August 5, 2007: Day One Ganden To Samye Trek
Ganden to Yama Do
Marc and I slept pretty good in our tent at an altitude of about 4,400 m. Breakfast was at 8am. Our
new guide, Tsering, who was great, arrived from Lhasa around 9 am and we went together to visit
Ganden Monastery.
Ganden Monastery was the first Gelugpa Monastery and founded in 1409 by Tsongkapa. It is at an
altitude of 4,500 m. In 1959, shortly before the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Ganden had 2,000
monks. Between 1959 and 1966 Ganden was almost completely destroyed by the Red Guards,
including artillery fire and bombing. It is being restored only since a few years and many of the
chapels and buildings have a "new" look to them.
We did not stay too long at Ganden, only about an hour. While Tsering went back to our campsite to
help the cook loading up the cows (!) with our equipment, Marc and I started our trek. From the
parking lot at Ganden, the trail starts south traversing along the side of the Angkor Ri . The trail
gradually ascents and after a couple of hours, we came to a saddle from where we had great views of
the valley which goes up to the Shug-La , the pass we were going to cross the next day. Also great
views down the valley towards Lhasa which could be seen in the distance.We kept following the trail
which slowly descended and after a while we reached Hepu village. We reached Hepu 3 hours after
leaving Ganden.
Having read everywhere how viscious those Tibetan Mastiff dogs are, Marc and I walked big circles
around houses where we heard loud barking We were also a little worried that neither our guide nor
our cook with the cows had caught up with us. So we decided to rest for a while at the river crossing
at the entrance to the valley which would bring us up to the Shug-La. After a while, Tsering came. He
was waiting for us a while up at the saddle but then he figured we'd probably already passed that
spot. We are not that slow...
While Tsering waited for our cook, Marc and I started walking up the valley. As there were a few
more groups doing the same trek, we followed the other groups' yak men.  For the next two hours,
we hiked through mainly grassy meadows until we were at a place called Yama Do where there are
extensive campsites. Also, there were quite a few Tibetan nomads camped in the area. Marc and I sat
down and waited for Tsering, our cook and our equipment. Once they arrived, they decided to
continue for another 10-15 minutes to an even better campground and away from the other groups.
This was a great camping spot, right next to the creek at an altitude of about 4,600 m. We had a visit
by several nomad kids and then just sat there and watched the beautiful surroundings. Dinner at 7
pm was veggie soup, french fries made from fresh potatoes, some other veggie which was very tasteful
but I never caught the name of it and yak/noodle stew. It was delicious!
We sat around for a while talking and went to bed around 8:30 pm. The only drawback to this great
camping spot was that our tent was erected on a slight downhill pitch, so we continously slid down
our mattress at night. Slept pretty good despite the altitude and the uneven ground.
Lunch Break. In
the midle of the
picture you can see
the valley we were
going up later that