Trekking in the Himalayas
Leh’s old bazaar, still a thriving market, buzzes with locals and backpackers.
We walk uphill from the town to our guest house, at 11,000 feet, passing olive trees and wheat and barley in fields separated by stone fences to keep cows out, thin, straight trees, cultivated for timber, their green filaments tremors of anxiety in a wasteland of dust, sand, stone, and rocks.
With our guide and drivers, we set out in vans for our departure point at Chillin. Once past the military installations (this is a “disputed region,”) we ride high above the Zankar River, zig-zagging over rocks and dips on the edge of the canyon cliff, the road barely legible.
When we get to a cable-crossing over the river we disembark from the vans and take turns, two or three at a time, holding onto our bags in a small open chair, up, across, the cable sliding us above the river—others catch us for a soft landing.
There is a bridge here which other people (pedestrians, monks, mountain bikers) are allowed to use but not trekkers and not cars. On the other side, our guide, Tashi, packs lunches for us, and a handful of horsemen load our bags on seven ponies.