Greetings from Leh
So, we left Manali in the rain, went over Rohtang Pass and down the other side to the split in the road, took the turn toward Spiti and a couple of kilometers along we were disappointed to learn that a landslide had blocked the road. There was nothing to do but change plans--a familiar reality in India, where patience and improvisation are critical skills to cultivate--and we decided to go on to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. That night we stopped in Keylong. The next day we continued on to Leh--it was a beautiful, but very long drive, and we were glad to have excellent drivers at the wheel. We were also very glad to arrive at the Shanti Guesthouse, finally, after such an epic day of driving in the Himalayas.
In consultation with Kelsang, we are opting to do the Markha Valley trek, which is a hike well known and well loved by previous Global LAB groups. It has lower altitudes than our originally proposed trek, but we will nonetheless be well prepared with experienced guides, porters, cook, pack animals, Satellite phone, and Gamov Bag--the last is a portable hyperbaric chamber which can physiologically lower one's relative altitude in the unlikely event that anyone in our group struggles with moderate to severe altitude sickness during the trek. You can read more about Gamow Bags and their inventor, Igor Gamow, scientist, classicist, professor, adventurer, here. Gamow is the son of the famed physicist George Gamow, a co-author of the Big Bang Theory and the first to propose the genetic code.
As for our somewhat spotty blog entries--we have faced various ongoing challenges with Internet outages, but we'll do our best to phone or email in updates as possible. Rest assured that all is well and the adventure continues, even if the blog has not been as active as we'd hoped thanks to forces beyond our control. Plenty of pictures have been taken, and they will find their way here at some point, when time and connectivity permit.