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Over the Zanskar Part 6

In most Himalayan treks once the summit is achieved the trekkers go into a relaxed mode as
they would generally be on their way back descending, taking other routes or even covering
more distance in a single day to complete the trek in the next 2 or 3 days. The return might be
on lesser days as it’sdecent and if a circular trek, there might be other shorter routes. The
excitement of having summited the peak and the eagerness to finish the trek is generally seen in
trekkers once they complete the summit.

But on this trek, one has to keep the same momentum on even after the summit has been
achieved as one has to literally take the same route back to reach Tilad Do, the base camp. So
summit is literally 50% trek done assuming that the return walk won’t be much eventful than
what is generally expected.

Trek Leader – Mahendra Singh

The next morning we started making our way to Tibb Cave. Tibb Cave is the most happening
base camp on this trek as there is a very little place available to set up camps here. So most
trekkers from all groups set their tents at one place making the area look like a small colony
from a fairy tale. With all groups having their own fun activity in torch lights and multiple
campfires, the place looks like one happy campsite from some Harry Potter episode. Amongst a
lot of groups there, one particular group of three trekkers entertained the whole of the campsite
in a very funny way. They projected their torches against a huge cliff while appeared like a
huge screen facing the main campsite. The three trekkers (two boys and one girl) then started
dancing in front of the torches, projecting shadow dance on a huge cliff curtain, super
entertaining all the trekkers at the campsite. People clapped, whistled and cheered them and
the guys simply stole the show. Treks are all about these unplanned fun activities that keep
happening as you keep traveling your way.

The next morning was another eventful morning for me. I generally get up at 04:00 AM during
the treks as I love to experience the mornings when I am in the mountains (or generally when I
travel on leisure or adventures). As I woke to my 04:00 AM alarm in my phone and went
through my morning routine, sleeping bags were picked up from our tents. As we were packing
up to move I realized that I couldn’t find my phone. After thoroughly checking the tent I was
sure that the phone was missing. I had last seen the phone when the alarm rang so I surely had
my phone until then. Trek the Himalayas team started looking for my phone. The only
possibility was the phone could have been in the sleeping bag as we keep our phones in them
while we sleep to keep them warm and retain battery. The team checked all sleeping bags thrice
to find the phone, to no result. Tents were packed carefully and the porters were constantly
looking for the phone. I told the team to let it go as it was my personal responsibility and I should have been more careful. The porters have a lot of work in winding up the tents and
moving to the next campsite and resetting the camp there. It was very embarrassing as they
now had an extra task at hand because of me. Moreover, they were concerned that the trekkers
should not feel that they may have found the phone but were not returning it. (I have trekked
with TTH before and it is my most trusted trekking company. Moreover, local porters are the
most honest people you will meet during the treks. Mountain people are sweet, hardworking
and extremely honest. They inherit lives values from the Mountains so the question of
dishonesty doesn’t arrive. I was sure, as long as the phone is somewhere in the camping
material I will get it back either from my fellow trekkers or the porters. But we were at one of
the most crowded campsites of all days, and if someone else has found the phone, then the
probability of getting it back was rare.

We finally decided to move on. As the walk started the guilt of losing the phone was replaced
with the joy of getting a new phone. I kept thinking of new phones in the market and trying to
remember the prices. I was close to mentally zeroing on on some OnePlus phone when suddenly
a porter came from behind announcing that they had found the phone. Though utterly surprised
I really didn’t know if I should be happy on getting the phone back or unhappy that now I
may not buy a new one.

One of the porters after packing all the tents went back to the campsite and moved a bit of
sand away from the area where my tent was set, and after a while found the phone buried
under the sand. It had apparently flipped out of the tent when sleeping bags were pushed out
(by me) and fallen into the sand outside gradually getting buried in, in an hour or two. The
porters had literally proved their integrity and ensured they didn’t give up on my phone, though
I had myself given up.

We took the same route to come back to the Shingra Koma campsite where we called it a day.
We had to wade through the waters and rocky mountain again today as we came across a
broken patch on the Chadar. We camped exactly at the same site in Shingra Koma where we
stayed on our way up to Naerak. Today was an evening to play one of the funniest games I
learned during this trek – Mafia and how can I complete this story without mentioning the
game. I learned this game of wits during this trek from my fellow trekkers and played three
rounds of it mastering its hands on.

As this was the final night of our camping dinner went on for long. Even Mahendra our trek
leader who would generally shoo us off after dinner to sleep seemed pretty chilled out and
rather insisted that we stay back in the dinner tent and talk. As we got done with our dinner
the porters opened another treat. We had a small thanksgiving function for them and that’s when they all decided to sing Ladakhi & Kashmiri songs for us. This was the first time in the
entire trek when all 14 support team members from TTH joined us in the dinner tent. As one of
the guys grabbed kerosene tin and started playing it up for rhythm all the others started
singing. In a few minutes, the entire mood changed and loud but extremely melodious Kashmiri
songs took over the entire campsite. What started as a quick thanking event changed
completely into an experience we would never forget.

While it is quite a routine that on the last night of the treks everyone meets and thanks and
makes promises to stay in touch, this farewell was like never before. The energy and music went
so high that finally local porters from other campsites also joined in. Our dark, cold & gloomy
dinner tent became the most happening place that night. We could never thank the porters
enough for that night. Posting a small clip from the tent here. I am sure you will enjoy.

What a day to post this video. I had scheduled to release this one as a last post from Kashmir, just before will start releasing my 7 articles from tomorrow on my experience on the Chadar Trek. This is a farewell video on the last day of the night when our local Ladakhi friends sang for us their folk songs. Oh!! What an evening. I have received so many farewells uptill now, but this one was like never before. The folk singing went on for more than 45 mins in that small, dark and cold tent of ours. An amazing experience. While this was scheduled to release today, also came the sad news of actress Sridevi passing away. I humbly dedicate my this farewell memory to the legendary actress, for the life of us actors is nothing but a continuous struggle towards a successful exit.

A post shared by Nikhil Raje (@nikhil_raje) on

The temperature seemed to be pretty normal as I was completely a part of the Chadar by now.
The hardest part of treks is here when they are coming to an end. The sheer imagination that in
a day or two we shall part from our treks, from the mountains, from our trek buddies and the
trek teams is indeed painful. I have experienced this after every single trek. The mountains,
people, the weather – one becomes so much of everything around. With that painful thought of
parting away from the mountains in a few days with a rather heavy heart, I succumbed to deep

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Written by His Favorite Child

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