30th June : By the third day of walking we had got into a rhythm despite the wetness. I was never more than 10 mins behind the boys. Though I must confess that keeping up with them became my primary focus and I paid less attention to the surroundings…..
(A glacial river crossing before Hunkar village)
Takpa Lay, our guide, continued to feed my ego and called me a “genius” for my healthy lungs and strong legs. I continued to tussle with maintaining a humble exterior and tried hard to not let all the compliments go to my head! I sagaciously imparted the benefits of Yoga to all (until I literally had Takpa standing on his head!), as I laboured with keeping up with “mah boyz” and maintaining a certain rhythm and pattern for my breathing and walking at ever increasing altitudes. We had by now reached about 16000 ft asl.
(Takpa Lay demonstrating a version of the Shirshasana)
The Markha is indeed a beautiful valley. These days one can travel light with just a back pack with personal belongings because there are home stays available in every village throughout the valley. They seemed clean with palatable local food. Most home stays provide toilet facilities. Some are better equipped and cleaner than others. The Ladakhi toilet is similar to the old Portuguese toilet in Goa. Though in Ladakh, there are no pigs to keep the toilets clean. So although the squatting area is at least 10 ft above the landing area and the holes are small enough that one can’t fall through they are still large enough for the eye to notice the details of what is below. And the sight is never pleasing or aesthetic…….
(A Ladakhi toilet exterior. I leave the interior to your imagination…..)
We arrived at our third day’s campsite at Hunkar and the clouds parted and sunshine seeped through and warmed our bones, our tents and sleeping bags. Our spirits lifted. As often happens when one is so close to the elements in the outdoors and living under canvas, every ray of sunshine, cloud or drizzle is interpreted and given a meaning and is taken as a message sent by a higher being. The sunshine at Hunkar was interpreted by us as good will from the higher being and we felt that now that the bad weather was behind us we would surely scale Kang Yatze.
(Sunning at Hunkar campsite)