I trekked along the Markha Valley in Aug 2013 with a guide – Dorje – whom I found from one of the travel agencies located on Changspa road in Leh. We did not carry tents or cooking implements and stayed at homes in the villages along the way. The highest point in the trek was Gongmaru La, 5250 m. During the trek, I saw only foreigners (other than the local guides and poney men) with the exception of one Indian woman who was traveling in a group. The trek over 6 days cost me Rs 9000 and this included the charges for the travel agency, guide, food and lodging at the home stays and taxi for commuting to/from Leh.
Aug 20th: Leh (3400 m) – Skiu (3350 m)
On the morning of the 20th, we took a cab from Leh to the Zanskar valley road. The road was damaged by rain and the cab dropped us a couple of km short of the ropeway across the Zanskar from where the trekking route started.
There was a long wait at the ropeway caused by a large expedition with a lot of luggage who had reached the spot earlier. After crossing the Zanskar, we soon reach the right bank of the Markha which flows into the Zanskar. Our night stay is in Skiu village.
Aug 21: Skiu (3350 m) to Markha (3800 m)
Aug 22: Markha to Hangkar (4000 m)
Our host at Hangkar is Shiring Doshkar Tamalung. She runs the Tamalung homestay. Her children are away in school in Leh and her husband also stays away because of his work. Besides looking after guests at her home, she also has horses to take care of.
Aug 23: Hangkar (4000 m) to Nimaling campsite (4840 m)
Today was to be a good climb – over 800 m. I was fortunate that our host at the homestay arranged a horseman to carry my luggage to Nimaling and further over the Gong Maru La to Chumdo. Setting out, I came upon a pair of Chukar absorbed in each other. Quite some distance from the house, on the way to Nimaling I was surprised to see our host again. She had got there apparently looking for her horse which had strayed.
Aug 24: Nimaling (4840 m) – over the Gong Maru La (5250 m) – Chumdo
This was the toughest day of the trek. I was gasping for breath every step of the way. Soon I started counting steps and pausing after a count of 50. After some more time I think this reduced to 20 steps. My guide took over even the day pack that I was carrying to lighten my load. I was carrying only a water bottle. AFter crossing the pass, the trail soon follows another stream all the way to Chumdo village and then the road head. The stream flows into the Indus.
Aug 25: Chumdo – road head – Leh
About Author – Kannan is a free lance researched and writer. The original blog was published at wanderlust