Trekking the Markha Valley

The Markha Valley is in a remote region of Ladakh, named after a tributary of the Zanskar that flows between the Stok and Zanskar mountain ranges. These two city kids spent 5 days trekking through it, and came out alive! Neither of us had ever done more than a one day hike; I was in old running shoes and had 1 pair of clothes, and neither of us were exactly in shape, but we actually ended up being pretty good at the whole hiking business. We hiked around 60 kilometers, which would have been easier if it weren’t for the fact that we were so high up! We started around 11,000 feet and the highest point we reached was 17,000, which made it hard to sit up, let alone hike. It was an amazing feeling reaching the top, after 5 long days, and I can see why people get addicted to this whole trekking thing. When we finally reached the bottom (around 12,000 feet), our pace suddenly quickened and everything became SO much easier. I felt like superman, ready to run a marathon because I could finally breath.  There isn’t much else to say about the trek, I think the photos do a better job then I could ever explain. It was definitely one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever been, and spending that much time surrounded by such vast space and mountains was an incredibly needed and refreshing experience. Hope you enjoy the shots, although I do have to say, I was disappointed when I looked at them because they most certainly do not do justice to the Markha’s beauty!

India “fact” of the day: Although we were in India, the people of Ladakh did not consider themselves Indian, or identify with the country at all. You often would hear them say, “ya I’ve been to India once” or openly make fun of Indian culture (usually referring to their lack of trekking skills/stamina). I found this especially interesting, because the region is completely dominated by Indian Army (being so close to China, it is an important strategic base for India). You’re in a place that has “Indian Army” signs all over the road (some very comical), but people will correct you if you say you’re in India! Whatever it says on a map, I will say it felt like a completely different country, with differences in demeanor, weather, food, religion, and so on; so I agree, we weren’t in India, we were in Ladakh!

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