We had a good breakfast and started for Chilling at 11 AM. It was supposed to be 3 hour drive in our Sumos, on the Leh-Kargil road.
On the way we saw an people playing ice hockey on a rink, which we realized later were parts of the Indus which were completly frozen. After around 30km from Leh we saw the confluence of the muddy Indus and emerald green Zanskar river. This place is very close to the village of Nimmu. We could also see that both the rivers were partially frozen. We clicked some snaps here and then after sometime we left the highway and drove down along the Zanskar river towards the village of Chilling. I could already see the formation of ice, which gives the name of Chadar, on the Zanskar river. The road comes to an end just after Chilling and this was the start of the trek So this is it, I told myself, this is what I had been waiting for, for so many months. We thanked our driver and got down on the Chadar.
It was our first day on ice and on the Chadar; I could sense that everybody was very excited; there was a lot of chatter going on and at the same time people were cautious. We did not know what to expect, but this was really fun. We were walking on ice.
After a while we could see our campsite. The porters had reached and had setup the tents. It was hardly a quarter of an hour that we had walked on ice, but it was fun. We reached the campsite called Tilat Sumdo. Sumdo means a confluence, and there was indeed another small stream meeting the Zanskar here.
The campsite was surrounded by the Himalayan peaks from all the side. All the tents including a dinning tent were pitched. It was nice to see the dinning tent. I realized that it was going to be a luxurious trekking vacation for us. I don't mind it.
As the evening progressed, the temperature started dropping down. The porters typically don't have any tents or sleeping bags and they make the numerous caves or overhangs along the way as their home for night and they use fire to beat the cold.
Manish and Imran had brought some awesome gears for the trek and they were ready to share with other members. We spent the evening, chatting and then doing more chatting. It was good to see that all the members bonding together. We had a delicious dinner at 7 as we huddled together in the dining tent and spent some more time in the warmth of the tent post dinner. This was our routine to be for the next couple of weeks. Imaran, had done the basic and advanced courses from NIM and Pantha had done his basic from HMI. They were quite experienced and Imran, who had climbed Mount Rubal Kang in Himachal, had many stories to share about his experiences. That evening, he told the “metal bite”, which one can get if one touches metal water bottles or metal walking sticks at very low temperatures. Interesting, I told myself.
The sky was looking very clear, we could see lot of stars. This meant that the temperatures would drop in the night. Clear skies are good for Chadar as the temperatures stay low. I saw Arun had taken out his tripod to click some night shots of the stars.