I am woken early morning by the Dutch guy. He is not feeling well. It seems that some of his previous allergies have reappeared and his face is swollen. Painkillers have had no effect, and it seems it is best for him to leave for Leh. Our guide runs down the mountains and is back in an hour. He says something can be arranged to take him back to Leh safe. Our guide leaves us and we are on the mercy of the donkey man and the donkeys to climb the TarLa. As the sun lights up the surroundings, I realize that we had camped by the beautiful Kela Tso – or Lake Kela.
It is a beautiful morning though and I click some shots before breakfast. Breakfast is heavy in anticipation of a big climb ahead and so are our lunch packs.
We begin steady and I think the donkeys have a tough day! No grass on the way either, the landscape is really barren. I follow a stream uphill as it flows through loose gravel and stones. Water always takes the path of least resistance and I thought that would be the best route to take. 3 hours later we stop at a fork and finish off our lunch packets, gain some more energy and start all over again.
After about a 5 hour climb, we finally reach TarLa. It is a beautiful view from here and it is my first climb over 5000m. TarLa is precisely at 5250m. It is awesome to be able to walk on both the sides of a mountain simultaneously (with one foot on either side). On the way down, its a tougher walk. With loose stones and gravel, you really need to watch your step, and not slide to the bottom of the hill. Also, it is amazing how quickly you can make your knees wilt under the pressure. On our way we encountered a dead horse. Its intestines lay about 50 feet from the body, and from all clues it looked like a carnivorous attack, rather than a natural death. Our donkey man informed us that it was a snow leopard, that cut short the horse’s life about 2 days ago. Apparently, it was still enjoying the kill. Another 3 hours of climbing down and we decide to call it a day in the middle of nowhere on the sloping and sliding side of the Himalayas, with just a water stream to our company. We anticipated that in case a snow leopard attacked, the donkeys might just be the first preys! with no more energy to spend, we waited patiently for the dinner and headed for hte sleeping bags soon after!