June 5, 2009:

Day 1 of Trek:
Drive to Jingchan and hike to Rumbak Sumdo (3,875 m)
After spending the early morning hours on the toilet, I was trying to get ready for our trek. I
took my first Cipro at breakfast (yes, I was hungry, a good sign) and packed my stuff. We
left the hotel at 8:30 am, but not before I took 3 (!) immodium tablets. We boarded a jeep
which would bring us to Jingchan from where we would start our trek. However, our first
stop was Spitok Monastery, located on the outskirts of Leh with a wonderful view of the
Indus Valley and the airport runway of Leh.
Spitok sits on top of a hill. Several layers of
monastic buildings are crowned by the main
buildings of the gompa. We first visited the
Chirkhang, the prayer hall which contains a
seated Sakyamuni statue. Our next stop was
the Durkhang, which towers over the
Courtyard and finally, we emerged all the
way on the rooftop of the monastery. Up
here, we followed the progress of a
passenger plane which needed three tries to
successfully land at Leh airport. Good thing
we had a better pilot when we landed!!
I was feeling better and the immodium sure did its job. So we continued by jeep, went over
a bridge to the other side of the Indus and then for several miles on barren flats to our
trailhead at Jingchan. We saw several groups who started the trek at the bridge outside
Spitok Monastery. I was quite glad that we drove all the way to Jingchan as the trail to there
was dusty, hot and totally unattractive!
At Jingchan, we met our horsemen and their horses. While Lakpa and crew were busy
loading all our stuff onto the horses, Kim, Graham, Marc and I started our hike to Rumbak
Sumdo. It was about 10:30 am.
The trail followed the bottom of a valley and
was neither steep nor difficult, a great first
day. Also there were enough big boulders
to take care of the remaining bacteria as the
immodium slowly lost its punch. We had to
cross the river several times and got some
great pictures of yaks carrying long wooden
poles. We had lunch at the river.
We arrived at Rumbak Sumdo early afternoon. Our horses had overtaken us earlier and the
camp was almost set up already. I felt much better but opted against a hike to the nearby
village and rather took a nap. Marc, Graham and myself each had a Big Agnes tent for
ourselves. It was quite comfortable.
We had dinner at 6:30 pm. Our cook made us tuna burritos with beans and veggies. I went
to bed around 9 pm. It was quite cold. At around 11:30 pm I had to make one last visit to the
loo. As we were in Snow Leopard country I was afraid there was one lurking around waiting
to eat me, but as the moon was brightly illuminating everything, I felt relatively safe. I then
slept pretty good until about 5:30 am.