it feels good!!
It was a truly spectacular route to trek but it took a couple of days for me to really appreciate it. Not, as I had feared, because of altitude sickness or lack of leg muscle but because my insides went berserk the day before the trek. 3 weeks in India and not a hint of 'Delhi belly' but suddenly everything I swallowed rapidly reappeared from one point or another. Figuring it would be a 24 hour episode, I
ignored it but by morning 3 of the trek I was horribly weak - the body can't really generate much energy when all food is going straight through it and it hasn't slept, for repeatedly running out of the tent in the freezing night air to dig an emergency toilet and use it. I was so weak and exhausted that morning that I just sat and cried at the thought that I would probably have to descend, abandoning the trek.
But I just couldn't. It's not in my nature to give up. I had wanted trek in this region for years and 2 days was not going to suffice! I thought of Joe Simpson (?) in 'Touching the Void' and figured that if he could get through his mountain situation in his condition, then a bout of sickness and diarrhoea was not going to put the kaibosh on my wee adventure! Luckily, among my wonderful trekmates, were Min and El, med students,
with a first aid kit the size of my entire back pack, from which they produced antibiotics, rehydration sachets and glucose tablets. It's not easy at the best of times, trekking up a steep rocky mountainside to a pass at nearly 5,000 metres, gasping for oxygen in the thin air...doing it while sick was a feat of endurance. But I was on such a sugar high
and so determined to get there that slowly but surely I gained height and reached the pass...and the combination of exhileration and relief surpassed even the stupendous panorama of peaks visible from the top! Thankfully the drugs soon kicked in and by the next morning I was guzzling big bowls of barley porridge from the cook's tent to fuel the 8 hours hike ahead.
We walked between 7-9 hours most days, with the highest pass being 5,200 metres, the highest I've ever walked - and I can't describe how pleased I was with myself to do it! The scenery varied constantly: villages, cultivated barley terraces with beautiful flowers, barren rocky slopes, narrow river gorges, rocks of all shapes and colours...it was never less than stunning but I just don't have the vocabulary to do it justice.
My fellow Rockies trekkers, you would have loved it! I actually did a double take one day when I saw a dark stubbly figure in a red t shirt trekking ahead...but no, it wasn't Michele (though he would have been in heaven!). John, I wished on several occasions that you were there with your bag of 'O Henry's' to hand out for sustenance! And Mick, you would have found it tough as the altitude was too high to be able to drink beer at the end of each day's trek!
I'm now feeling super fit and very satisfied and hoping this will prove good training for Everest Base Camp in a few weeks, though I'm sure my fitness will be long gone by then! In the meantime I'm planning a slightly lazier few days...Four of my trek mates and myself are heading to Kashmir to sit on a houseboat on Dal Lake and read the new Harry Potter book.
Huge thanks to everyone who has been sending me messages, it's great to get them! And apologies for not replying individually but, despite the many internet cafes around, the connections are feeble and it's just not possible to send many emails...but please keep sending me the goss!