Sunday, September 12, 2010

Zanskar Valley Trek

We have finally come to Padum, our trekking destination also considered the center of Zanskar Valley. Our trek was filled hiking over spectacular mountains and getting to know the nearby village people of our campsites. The VIS group worked together to begin learning the local language, understand traditional customs and motivate one another in the long days of walking. Already the group has gotten a taste of harvesting from the villages. Our journey thus far has taken us over the high pass of Shingo La and to the remote impressive cliff-side monestary of Phuktal where we were showed around by friendly monks. We spent a night in the village of Kargyak, one of the highest inhabited settlements in the world. The next nine days en route to SECMOL will consist of spending nights in villages where we will visit holy sites and help with the fall harvest of barley, potatoes, lentils and peas!
VIS Leader, Holly Borday

The following was written by Conor Dinan on day four of the trek:

I don’t remember what day of the week it is. The concept seems otherworldly, so mundane. Is it Monday? Saturday maybe? Perhaps Thursday? It doesn’t matter. Those words are labels I don’t need where I am now. They’re labels for home, labels for a life so rhythmic as to be robotic. Monday—set your eyes on Friday/ Friday—live only for the promise of Saturday. Saturday—get Monday through Friday out of your system. Sunday—glumly get ready for Monday. What’s the point of these here?

As we trek through Zanskar, for me every day is filled with new things. Every day the world that unfolds before my eyes is so awesome that there is no need to live for any day but that one. So much discovery overwhelms my mind that there is barely any need for tomorrow, or the next day, or two weeks from now. Today is more than enough.

In part, I know I’m exploring a new world, and seeing things I’d never thought possible. That in itself is enough—if India were only amazing because I’d never seen it before, that would still be so staggering as to make the effort of the last two weeks a billion times worth it. Everything from booming, bustling Delhi to charming, laid-back Manali to here in these astonishing, incomparable, unimaginable mountains would stay with me forever, and exponentially widen my world view. But I think there’s something more. These mountains are so vast, so awe-inspiring, so manifestly greater than the contrivances of man that they awaken something American society seems to dull, deep in the soul. They call forth reverence, humility, quiet consideration of the world that exists beyond our sights. These mountains alert us to the spiritual in a way I’ve never known before.


  1. Hi you guys. It sounds like a great experience you are having. I am envious :-) I have a friend from Nepal in my nursing program. Speaking with him about your journey is helping build relationships for people you haven't even met. (Except for Elles, of course, since I'm her aunt) Thank you for the posts of your experiences :-)

  2. Happy Birthday Nate Dogg (aka Uncle Nate) love, JT2, Heather, Kian, Eve, and Kailyn