Trekking Day Three

Day three was the most pleasant of all. Having 'bagged' the highest pass and endured the blizzard yesterday anything now would be a piece of cake. The sun was gorgeous and the snow pristine - totally untouched. We started by crossing a semi-frozen stream (with one of us getting a rejuvenating cold foot-bath). From then on it was up and up on top of the frozen snow. The glare was even stronger than the day before (I had my chin burnt from underneath because of the sunshine reflected from the snow), but it wasn't cold. Spirits were high and the sky of unbelievable clarity and depth. When we stopped chatting the silence was absolute.

Soon we started crossing the marshy meadow jumping from one clump of grass to another (second picture from left at the bottom). Whoever didn't get it right got wet. Our aim - the Chetur-La pass at 5,100m (16,800 ft) - was clearly visible and seemed so close... and yet it took another 4 hours to reach it. I admired our yak drivers who controlled the 45-strong herd with a variety of whistling signals. Needless to say that the yaks were ahead of us in no time in spite of having left the last camp an hour or so after us.

The pass was reached, prayer flags unfurled, pictures taken, blessings recited. We started our descent. Though steep, it was indeed a piece of cake after yesterday. The only problem was that is was so very, very, very looong. These Tibetan valleys are sooo looong! Eventually, after some 12 hours we reached the camp. It was set up at the confluence of two small rivers and some skill was required to cross the final makeshift bridge made of tree trunks thrown across the stream. Although still at a decent altitude - 4,450m (14,700 ft) there was no snow (!) and we saw the first trees - willows to my surprise. A real camp fire was a true pleasure. Our confidence in the success of the venture was growing. After a freshly cooked dinner (no preserves or tins!) we went to sleep thinking of the green valleys of tomorrow.

Day four though brought a rude awakening.

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