Mad Dogs and Englishmen [trek day 6]

Trip Start Jul 02, 2007
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Trip End Aug 03, 2007


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Thursday, July 19, 2007

My nose is drier than the Atacama!

Up at 5 again, this time with Katryn, and so we both sat in the main tent with a bowl of porridge. Francoise joined not long after and soon everyone was there, squished up for warmth. We ended up having quite a serious conversation about the plans once we hit Guilling. We had only paid for the trek and the jeep so far, so I still had the option to go my own way. Since Guilling is down the Pin Valley there was no point me leaving then, or I'd never get out. I opted to pay on a daily basis. So, for a day I came along, the price would be split 6 ways and if I didn't then the split was between the 5 of them. Looking at buses up to Ki and stuff, it might be better for me to join them for that too. We'll see. I need to decide what I'm doing with my remaining time. I've got 13 days left, but I need to be in Delhi at least on that last day, if not before, and it'll take me at least a few days to get out of Spiti.

We set off walking at about 8.30 and, with hindsight, I was quite cross with Narish for not suggesting we set of earlier. There was no rush to get to Guilling, but setting off earlier would've given us more time before the heat of the day, perhaps with a stop in Mikim. There was no shade all day and no cloud cover. Ah well.

We took the route the others had walked to Mudh the night before. Before we left the camping grass area, we passed stone walls, built thick and filled with rocks inscribed with Ladakhi prayers. They are called Mani stones and they are quite beautiful:

Ladakhi rock inscriptions


There was a bridge but it was one of the more stable in the area. Then the first bit of track in 5 days. The trail was on one hand easier and on the other harder. There's a rudimentary road as far as Mudh - just a rough track, but flat and wide enough that the drop off at the edge isn't a problem. But the rocky surface is uneven to walk on. It was the lack of shade that did it though. Dirk and I had soon struck off ahead, initially because that is our natural pace, but then in the hopes of getting there faster. Even sending the jeep back to get the others. It got hotter and brighter and I was worried about running out of water. Occasional streams ran between the rocks at the bottom of side valleys and we splashed our heads and wet our trouser legs with it. We dried up quickly, but it provided momentary relief. Before Sangram we cut through some pea and barley fields to make the route shorter. That's all that grows here, plus apples and apricots, way up into Ladakh.

We met some farmers who gave us wildly varying distance estimates to Guilling. Reaching Mikim (population 25) was a bit of a relief. We sat in the shade and had a drink, but then pushed on, not knowing how the others were faring. Across the river on a big bridge and then, finally, what could only be Guilling up ahead. We passed some more peas and helped ourselves to a few pods. Bad children! Then, a dilemma. Two roads, one leading ahead on the flat, and one leading to our left and up steeply, slightly back the way we had come. There was evidence of Buddhists flags on the top of the cliff. Which way was Guilling? I, for one, was not keen on going up unless we knew. A vehicle came along, but wouldn't stop when we flagged it. Fortunately we went with straight ahead, since the route up the hill turned out to be the way to Kungri monastery.

We arrived at 2pm, dusty and hot, and found a dhaba to sit in. When the jeep turned up, we sent it up the valley for the others. They had done alright, making it as far as Mikim. Reunited, we sat and rested and talked while we waited for our bags to appear. We thanked Narish for his guiding - I said the only blip was that he should've had us leave earlier today. It's been great though! A dream realised.

Jenny and Ann ordered thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) but it was a bit too watery and spicy for them. Francoise, Katryn and I took ourselves up the road to look in the little stalls. Pretty much the same as anywhere in India - foodstuffs and hanging sachets of shampoo and betel nut. Down a side track we watched women gathering peas and Francoise and I decided we would buy a kilo. I love peas in any form, but these were DELICIOUS! I guess it's the strong sun, but so sweet! We sat and ate them on the step outside the dhaba. The dry wind is still around, blowing dust up the road and into our eyes.

Once the bags arrived, at about 4pm, we hopped in the jeep.
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