Dalai Lama Trek Diary 2018
By Robin Langrishe
Thursday 17th May 2018
So after all the anticipation, training and fundraising, we’re off.
Chris (Medical Director), Fran (Clinical Services Director) and me, Robin (Fundraising Director) took the nine-hour flight to Delhi and met the other 12 members of our group. We visited the Red Fort before catching our overnight sleeper train to Pathankot in North West India.
Friday 18th May 2018
After an interesting yet fun 10-hour journey on a sleeper carriage that resembled a train from the 1980’s (on which doors between carriages were left open to increase ventilation!) we arrived and took our minibus to The Sky Heaven Hotel in Dharamsala – home of The Dalai Lama.
We visited the Dalai Lama monastery. The man himself was in residence but unfortunately we were too late to see him.
Saturday 19th May 2018
After a short 30-minute car journey up the mountain our trek was about to begin. Our bags were loaded onto our small ponies and we set off through the pine forest to Ghere village. The terrain was undulating with steep sides, we crossed a bouncy suspension bridge across a mountain stream and had lunch in an outside classroom at a school!
We followed a mountain track, passing numerous herds of mountain goats, and arrived at our first campsite in Kareri Village, which was next to the Laund River. The campsite was set up for us and we discovered we had two chefs and three camp helpers (as well as the pony handlers). After a wash in the very cold river we enjoyed a fantastic meal in a beautiful setting within a valley.
Sunday 20th May 2018
Our 6.30am wake-up call was tea delivered to our tents ( I could get used to that) and after a hearty breakfast we were warned that the trek today would be long, steep and challenging. They were not wrong. We passed through villages and rivers before headeding up and up (and up) to Bal Village. Here we were joined by a four-legged trekker – a black dog we named Erica. She stayed with us all day in the hope of receiving food. The spectacular views took our minds off the heat (temperatures rose above 30 degrees) but we were glad to arrive at our next campsite, again next to a river. Rivers really are the lifeblood of towns and villages herre and we witnessed them being used in every day life for cleansing, washing clothes and drinking.
Having acclimatised to ‘river washing’ we again sat down to another fantastic dinner and once the campsite local dogs had stopped barking and accepted Erica as one of our companions, we slept in another beautiful valley with amazing views of the night sky
Monday 21st May 2018
Another day of steep ascents awaited us. We now had five dogs tagging along! Today the trek became more dangerous. The paths were narrow and any wrong step would result in sliding 300 metres down the side!! We counter-acted this with a stop at Galu temple to pray for our safety and thankfully, nobody chose that route but a couple of trekkers were struggling with the ascent and the heat.
We continued up and up and just when you think there is no end in sight – we came to the top and were greeted with amazing views of the peak of The Himalayans. This is what we had been waiting for and worth every step taken. Our campsite at Triund was set up at the top of the hill and our tent ‘doors’ faced the mountains. In the evening we sat watching the sunset, which was very special.
Tuesday 22nd May 2018
We rose at 5.15am to view the sunrise (even though the sun did not come up till 6.30am!!). The plan was to get to the ‘snow line’ of the mountain’ but sadly a rock fall from the melting glaciers meant it was unsafe to go as high as we wanted, so we limited out walk to a safer area. Back on the plateau, my eyes lit up when I saw that the locals were playing cricket and I was invited to face two balls (made out of string) against a fast Indian bowler. Using a piece of wood carved into a sort of cricket bat shape I wondered who else has played cricket at 3,200metres!!
On our last night camping and were given a home-made cake from the chef to celebrate our achievement. We still cannot work out how baked a cake up in the mountains?
Wednesday 23rd May 2018
After thanking the porters, chefs, guides and pony handlers with financial gifts for their exceptional service, we headed down the mountain and back to Dharamsala., we admired the views of the McLeod Gang (mountain range) and stopped at a waterfall (that will be in full flow when the monsoons start next month). Once back in the hustle and bustle of Dharamasala Chris and I went to the local ‘men only’ swimming baths – not realising that the water comes straight from the mountain spring and was incredibly cold
Thursday 24th May 2018
It was good to be back in a bed again (just for one night) before it was back on the sleeper train to Delhi!
Friday 25th May 2018
We made the three hour journey to Agra, sorry that driving had not improved while we were away. We narrowly we missed a coach driving down the motorway on the wrong side!!
Once in Agra, we of course visited one of the seven new Wonders of the World, – Not the McDonalds that I was delighted to see when we arrived – but the Taj Mahal, which was spectacular, even in the searing 45 degree heat. Fran was like a celebrity. Everyone wanted a photo with her (westerners were surprisingly rare in this part of the world)….Chris and I weren’t too offended when we were asked to step out of the frame!
Saturday 26th May 2018
A 5am departure from Agra back to Delhi Airport and home gave us time to contemplate our 10 days away. We’d seen so much, met fantastic people and witnessed an amazing country with outstanding beauty. I’d recommend a trek to anyone and plans are already underway to have a North London Hospice trek in 2019. Anybody fancy going to Peru?
Our huge thanks go to everyone who helped us raise over £11,000 for the Hospice and provided a trip to remember for Dr Chris in his final year with us.