Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ladakh - Zanskar trek Day 3

From Zanskar Trek

Day 3: Hanupeta to Photoksar, via Shise La

We woke up to a beautiful morning -- as our photos will confirm. It was also the first day we went to the loo in the open: no toilets on this trip!

After a quick breakfast in the morning, Pooja and I started off first while our entourage took care of packing up. We were going to cross the second pass of the trek, and it was going to be a long steady climb. As we started hiking, Pooja started complaining about headache. We thought it was just the sun and continued up. As we climbed up and trudged on, it got worse. She threw up once, and her headache worsened.

Close to the top of the pass, we met a guide from another group heading the same way as us. We exchanged notes and, to my dismay, he was of a very strong opinion that the trek will take us 11-12 days and not the 9 days we were planning for. In contrast, the cook-guide with us felt we “have to finish the trek in 9 days irrespective of whatever” even though he had no clue what lay ahead. As we discussed -- and both of the guides were quite animated about expressing themselves -- at the “hotel” on the pass, I noticed Pooja was looking quite bad.

From Zanskar Trek

She had tied her scarf tightly around her head and was sitting with her head firmly in her hands. My first thought was to turn back. We stayed there for a little bit while the horses and the cook went on ahead. We ate some Maggi, drank some tea and eventually started up again. Within minutes Pooja had vomited everything she had eaten. Bravely enough, though, she made it to the top and we were eventually at our camp a couple of hours later.

At the camp, while Pooja took some garlic-ginger soup to nurse what looked like altitude sickness, I argued with our guides. Dhuntup, who was responsible for the horses and had done the trek earlier, was very hard to follow -- he would pretty much agree to whatever we proposed. It didn’t help that we now learnt that the written plan we had been given from Leh to follow was incorrect: it even listed the places we would reach in the wrong order. We realized we had to somewhat take leap of faith if we were to go forward, and it will surely mean a more arduous trek than we had thought it would be.

And it didn’t help that Pooja wasn’t able to eat anything.

We finally postponed the decision to the next morning: if Pooja felt better and we could move forward, we will. To make matters worse, I had a headache and nausea by the time dinner came around.

We had mo-mo’s for dinner -- steamed dumplings, something Pooja normally craves for -- though neither of us really had much of an appetite.

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