Travel & Tours

The Trek to My Breath By Himani Chandorkar Chadar Trek Blog

 

STATION…… What a large proportion of our time in future planning is being invested in……with little thought given to the imprevisible world we live in… Nothing can make you feel this life dynamism as nature can……and this is the major experience you will take after walking the Mighty Chadar Trek.

The enormity of the mountains makes you feel so tiny, humble…..and nature’s sheer power to make your plans go for a toss can make you feel confused.

Trek to Chadar – “Life in the Capsule.”……this is also the nature of this tour, it gives you a complete experience of life……in 7 days flat, it takes you up and down in every way possible of life!

So what is this Chadar trek?

During the winter, the Ladakh temperature fell to -35 °C. Many villages are shut down as the snow blocks the roads, one of them being Zanskar Valley. The village of Zanskar is connected to Leh by the wild, rustic Zanskar River, which in winter freezes with its top layer turning into an ice sheet.

For hundreds of years local people used this route… that walks more than 70 kilometers across the risky Chadar to Leh during the winter for trade and transportation….but in recent years this route has become increasingly popular with adventure lovers as one of the wildest treks in the world and Maybe the only one on a frozen River where you walk.

The whole trek leads you through steep canyons as you walk on the frozen river and open views as never before seen, overwhelming you with the beauty, enormity, and power of the countryside.     

This trek definitely needs to be fit for extreme conditions…. but above all this trek is mentally highly demanding. Mental strength, perseverance, grace, readiness to face up to everything without abandonment……… You cannot just think of the Mighty Chadar walking in any of these with a shortcoming.

When I left Baroda, I never thought about the change of life before me.

Trek Chadar has been like no other journey for me……

an experience, both metaphorically and literally, that took my breath away…..

And the journey begins to Chadar

On a cold Feb morning, we arrived in Leh. The airplane manager announced outside temperature when the flight arrived….-10°C.. Had never experienced temperatures below zero before… And so he was very excited and anxious to know what he felt like.

As I and my husband Rohit were advised, they were already dressed up in four layers to ensure that the sudden temperature change was not shocked. And…the layers ensured that when we left the aircraft, we were quite comfortable…

On a cold Feb morning, we arrived in Leh. The airplane manager announced outside temperature when the flight arrived….-10°C. Had never experienced temperatures below zero before… And so he was very excited and anxious to know what he felt like.

As I and my husband Rohit were advised, they were already dressed up in four layers to ensure that the sudden temperature change was not shocked. And…the layers ensured that when we left the aircraft, we were quite comfortable…

Our bodies had sufficient time to adjust to the low oxygen levels. So we spent two days doing little, except a visit to the markets to buy gumboots, warmers, socks, etc. We went right to the hotel.

The day finally came……and we had our bags and ourselves loaded into a Xylo already loaded with four porters and our Chamba trek guide and everything they had, so that our journey to Chilling began…the beginning point of a hike..65kms from Leh.

But as our tour operator was unable to find more people… It was only 2 of us with our guide and porters, finally. We had expected a group with us.

We stopped at the Patharsahib Gurudwara on our way to Chilling….. It’s in the center of none…. But it somehow infuses an unexplained sense of peace every time I visit this place.

At last, it took about 4 hours before we reached Chilling. Because of a landslide, we had to stop a long time before the usual beginning point of the trek.

By evening it got much colder and our team of porters and guide cooked up a nice meal of khichadi as requested by us. Sitting in their tent where the stove would burn was very comforting as that was the warmest that we could be on the trek!

Our guide Chamba and our four porters Nima, Dorjey, Tashi, and Thingles had a team of 5 outstanding men. The effort they made to make us comfortable and safe through our 6 days in Chadar is unmatched, and I never was able to thank them enough.

After half a bowl of khichadi was cooked by our exceptional team (thanks to the loss of appetite), we retired to our tents where we had been carefully zipped in super warm sleeping bags.

As you experience the transformation of the campsite all day long….the cold ensures that all our movements are slow and we finally completed our morning tasks to prepare for the trek. At 9:30 we set out to the next Shingra Koma campground.

I had been walking for a few hours now, now an hour away from our camping site…but by now extreme fatigue had been developing and I felt strangely over-drought……thought I needed to get out of the 10 km walk…didn’t realize my symptoms were increasing gradually. The campground reached again……a gorgeous man on the side of the river………..and decided to rest in his tent for some time.

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