We had thought that the difficult part of the trek was over. I was preparing myself for an easy walk through the Spiti Valley.
Before starting I asked the guide how much time it would take for us to reach Mudh He haw..hummed for a few mins and said that 3 hours ought to be enough. Well, I looked around.
All I could see was an endless desert hemmed in on all sides by mountains with a river flowing through a deep gash in the valley.
We started off on our “short trek”.
The Sun started growing in intensity in the sky. The air was thin and dry and utterly devoid of moisture.
The trail was initially strewn with a lot of rocks.
We kept walking….
and walking. The Sun was now at its prime in the noontime sky and beat down on us mercilessly. We came across a rushing stream that was unexpectedly deep and rapid.
We walked a few kms towards the mountains until we found a glacier and walked across it.
By the time we reached a meadow in the afternoon and plopped down on the soft wet grass for a bite to eat, we were pretty hungry and thirsty.
I took of my shoes and walked on the soft grass while wallowing in memories of the greenery of Kinnaur and the shade of the trees on the other side of the mountains.
After eating and sitting around looking at the flocks of sheep grazing around us I asked our guide how much more of our “easy trek” was remaining. I wasn’t surprised when he told me 3 hours again. I stuffed my legs into my dry hard shoes again and we all started once more on the dusty trail.
It seemed liked we were walking on Mars or at least somewhere that was not on earth.
The barren land, the mountains bearing the tear marks of glaciers with their strange mineral-derived colors, the gorge in the valley that stretched far into the distance and the trail winding and weaving its way along the side of the mountains.
We kept walking…
I fell into a rhythm. My breathing, my steps my gaze and my thoughts all fell into lock-step. I am a guy who enjoys movement and the continuous rhythmic motion was deeply soothing for me.
By afternoon, signs of civilization started appearing. Pieces of smooth stone with prayers inscribed on them, artificial ponds, farms and electric poles in the distance.
Finally, we could see the village of Mudh in the distance. Nestled in a crook in the mountains, flanked on both sides by glaciers and standing like a sentinel over the lush green paddy fields under it. It was a pleasing sight.
After a final trek up the slopes towards the village along stone paths cutting a way through the fields we got into the village and then into a small tea-shop.
I kept drinking water until I suddenly started sweating profusely. After sitting down I had fresh omelettes and tea until I felt the haze start to lift from my mind and felt alert and active again.
We got into the hired vehicle which would take us to Dhankar where we would be halting for the night. But, not before we saw a couple of monasteries along the way.
After a week of sleeping inside a sleeping bag in a tent, the hostel attached to the Dhankar monastery was a pleasant change.
No big treks for the next 2 days! But, going over the plans inside my head, I had a feeling that things were going to be no less exciting…