Trans Himalaya 2019 – Dibling to Stayangs, Aug 7

The night at Dibling at 3900m was pleasant and warm. I woke up around 6:30am, packed up and decided to have breakfast after a few hours of walking. I left Dibling walking through beautiful lush green farmlands interwoven with yellow flowers.A clear trail runs left (downstream) above the Orna river. Frequent horse droppings point to a regular hiking route. After Dibling the valley becomes slightly more narrow. Green bushes and small trees grow near to the river inside the valley.At 8am the stomach demands attention and I stop near a small side valley where I find a good amount of dry branches to light up a fire. My last ration: 2 Maggie noodle packets and veggie soup for breakfast.As I continue downstream the Orna river the valley cuts deeper into the surrounding mountains. A clear path nicely crafted in olden days connecting Lingshed and Dibling remains on the left side of the stream.Around 1.6km before the left turn towards the Barmai La the old path appears destroyed and a recent built bridge guides hikers to the opposite side of the stream where a small trail continues. On the left bank one can see the remains of the old path high on the steep rocks above the stream.The valley turns into a more narrow gorge squeezed between vertical rock faces. The path continues on the right side just above the Orna river which gains force with every side stream joining.Finally, a few hundreds meters before taking left towards the Barmai La pass one has to ford across a turbulent Orna stream. I chose a wide section of the stream but still the water is waist deep and the force nearly lifts me of my feet.The left turn towards Barmai La is marked by Buddhist prayer flags and a small rock shelter. Initially narrow, the side valley widens up as we climb up a frequented trail.The trail runs left above where the valley is a narrow gorge and descends back into the stream where it flattens out. A number of snow bridges remain above the river.Along the way a young boy is cooking food and calls me over for tea. He came from Lingshed to graze his donkeys in the surrounding meadows. One of the younger donkeys died in a rock slide.As the valley climbs up towards the pass beautiful flowers dot the trail. The valley slopes although rocky moraines remain green nurtured by recent rains and snow melt.We finally reach the Barmai La pass at 4670m giving – as usual – stunning views on both valleys. Snow clads the surrounding high ranges seperating both valleys. Buddhist prayer flags and recently inscribed Mani stones decorate the pass.The trail gradually contours down from the pass along the left valley slope towards Lingshed. Many horse hoof steps mark the frequented trail. The green farmlands of Lingshed can be seen from far away dotting the barren slopes of the valley below a steep vertical rockface.An ancient gompa made up of countless small square quarters stacked on top of each other overlooks the village below. The gompa sits at the base of the vertical rock face. Jullay! A monk greets me as I pass by. Having walked 9 hours from Dibling and out of food, I enquery for any nearby hotels.The hotel appears to be closed mid afternoon and without hesitation the monk from the nearby village of Stumpatta invites me into his quarter. He offers me Kashmiri tea and starts preparing lunch for me.He pressure cooks rice and goes out to grab a bunch of fresh veggies from the gompa’s green house. Within 30 minutes a fresh, sumptuous meal is presented to me. Food never tasted so yummy and fresh in recent memory.I thank him for his unexpecting hospitality, give some money for his younger sister in school and continue my way towards Stayangs, my destination for the day.From the gompa at 3800m I climb up to the Netuke La pass at 4430m and then descend towards the nearby hamlet of Stumpatta, a green patch above a huge canyon flowing down to the mighty Zanskar river.At 6:30pm I knock a few doors at Stayangs enquerying for food and one young lady agrees to prepare 15 jam-butter spread chapattis for 7Rs a piece. Most other homes are not interested to prepare food without “home stay” which brings them in lucrative cash.I leave my two power banks for overnight charging at the home, pack up my tasty chapattis and pitch up in the beautiful farmlands around Stayangs below a cloudy moonlight sky. Soon thunder and lightning are rumbling the valley and it starts raining. I huddle comfortably warm in my quilt zipped up in my rainproof bivy as it pours cats and dogs.