May 25 2016
(continued from) At 11 AM we started our trek walking along the streams with super cold water, so cold that we couldn’t even taste it. The plan was to reach Chang Ma camp site (13100 ft), have lunch and then hike further to Manokorma Camp (14200 ft). The initial 2km of walk along the stream had no inclined terrain, but later as we walked around the mountains, the terrain got steep. The weather was very pleasant with the sun out for most part of the day with the temperature at around 10 degree (Celsius). On the way Kalyan had us try these plant shoots and local fruits grown along the trail. And after 3 hours of walk we reached Chang Ma campsite. Eat wheat bread and eggs we carried along with us for lunch.
Hiking to Stok Kangri is preferably done during July and August month with the weather being pleasant and also very less snow enroute to the summit. And during these times, given the large number of people who come hiking to this place, Chang Ma was there first campsite we were told. I was surprised when our sherpa told us that they set up a hotel at this place selling good food and snacks for the hikers. Now since we’re here off season, there was no hint of such hotel and the place was completely remote. We only stopped here for food and then walked further to Manokorma Camp.
The hike to Manokorma was through these narrow trails between huge mountains with very cool rock formation. I was kind of reminded of Avatar movie here. The place was really beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed the hike to Manokorma camp. Slowly the temperature got low and after a point we spotted snow for the first time in the trail.
Manasa’s a cousin of a senior from college and I hadn’t met her until this trip. But that’s the best part of hiking. You can make a good friend in someone very soon and it feels like you have a lot to talk already. I’ve made many friends hiking and I know for sure that I would have hardly spoken with these guys had I met them on a luxury trip to a tourist place or a city. Going on hikes, you will get to know someone very soon and make a good friend in them by the end of the expedition.
Before we reached the campsite, other sherpas including Vijay had already started working on pitching tents and setting up the place for cooking. All the gears for the entire expedition including water and groceries were moved to the campsite with the help of donkeys. It was around 5:00pm in the evening by the time we reached the campsite. Our sherpas served us with tea immediately and later a good healthy dinner. During dinner we also had some funny discussions with our sherpas, getting to know them better, about their childhood and college days.
Later after going to sleep, I struggled with AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) in the middle of the night and was forced to get out of the tent to get some fresh air. The pain in the back of the head was very bad and I was forced to take deep breadth. And I wasn’t alone for Manasa in the other tent had some tough time too. We managed not to disturb the sherpas in the middle of the night and all five of us sat together in one of the tent for sometime before slipping into the sleeping bag again later.
to be continued…