continued from Part 1
The lure of the sun comes early here. By 5:30am, I can already see darkness ceding to the light. From my experiences in Siguniang ’15, I have chosen not to be deceived on this day. I remain in my sleeping bag until the warmth from the sun’s rays can be felt.
I slept well during the night. There was a bit of a rustle outside, maybe from footsteps of humans or animals. It could have been the wind. “At least it wasn’t a bear,” I think to myself.
Today’s itinerary will see the team pass through the barren grey landscape of Ladakh from Chang Ma (3988m) to Mankorma (4350m).
I am slightly disappointed with the elevation gain we are going to achieve today. “The higher up we get, the less elevation we need to cover for Summit Day.” I sigh.
Let’s go, shoes. Time to get to work.
The temperature was much cooler than Day 1. I have to put on my long pants and wind cheater for the 4 hour hike.
I think it is good to have something to occupy your mind when you are on a long hike. Yesterday I imagined myself walking on the moon. On this day, I imagined myself walking in Tatooine, a desert planet located in Star Wars galaxy.
It was the starting place of Luke Skywalker’s journey where galactic history was made. Maybe today I will make planetary history on this long, cold journey.
Here’s to hoping that Tatooine doesn’t turn into Hoth later on.
What I wouldn’t give for a podracer right about now…
There’s something majestic about walking beside a tall cliff or a towering mountain. Every inch tells a story of creation in some way. Scrape on each rock tell of a life lived long and well. Hardy plants tell a successful story of endurance.
I feel my posture straightening up just a bit. There is an energy surge that starts in my chest. We all have the potential for greatness in our own way.
“Listen – are you breathing, just a little. and calling it life?”
– Mary Oliver
Yes. I have found my podracers. They are helping to carry the equipment we need for our journey.
The Bharal. Protected by Buddhist monasteries, they are a tasty treat for snow leopards. In some parts of the world today, mustaches are considered to be quite popular. Don’t know if you’d want to twirl this one if it were attached to a live animal.
Acclimisation walk after reaching and setting up our camp at Mankorma campsite (4300m).
Amazing view taken during our acclimisation break. The snow capped peaks are beckoning over the Ladakhi valley. “Speak to your mountain,” a voice within prompts.
No words, however, came out. The sheer magnificence of the peaks in the Stok Himalayan range, cowed me into silence.
Even if I had spoken, I feel like my words would be like silent raindrops falling and echoing in the wells of silence which have been offered.
I think the mountain knows what I would say, even if I cannot find the words.
In every trek, there is one difficult challenge which must be faced. This is that challenge.
When coming down from our acclimisation walk, we came to an area with a 60 degree descent that had to be navigated. Unfortunately the organising guides decided that it would be best if we all went down this slope together.
The falling rocks, loose sands, and other imaginary obstacles I’d been thinking of throughout the trip suddenly became a harsh reality.
As we began to navigate this section, part of the slope gave way. A large piece of rock debris rolled waywardly and hit one of the team members squarely in the forehead. With a large gash that require extensive first aid, he was sent for medical treatment in Leh.
The frustration afterward was evident in the team. Several heated exchanges came about, discussing how the situation could have been better managed.
I am grateful that I came away from this challenge in good health. My gear performed as it should and my training helped me to recognize how to approach this situation as safely as possible.
I am also reminded of the importance of asking questions when circumstances seem unsure. It is better to ask a question or discuss a plan in detail before jumping right into a challenge without thinking.
A little planning can often go a long way, especially when you’re out on the trail.
I didn’t expect the day to end in such dramatic fashion. I headed straight back to my tent after dinner and did not come out for the rest of the night. The time was 1900hrs.