June 28, 2009:

Day 23 of Trek:
Rajung Karu (4,880 m) over Kongka La (5,080 m) to Rijyul (Tso Kar, at 4,560 m)
Our last day on the trek. Got up as usual and Marc and I left camp at 8 am. The river was
quite a bit lower than the previous afternoon. At first we stayed on the left bank for a while
until we were opposite the ascend of our last pass, the Kongka La.
We crossed the river and then started the ascend. It wasn't much of a pass, especially
when comparing it to the ones we had crossed during this trek. 45 minutes after we left
camp Marc and I were on top of the pass at 5,080 m. I didn't even have to stop telling me
that I really was well acclimatized by now.
When Marc and I got to the top of the pass the weather was great and the sun was out.
While we were waiting for everybody else, however, clouds came in and our last group
shot on top of a pass therefore was not as great as other ones.
We headed down the pass towards Tso Kar which was visible in the distance. The first part
was a gentle down through a big valley. We could see the village of Nuruchen from afar.
Having reached the bottom of the valley, we crossed another river which came from the
valley to the left and then walked into Nuruchen.
Nuruchen was a ghost town as its inhabitants and all their animals were at higher pastures.
We walked through the town and all doors and windows of the houses were boarded up,
quite a depressing sight actually. Some of the houses looked they could have been
thousands of miles away in the American Desert Southwest.
Leaving Nuruchen we could see Tso Kar ahead of us in the distance. To get there we had to
walk through a desert. While we could see the lake ahead of us it did not seem that we
made any progress at all. The sun was out and it was hot!
We finally reached the camp at 12:30 pm. It was a great spot a couple of hundred yards
from the lake. Between us and the lake was a boggy area, so we could not camp any closer.
After lunch, Marc and I headed down to the lakeshore. We had to make a couple of detours
around these bogs. Once at the lake, we waded into the water. Tso Kar is a salt lake and is
quite shallow. The water was warm and our feet sunk deep into the muck.
The rest of the afternoon was spend relaxing, reading and enjoying the views. At about 5
pm, our jeep arrived as well as a truck which was going to transport our gear back to Leh.
The beer and the mutton it brought was greatly appreciated!!
Dinner was great. Macaroni Bolognese with mutton meat and beer!!!!! After dinner we had a
gettogether with all our staff. We gave them tips and distributed to them some of the items
we did not need anymore. The guys were very appreciative.
Went to bed late, almost 10 pm and spend a last night in my tent under the Ladakhi stars.
View back up Kongka La and our last river crossing
Santa Fe or Ladakh???