Its going to be my first trek in the Himalayas and made my mind to do a challenging walk to test my endurance. Accordingly i choose Spituk-Jenchen based on difficult terrain and time available. At first, I am told that i will accompany an Australian family i met already in the guest house. I have already met Tony, his wife and his three girls who are from Sydney. They are doing a 5 day trek in which i will join on them till Jenchen and then return back with a guide. Unfortunately Tony refused as its a family event which he organised a long time ago. I appreciate his view as he and his family traveled a long distance and spent a fortune for this trip. Therefore i decide to do it solo with a help of a guide. The trek route is from Spituk to Jenchan and the guide is a 24 year old Nepali. It’s currently off season in Nepal for tourism and they travel to Delhi and finally to Leh to work as guide. I went up to the restaurant to fetch water and also to ask Prakash to prepare pack lunch. I bump into Tony’s wife and she apologise for mis-understanding. She is from English Lake district and moved to Australia when she was 6. Her mom is from Lancaster, the university town where i did my Masters. She said she will speak to Tony and will be able to accommodate. As everything is now arranged, i dont want to alter it. I also feel to do it solo and trek on my own pace. I wish her all the best for her five day trekking.
Its the same Ladakhi driver and he drop me in spituk. He handle 20 rs to the officer in charge for the trekking route and wish me good luck before he left. We start to walk with the Nepalese guide. The first hour is not impressive as it’s dry land. The guide doesn’t know English but manage to understand what I say. So I start to use broken English and sign language.
First we crossed the village of Plang. River Indus was flowing by the path we were walking. I can spot a river rafting group possibly doing a Grade II rafting as the river seem to be even without rapids. We step into a path across a beautiful gorge and a stunning view of river Indus flowing towards Nimoo. An American couple from Chicago who are doing Marka valley trek pass by. They are back packing without guide or mule. I help them by taking a photo of them behind the gorge. We cross the gorge and the climb became difficult with heat and exhaustion. The views so far is fantastic.
After 3 hours, we reach a small restaurant tent and its perfect location to have lunch. We bump into few Americans who are on their way to Jenchan on day 1 of Marka Valley Trek. The restaurant owner is a curious old Ladakhi man who try to hold conversation with me with help from my guide. There is a small beautiful stream which passed by the side of restaurant and a small bridge. It must be romantic at night to stay there. I finish my packed lunch and start to walk towards Jenchan. It’s a short walk and can see a small green field tucked in between the mountains. The grass been grown on these barren land and few huts are located by its side. Later came to know that the grass are for the mules and donkeys used in Marka Valley trek.
After few minutes of walk, we reach Jenchen. It’s a small camp location with a tea tent. The tea tent is run by a very shy Ladakhi girl. She covered her face when I request for a photo along with the tent. It looks like Numkin chai is a rarity outside Leh and i cant get one in that tent. The Americans arrive to the camp site and choose their tent. Their mules and assistants arrive a bit later. The mules dust themselves by rolling over the mud while the assistants started erecting cooking tent. Later heard that they will stay for a night and move to next camping site on their 15 day Marka valley trek. After resting for a good duration, we start to walk back to Spituk. Since its down slope, I thought the endurance will be less. Not really. It’s a long walk and mid day sun is toasting us on this tough terrain. I have to continuously hydrate to keep me going.
The guide became an expert in handling digital SLR after the trip. Suggested him to seriously consider photography as additional profession when he is not working as tour guide. Since I am using the newly bought trekking/climbing shoes for the first time on a long walk, I started to get blisters and it become more and more painful as time passed. It start to get dark and the cab is waiting in Spituk to pick us up. I can only walk slowly due to blisters and the guide is worried that we will miss the cab. To our delightment, the driver drive straight to our location and pick us up. Later heard that the cab as other appointments and don’t want to miss it. I am covered in dust and tired. Upon return to guest house, i rested after having a nice hot shower. Guess the blisters will be gone sooner.