It’s all downward from here. Thats how the 4th day of the trek was defined. And indeed it was the only truth we heard in the last few days….well apart from the streams of water thrashing down on the mountain terrain.
We depart from the camp early….well our early is beginning to be around 10 AM now.
We make our way to the village of Tar. the route follows a stream melting from a glacier. Looking at the maps we anticipate that it will lead us to the Indus finally. After about 3 hours of walking we reach Ta, a small village nestled in the hills. We are taken in by a family for lunch. It is a beautiful house – the entryway is beautifully landscaped with Iranian Poppy. The living room in true Ladakhi tradition is adorned with numerous paintings and is well stocked with a large number of utensils. I am told that these utensils are not used on a daily basis, but only during a festive occasion when the whole village eats together. We are hungry and the family serves us apricots and chai.
One of the guys is back in Ladakh after about 15 years working in Delhi. He is excited to see me. Apparently the villagers are thrilled to see me. They say that foreigners are a common sight in these parts of Ladakh whereas Indians trekking hte mountains are rare. I am accorded a warm and royal welcome. The guy used to be a tour guide back in the days and had accompanied bmore than 200 expeditions (he said 223) in the Himalays. He worked with the Rimo Adventures, a company he said was started by Tenzing Norgay’s niece. He seemed appalled at the falling standards of the guides these days. For the last 5 years he was based in Delhi, working for a software firm. Now his ambitions are taking him to Australia where he has found his professional calling. Good luck to him!!
The house was covered in beautiful flowers, apricot and apple trees. They grow their own food mostly and engage in cooperative farming techniques. Even though the house is in a pretty remote location, it is well furnished with modern amenities. Electricity is free, powered by solar cells and Govt. subsidies. there is a phone line and a rough calculation reveals that at the present rate the Govt.’s investment cannot be recouped in more than 30 years.
We leave the natives and make our way towards the campground. It is another 2 hours of walk and right on the banks of the Indus. The Indus is one river that stubbornly refuses to flow quiet.
We freshen up at the Indus. The water is cold but the sun is still up and shining bright. My back is all red from the exposure, but I am loving it! Life is excellent whenever I am near a water source, so this feels amazing!! We walk into a restaurant, chalk up some good mutton momos and beer (oh yes, we are near civilization again!!!!) and are ready to have a great dinner cooked by our guide. Oh yes, he joined us back in Tar after dropping off the Dutch guy. We are told that the guy is in good hands and we are relieved.