Trip report – here’s the short and sweet version. Full, formal account and photographs might happen some day (0r not).
The entire experience can be summed up in two words: damn rain. We trekked for two weeks and were blessed with two days of sunshine in the middle. Meanwhile, all around us were landslides, flash floods, bridges washed away, roads closed (including the leh-kargil road) and much excitement. A foreign trekker reportedly fell off a pass and broke a leg and a horse reportedly fell off another pass and lost an eye. According to alarmists, 800 foreign trekkers were air-lifted to safety and numerous treks turned back mid-way as the rivers were overflowing and impassable.
Unblissfully aware but unconcerned, we trekked from Lamayuru to Lingshet over five passes, the highest at 5000+ m (close to 17000 ft), then turned around and crossed all five passes in the opposite direction. Of the three donkeys who were accompanying us, one was seriously unwell and his load had to be carried by his owner all the way up the last pass!
Thankfully, amongst the human company, there were no serious ailments apart from general morbidity due to the weather. With the last pass behind us, holding back the worst of the rain clouds, the weather improved sufficiently for us to enjoy the last two days of trekking. We did see some spectacular evidence of landslides along the path, notably just outside Wanla, where there is an untarred road. Here huge rocks, as big as houses, had rolled off the hillside and onto the “road” – what a sight it must have been!
Due to clouds and mist and rain, we did not have the great views that we had travelled so far to find. Nevertheless, we had some great experiences, particularly with the local people and also with a local dog who had undertaken a solo trek from Lamayuru to Photaksar (3 days, 42 km) and joined us for part of the way back.
The only other matter of interest was the road journey back to Manali (fourth time for me, but still spectacular), which was followed by an exhausting taxi ride down to Chandigarh. After a hectic time meeting family in Chandigarh and Delhi we caught our flight back to Bangalore on Sunday night, and got straight back to work Monday (sigh!).