First day of our Markha Valley trek. We weren’t quite certain what to expect for the remaining six days of trekking through the Himalayas, but we were sure the following day would be steep and uphill, to 4,950 meters/16,200 feet. So on our first day on the trail we were relieved to find relative flatness, to lose ourselves in the red rocks of the canyon around us and to look off into the distance of the climb that awaited us.
Open the panorama to full screen to join us on that first day of our Markha Valley trek. Continue Reading »
Ladakh: a place we had dreamed about for well over a decade, a visit packed with expectations. What made this place remarkable wasn’t quite what we expected.
Ladakh, lost in layers.
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While traveling, we often find ourselves focused on the present. This is a good thing. Then, something helps us appreciate the history, the roots of where we happen to be. This too, is useful because it provides perspective.
Likir Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh, at almost 1,000 years old, is one of those places.
For much of our visit to Likir Monastery we were alone, save a sole monk who tidied up and made sure visitors took their shoes off before entering the temples. We enjoyed it all in peace and found ourselves stepping back, literally and figuratively, just trying to imagine how monks had gathered in those spaces for centuries — chanting, meditating, praying.
Open the panorama to full screen to see if you can imagine it yourself. Continue Reading »
Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags greet us as we reach Ladakh’s Gongmaru La pass. All the residual fatigue from climbing up to 16,800 feet/5,130 meters seems to evaporate once we’ve reached this place, our goal. It’s been six days in the Markha Valley and we’ve been up and down — and up again.
We have to remind ourselves not to move around too quickly up here, not to exhaust ourselves from the altitude. But it’s difficult to contain the excitement of being on top of the world — and as photographers, to grab a piece of and bask in every little visual slice that we can capture. The scenery stuns with layers of mountains for as far as the eye can see, while a surprise snowfall earlier in the week means our view is blessed with dramatic snow caps. Continue Reading »
This is a story of our re-discovery of a few of life’s truths amidst a seven-day trek in the Himalayas.
“One foot in-front-of-the oth-er.” Continue Reading »
Five days into our Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh, India. We were on our way to Nimiling, a summer hangout for local shepherds (with their flocks of sheep, goats and cattle/yak hybrids called zos) and the overnight base camp for our final ascent to Gongmaru La Pass (5,130 meters/16,800 feet). That morning we endured and enjoyed our share of steep climbs, losing ourselves to the mountains and our slow, deliberate pace.
Then a break: a lunchtime spot at peaceful clear lake with views of Kang Yatze Peak (6,400 meters / 21,000 feet) and the Zanskar range. In so many ways, we felt very much like we were on top of the world. Continue Reading »
This is a story about how when you hear penguins at 20,000 feet, there’s a good chance you’re in deep sh*t.
“Ladies and gentlemen…the weather situation in Srinagar is very bad…flights are being diverted to Delhi…four flights just before us…we will try and see.” I’d absorbed only fragments of the pilot’s announcement as my head was buried in a book. We’d come from Mumbai and rivers of monsoon to escape to Kashmir in northern India, apparently only to find more storms.
Then we began our descent. Continue Reading »
Slum. It’s a loaded word, one that conjures a raft of negative imagery. But there’s one characteristic that’s not likely to come to mind: industry.
That’s where Dharavi, Mumbai’s most populated slum, might surprise you. Continue Reading »
This is a story about the mystery of mountains, a San Francisco swami, a stroke of good luck, a dabbawalla and the fine art of resourcefulness.
Long, long ago in the late 1990s, I lived in San Francisco. And next door to me lived a man who would one day become a swami. And he told me of a land called Ladakh.
But before I get to that, a photo.
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Dawn breaks in a village above holy Lake Khecheopalri in Sikkim, a semi-autonomous state of northeast India tucked into the Himalayas. In the early morning, children stumble half asleep through the village to the Buddhist monastery school as the sun rises over the nearby mountains. Our reason for rising early on the morning this photo was taken: to grab a glimpse of the elusive peak of Mount Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest. Continue Reading »