Trans Himalaya 2019 – Hanumil to Stayangs, July 15-16

After a failed attempt to reach Nerak village through the Takti La due to high water currents I decided to try my luck on the other side of the Zanskar river to cross over towards Leh. I crossed a new bridge near Pidmo village which had no bottom surface yet except a few wooden planks allowing people to walk across.Pidmo is a green oasis in the barren landscape surrounding the Zanskar valley. Lush green farmlands irrigated from the side streams and sprinkled with yellow, blue flowers in between. A stark contrast with the surrounding brown, barren rock desert.Some 5K further downstream you pass through the last village of Hanumil which is another picturesque location. A few typical Ladhaki houses in a green oasis against the barren backdrop of the surrounding hills. I checked for food before heading into no man’s land in a house marked home stay.I was kindly invited by the lady of the house for tea and Tibetan bread and chapattis. After an intense 7 hour morning hike I was starving and indulged in countless teas and breads. When asked how much I owed her she told me 10Rs! I gave her 50Rs and by 3pm moved on towards the Parfi La pass to make the most of the remaining daylight.In the outskirts of Hanumil I met the same trio of young hikers whom I met the previous day after the Namste La. They had also gotten stuck on the stream and were heading this way. Two French guys and one from Holland. They seemed to pitch up early by 3pm wherever I met them.After Hanumil the trail proceeds on the left side of the mighty Zanskar river, sometimes climbing up, sometimes just above the river. Thebl path is clear and regular horse droplings points to a route frequented by hikers.After a while the trail climbs up more steeply towards the Parfi La giving a bird’s eye view on the Zanskar river cutting deep into the surrounding mountains. On the opposite side one can see the newly built highway which would eventually connect Zanskar with Leh.Near the top of the Parfi La at 3900m one can see the river snaking through the mighty interior Zanskarian mountain range towards the Indus valley. Building a road through this landscape seems like an outstanding engineering feat.The Parfi La is nothing but a shortcut across the ridge where the Orna river joins the Zanskar. From the pass the trail hair pins down steeply and crosses a bridge across the Orna stream. Following a group of horsemen returning from a completed hike, I climb up another 500m towards the campsite of Snertse.At Snertse I meet two alpine style hikers from Prague who kindly offer me tea and dinner. Both are geographists on a 3 week hike through the region. Loaded with heavy bags, they are surprised to see me going light and fast. We chat up about a variety of topics and settle down for the night next to each other.The next morning I resume my upstream hike towards the Hanuman La at 4730m. Initially more of a narrow, steep gorge, the valley flattens and widens up higher up. I come across several snow bridges and put on my puff jacket as the cold wind blows through the valley and it starts snowing.A small stupa and colourful Tibetan prayer flags mark the Hanuman La pass which offers stunning views on the village of Lingshed far below. On the way down I meet several European hikers who are climbing up accompanied by guides and horses carrying their (lots of) luggage.The trail hair pins down steeply towards a stream and then climbs up on the opposite side to cross a small ridge towards Lighshed. Several parties of horses are carrying up heavy loads of luggage behind the hikers.From the top of the ridge one takes in mesmerizing views of the lush green farm lands around Lingshed in front of huge rising vertical mountain cliffs. Several streams running down to irrigate the farmlands. I have lunch in a home of a friendly villager who explains that the number of inhabitants is reducing as youngsters are moving to the cities.After lunch I pay a visit to the beautiful Gompa located on top of the village. It consists of many small square homes stacked on top of each other. Buddhist monks are walking around the monastery while various tourists are wandering around.Next I proceed my way climbing out of Lingshed towards a small pass the Netuke La 4380m to the next village of Stayangs 4100m located in the next side valley some 5K away. I meet a trio of Swiss lady hikers who have been visiting the region since 1991 and doing social work in LingshedI share dinner with them in a small home stay and pitch up outside. The night is quite cold compared to the previous day so I squeeze inside my bivy to cut out the cold wind.

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