After spending about 4 nights in different camps along the Chadar (frozen river Zanskar), we woke up one morning in Tibb to heavy snowfall. It was hard to emerge out of the cozy little sleeping bag but the snowy morning had a magical feel to it. The orange beaked ravens hovered around impatiently waiting to show us the way since we had come home to the camp site along with them the previous evening. As soon as we started walking after polishing off the warm breakfast, the sun peeped through the clouds at the edge of the mountain top. Chadar was being layered with snow as we walked, not sparing our caps and noses but the softness of it gave way to the brittle icy layer and even icier water below at different points in time but the gumboots aptly came to our rescue.
The 13 km walk from Tibb to Shingra Koma was eventful, sometimes on snow, sometimes on ice, sometimes through water and more often than not through stones and high rocky cliffs and that too braving wind chill and continuous snow fall. We had walked this path 2 days ago, but now it all seemed so different. I was living life through those unpredictable moments when a surprise unfolded at every bend. Is it my eyes, is it nature or is it just a break from monotony that I had secretly complained to myself about 2 days ago !! The pristine white and hard Chadar where we played and glided on snow was now a watery mass, gurgling through the gorges!! What about all the pictures that I had planned to take, what about that stone I wanted to rest my back on, what about that icy layer I wanted to touch my forehead to in gratitude !! What about ???? We had no option but to climb the high cliffs along the Chadar, often tricky and arduous.
I stood at the edge of the high cliff and gasped at the flowing Chadar through the narrowest point between the mountains below and a turquoise blue icy layer rippled through and stared back at me. Ah !! the lazily stretched out beauty would melt the hardest soul and it so appeared that the hardened old dame in Chadar had given away to the vagaries of youth and Lord Tennyson rang in my ears …“The old order changeth yielding place to the new and god fulfills himself in many ways”. I have always worshiped nature in all its form and while as humans we think life is stretched out over years, life thinks otherwise. It was yet another reminder to live in the moment and leave the What’s and Why’s behind.
While I regained myself on a slippery stone, luxuriously sipping warm water, my lips curled in satisfaction as it made its way through my gut. I was instantly warmed to face the next challenge of gliding on fragile ice sheets to reach the camp site in Shingra Koma !! The last of the trek mates slowly trooped in, overcoming fear and awkwardness in the difficult terrain. It was nearly 5 hours since we set out and though it had stopped snowing, the sun had happily disappeared between the mountains and we had miles to go. We walked in a single file, the click clack sound of the micro spikes on ice for company. While the destination was same and so was the path, each one of us experienced Chadar in our own way through snow, ice and high cliffs!!