The rest at Murgo prepared us for the trek through the
Murgo gorge about which much had been written, although apprehension
remained in the mind about the difficulties and the long distance to be
covered at this height. After good B/fast we hit the trail which moved down
a side nala before climbing up on the other side and soon we were at Kalon
Chumik. Slight warm water flowed there and the area was green around the
water. The trail thereafter moved along the side of the mountain and as it
had broken for some part we moved down to the Burtse nala and took off our boots.
The cold water was not as much a problem as were the pebbles on the nala
bed. Five minutes walk took us to the trail and we happily moved along it.
The gradient was not much and it was easy going. Far in the distance we saw
the two persons riding, who had crossed us at the beginning of the trail. Slowly we
moved towards the nala again and reached the point where it needed to be
crossed again. The crossing was smooth and the trail was also good. Another crossing took us to the same side again. The section was now strewn
with boulders and the water gushed past with great speed. Some effort and we
crossed the water again and moved up the trail on the left bank. Slowly we
moved out onto the wide river bed where water flowed in different channels.
The game of crossing and re-crossing the water began in quite earnest. I
missed my sandals as walking on the pebbles bare foot was a big problem, in
fact bigger than putting feet in cold water. The game continued for km after km
with boots hanging from my shoulders. Some respite to this was brought as
the trail moved on to the right bank of the river and passed through huge
land slide terrain. End of this section brought us back on the river bed and the Burtse camp also came into site, which was a huge relief, even
though it was still three km away. The stay at camp was peaceful after a
long day and we had another long day ahead with the climb up to the Depsang
The night passed off peacefully and since we still had
long walk on the Depsang river bed, I kept the sandals with me. But today the water
was flowing in such a way that we did not have to remove the boots except on
a couple of occasions. The walk was long and finally after a number of turns
the red hill came into view at the far end of the trail. Slowly we reached
the place next to the river where the now red water of the river was coming
out of two vertical walls and the trail moved up the slope to bypass it. The side
of the hill had cairns marking the place and we had reached Qazi Langar. A
short rest and we moved up the trail which after small climb moved to the
river and we crossed its fast flowing waters. The climb to the Depsang la
started immediately thereafter as the trail turned up the right hand gorge
which was dry at that time. The initial steep trail led to a wider valley and the
trail also climbed less steeply. Finally we reached the open place where the
trail moved in various directions but the trail towards Depsang la was
marked with jerry cans and moved to our right. Though it seemed quite near I
stopped nearly ten times before reaching the top of Depsang la. All this
while I was concentrating on my breathing and climbing and did not look
around. However, as I reached the top and turned around to see the trail
leading up to the pass which I had just climbed I was confronted with the
most awesome view. A range of huge snow covered mountains lined up the skyline
and Shahi Kangri dominated the scene. As I again turned around to see the
trail ahead I was greeted with the endless wide open spaces. The skeleton
trail was now lined with discarded jerry cans, of which there is no dearth.
The trail was more or less over a plane which had major ups and downs at the
cris-crossing nalas. On to our left at a distance was the Aksai Chin occupied
by China. We slowly moved towards our left and finally reached the track
junction post some eight km from the la. The camp was open to winds coming
from all the directions. It was at a vantage point giving us the
unrestricted view of the Depsang plains. The plains ended and the snow
covered mountains rose out of no where. It was as if the end of the table
was lined with huge snow covered mountains. No where you get this type of
scene in the Himalaya, may be except from Tibet plains. It is some thing to
be seen to be believed. As the sun was setting the moon rose giving a
mysteries look to the Depsang plains and the mountains.
The next days walk was a mere pittance in front of the
last two days walk as we had only 12 km and that also on a descending trail.
The walk was simple and the crossing of Chip Chap river was without any
problem. The only surprise was the width of Chip Chap river which was huge.
The Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) camp was across another nala running parallel to the Chip Chap river.
Well we were at the camp soon and the weather which had been good all these
days started to get bad. The clouds came and it became quite cold. All these
years, I was under the impression that DBO was on the Chip Chap river
and on an open plain. I was wrong and the place is a bit away from the
river and is surrounded by mountains on all sides unlike the Trek junction.
The next day was
all white and it seemed we may not be able to go to KK pass as
we had planned.