Thursday, August 16, 2012

Six day trek through the Sham Valley of Ladakh

Meditation on the sand dunes at Hunder, in theNubra valley on the full moon  in July
(photo by Klaus Hintzen)
Hi friends,
After the ten day retreat at the Mahabodhi center a group of nine of us took a six day excursion to integrate our mindfulness practice in daily life. Well, it was not exactly daily life, but a challenge nonetheless.
We first drove out to Temisgam village, a three hour drive west of Leh and settled in a guesthouse. In the afternoon we took a warm up hike up a secluded valley to the lovely Tsekarmo Monastery. I had visited here in 1995 and conducted a ten day meditation camp here then. It is a special place, so I wanted to visit again and show the others this special place. They are in the process of putting the final touches on a brand new big Gompa building and retreat center.

Leaving the Temisgam Gompa, walking up the road to Tsekarmo

The new Gompa at Tsekarmo

The ancient Juniper tree under which I had conducted the ten day retreat seventeen years ago

The secluded Tsekarmo Valley

In the spring fed garden

Temisgam Gompa on the walk  back down 
The next day we began the actual trek leaving Temisgam trekking through the village of  Ang to Hemis Shukpachan. It took about five hours and included going up and down over two passes.

Leaving the village of Ang behind, heading up to the first pass

Atop the first pass

You can barely make out the people steeply descending on the loose dirt

A welcome rest at the bottom by the desert rose bush
The next pass with the village of Hemis Shukpachan in the distance

Taking a rest under the grove of juniper trees after which the village is named

Leaving Hemis Shukpachan the next day for Yangtang 
Reaching the crest of yet another pass before the steep descent to Yangtang

Yangtang Village with campground in the foreground

Guesthouse owner making curd the old way

Now the fun and excitement began. We made a side trip down the canyon from Yangtang to visit the big Rizong Monastery. I had made this same trek in 1995 and the trail down to Rizong then was not too bad. But in 2010 there was a big storm in Ladakh and many rivers flooded, including the river in this valley we are following to get to Rizong Monastery. The old trail was wiped out in places and the course of the river changed. It necessitated crossing the river seven times by wading in knee deep rushing water or on flimsy logs hastily thrown over the river. Let the photos illustrate.

Walking merrily down the first part of the canyon...then

Crossing with the help of our guide

Trail up the canyon slope ani't no piece of cake either

Finally...firm ground
Leaving Yangtang the next day for Lekir

The one house valley of Sumdo

Heading up to the last pass

The first sight of Likir Monastery

Maitreya Buddha statue

View from the Monastery roof

Walking down to our lodge in Likir village

View from our lodge

The confluence of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers at Nimmu
Re-entering the Leh Valley

Back at the Mahabodhi retreat center just in time for the sunset

I am now leading a series of Three day retreats at the Mahabodhi retreat center thru August.

Here is a group photo of the retreat from July 31t-August 3rd.