That morning after breakfast the two of us Christoph and I wanted to get going as soon as possible to check up on Sebastian and relax far away from Tun Tun but as usual Tun Tun couldn’t deliver on his estimations. Before Christoph and I descended by ourselves with Tun Tun able to catch up later, we heard reports that an Israeli had fallen from near the top of the Stok Kangri summit and suffered many injuries with word that he might have broken each of his limbs while also incurring damage to his head and chest. If that wasn’t enough reason to be thankful for my life and know how danger trekking especially mountaineering can be than I don’t know what is. Most unnerving was the fact that there didn’t seem to be much discussion and collaboration for a rescue plan with a helicopter unable to depart for another four hours, six hours after the accident itself. The two of us quickly descended better guides than Tun Tun since we dodged the previous dangerous river crossings before he led us off to a wrong path once again. What an idiot! I can’t believe I put my life relatively into his precarious hands. I wanted to make sure we had the jeep taxi waiting for us but as usual I didn’t believe him when he said it was there. I have learned to get the answers you want you need negatively direct your question so that he has no choice but to say ‘no’ because either they want to make sure you are always happy with ‘yes, yes, yes’ or their veins are simply coursing with bullshit. ‘Beauty, history, and bullshit’ continues to fit more and more as an accurate representation of India. The jeep was waiting for us but also the ponies and all our luggage two hours later even though they could have hired the taxi to go back and forth but once again they are too cheap too willing to cut corners and forget about the simple concept of customer service. I feel no pity for these people when I see them begging nagging me over and over even though I say no time and time again. I am truly fed up with it and have no problem with ignoring them and even telling them to piss off. It is not being rude, I have learned that. It is being honest and open with them knowing they don’t offer the simple line of respect to me. Travel hardens you in the right ways I find. Eventually we got to Leh where we lucked into finding Sebastian on Changspa Rd. After Christoph bought his ticket to Manali for the early, early morning and I checked up on some emails with this newfound novelty of Internet connection while also hearing the same old report that the Markha Valley and other treks at least done solo were closed off, we met up at a pizzeria for another dose of in my opinion disappointing tandoor chicken but the company of beers and friendship (corny) made up for it. We continued drinking and chatting back at the guesthouse with Christoph going deeply interestingly enough into his highly ranked, well connected career in the military even though he as always didn’t make a big deal of it. I would be spending one more night in Leh to at least relax and decided my next move. I desperately want to stay in Leh for longer since I know great trekking is within easy touch of the area but with natural complications that have swallowed up many trekking paths sometimes these choices are out of my power.
Expecting the Unexpected in India Day 241: Surviving the Odds