JULAY Friends!We will contact you personally with regards to the book in the next few days. Due to slight complications and delays, we had to amend our original timeline, but in the meantime we have managed to merge new pictures from this year's expedition into the book and we have found a print house in Poland which can realise our designs, within the limited budget at our disposal. We will message you with more details by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, before we share with you some pictures of the joy and laughter which accompanied the distribution of winter jackets and shoes to our little friends, we want to show you first just how remote and isolated is their tiny kingdom, even in the midst of the summer. The journey to the valley was quite an ordeal this year!
We mentioned before that due to weather conditions and the state of the road leading across the Singala pass (5km above sea!), it was impossible to send a truck with heavy building materials. In fact, we had to walk a large part of the distance which normally would have been covered by a 4x4 car. Right before the highest pass, the road was blocked with ice, mud and rocks, and utterly impassable. Further down the track, frequent mud slides and rock avalanches made it difficult to cross even on foot, and we realised it will take some time before the heavy machinery can restore the road to a navigable state…
Walking the distance on foot can be pleasant as long as one is protected from the cold and adjusted to the altitude. At one point, a sheer difference of 1000 metres in vertical altitude has to be ascended and consequently descended, as the trek towards Lingshed leads up and down, a fact worth bearing in mind because it can escalate even the faintest symptoms of altitude sickness to an unpleasant degree.
But there is much raw beauty to witness, and the air, though rarified, is crystal-clear - all around silence reigns supreme. Combined with the views at times serene and imposing, witness to the struggle of titanic forces which formed much of the Zanskar range of the Himalayas, trekking through this region is a memorable experience.
As we proceed, the icy wind weakens and we seem to cross into a slightly more gentle microclimate. We meet local Ladakhi shepherds on their way across the passes, drinking salty butter tea and chang (home-made fermented barley beer). Slowly the temperatures become more forgiving and we approach the place where we will set up our second camp - the last one before reaching Lingshed.
But in the morning, the weather is unforgiving. We wake up to icy wind, snow and sleet, and our tents are completely soaked through. The visibility is so bad we are doubtful if we can descend the next pass... Luckily, after an hour’s trek, the microclimate seems to change again - a common feature in these regions, where only slight change of altitude seems to alter the weather almost miraculously - and we begin our descent down a zig-zagging pass in the morning rays of the sun, which chases away the icy mists with surprising speed... An hour later, it seems like nothing ever happened.
Finally we approach Lingshed, and the shifting clouds make for a beautiful play of light and shadow over the terraced fields of the valley. The weather is now sunny, even though just a few hours back it was snowing, and our moods are elated - we have made it!... When we start our descent into the village, we hear loud shouts and cheers, which eventually turn into a song and we see dozens of children from the school, lined up along the slope and awaiting us with bursts of happy laughter. That does it. We're back and it feels GOOD.
But it was the day following our arrival that turned out to be the greatest highlight of the entire trip… We will tell you all about that and share more pictures in our next update, so please stay tuned!
JULAY lovely people!
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