Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tilat Sumdo to Gyalpo

26th January, Republic Day and our Anniversary. Is there any better way to celebrate than on the Chadar ? Sometime in the middle of the night Sandeep wished me. It was a cold morning (as usual) and getting out of the sleeping bag was a big task. After having the morning bed tea we finally decided to come out of the tent and by the time we got ready it was 8.30. Unlike other treks, where we start early, on the Chadar we used to start couple of hours later. This is because, the mornings were horribly cold and made no sense to walk early in that weather.

In the morning I saw a foreigner in a traditional Laddakhi dress on our camp site. What was surprising was he was talking in chaste Hindi and Laddakhi with our porters. It was only later, that Lobsang ji told me that he is a Frenchman, named Tony and has been in Laddakh for the last 20 years. He also takes groups on the Chadar and they do the trek in very much Zanskari style. Very interesting.

After having a good breakfast we started at 9.45 AM. It was a different feeling walking on frozen river. Initially the snow was friendly for the walk however the whole terrain kept changing.

For some initial part we walked on ice, and after sometime since the Chadar was not formed properly we climbed up on the boulders near the bank. We walked, we slipped, we stumbled, we fell; there were lot of different experiences on the same day in the first few hours. All the time the temperature was sub zero and the deep blue colors of Zanskar in the middle kept us company as we walked on the sides. Around 12.15 PM we reached a point where we planned to have lunch. We had hot rice pulav for lunch. This was first time when we had hot food en-route; in all my earlier treks we either used to skip lunch or used to have something leftover packed from breakfast. This was indeed new not that any of us minded it. We started at 1 or the next camp. The rest of the walk was without much rock negotiation. The river flowed between the stark mountains of Himalayas and as one valley closed behind us another one opened. It is one of the nature's wonders. I felt myself blessed that I was witnessing this wonder. We reached the campsite of Gyalpo at around quarter to three.

The porters had reached earlier and already pitched the tents. It was one of the beautiful campsite, surrounded by mountains from both the sides. We got river view tent; meaning we could look at the frozen river and were also on the side where wind struck you first. It was still sunny when we reached but cold. Sandeep, Mohan and Satya did some hiking on the scree on a near by mountain and I could see Sandeep far above waving.

We had good hot soup and dinner while Subbu and Satya narrated the stories from their last trek to Auden's Col. Both Sandeep and I had done a lot of preparation for the Auden's Col but sadly had to miss that trek last year. So we enjoyed hearing the stories. After a while we decided to hit the sack. It had indeed been a day to reckon with and we will always remember how we spent our 2011 anniversary in the cold of Zanskar mountains.

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