Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trekking : Padum to Lamayuru - Day 1

Trekking from Pishu to Hanumil
To start our Padum to Lamayuru trek, we checked out from our hotel in Padum, and loaded our trekking gear in a jeep that would drive us to Pishu. It was still dark outside, but we wanted to reach Pishu early, so that we could start the trek before the sun comes out in full force and makes trekking difficult.

The distance from Padum to Pishu is about 30 kilometers. Some people still trek on this route (making a pit stop in Karsha, which is on the way to Pishu). I don't like trekking on motorable roads, as it seems pointless, hence our decision to start our trek from Pishu.

Motorable road from Padum to Pishu.
After about 2 hours of driving, we finally reached Pishu. You may wonder why it took 2 hours to drive a distance of 30 kilometers. I must clarify that when I mentioned "motorable" road, I used the term very loosely. The road needs to be navigated very carefully, due to the large number of rocks and streams on the road, and the vehicles take a heavy beating from the journey.

Pishu is a tiny village located by the side of the Zanksar river. A chorten (A buddhist Stupa) and a prayer wheel welcomes the visitors. Also, all the houses have these colorful stones with the Buddist prayer intricately engraved on them. We would find these type of stones all along the trek.

Stones with engravings of Buddhist prayer in Pishu.
We could see some tents already setup by the riverside. Normally, if we had trekked from Padum (or Karsha), this would have been the place to stay overnight in tents. In our case, this would the the starting point of our trek, and we would go all the way to Hanumil, where we would set up our tents for the first night.

We had one more thing to do before we could start our trek. We did not have a guide with us, and we were hoping to locate one in Pishu. After checking all the houses, we finally found one person who was willing to accompany us. His name was Trashi. After negotiating his fees, we were invited inside his home for a hot cup of tea and roti (Indian bread).

Our guide, Trashi.
Trashi's home in Pishu.
Unfortunately, our plans to start off early from Pishu went horribly haywire. Our horseman (the resourceful Shashi), somehow lost one of his horse, and he had to roam the entire valley trying to locate it - while we dozed off in Trashi's house. If he couldn't locate his horse in time, we would have to stay put in Pishu for the night, thereby losing a valuable day from our trekking schedule.

Our horseman, Mr. Shashi.
While we were waiting for Shashi to find his horse, we decide to explore the tiny village.

Shawn ringing the buddhist prayer wheel.
The village has a large buddhist prayer wheel/bell. Everyone who passes by, gives it a push. As it turns round, it rings a bell. Every village in Ladakh has at least one of these wheels in the center of the village.

The route from Pishu to Hanumil.
We could see the trek going towards Hanumil. We felt like starting our trek - but until Shashi could locate his horse, we were stuck here.

Lunch break for school children in Pishu.
We passed by a group of children who were on their lunch break from the nearby school. I guess they were very hungry, as they were fully engrossed with their food, and paid no attention to us.

It was nearly 2 p.m., by the time Shashi finally located his horse. The distance from Pishu to Hanumil is supposed to be 5 hours average. We felt we could do it before sunset, so the three of us (myself, my son Shawn, and my brother Roy) headed off towards Hanumil, while Shashi and Trashi loaded our gear on the horses. Since they walk much faster than us, they would catch up with us.

Our trekking gear.
I felt a sense of elation as we started our trek. After all the troubles we had gone through in the last 3 days, it had seemed that we were destined not to do this trek. Now that we were actually doing it, I couldn't believe it.

Shawn, leading the trail.
The route from Pishu to Hanumil is an easy route - following the Zanskar river. There are no steep climbs or passes to cross. I decided to give myself a challenge on the first day. I left Shawn in the care of my brother, and quickened my pace. I wanted to see if I can really do the trek in 5 hours.

Trekking route from Pishu to Hanumil
Roy and Shawn quickly fell behind - as they were unable to match my pace. Here they look like tiny dots on the horizon, as they follow the trail.

Zanskar river with Pishu in the background.
Finally, after 3 hours of walking, I saw the first sign of civilization, marked by a chorten. It was the village of Pidmu.

A chorten on the hill indicates sign of a village ahead.
Village of Pidmu.
The villagers greeted me warmly, and informed me that I have another 2 hours of walking to reach Hanumil.

Route from Pidmu to Hanumil
I crossed the village of Pidmu, and passed through green fields, and continued my trek towards Hanumil. After nearly 2 hours, I finally reached Hanumil. It had taken me exactly 4 hours and 35 minutes. I felt energized knowing that I had completed the trek in less than 5 hours.

Hanumil Guest House
Roy and Shawn arriving in Hanumil.
It was another 1 hour before Roy and Shawn finally made it, closely followed by Shashi and Trashi with the horses and our gear. It was nearly dark, so we decided to stay in the guest house, instead of putting up the tent.

The distance from Pishu to Hanumil is 16.12 kilometers (according to my GPS logger). The elevation of Hanumil is 3,430 meters (a little lower than Padum, which lies at 3,570 meters). This makes sense since we  followed along the flowing river, which has a downward path.

We were feeling good - but it would not last for long.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

mashalaah! i would love to go to such place one day! quiet with no cars and a bit of adventure! however the name " karsha" kind of cracked me up!

great blog! keep it up