Getting to Umassi La

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Last year I went to Padum, in the Zanskar valley with the intention of traversing Umassi La into Jammu. This is a relatively high walk described as demanding with the top of the pass being 5340m. As it happened I think I had a re-occurrence of Ross River Virus and after some struggles getting to Padum just wasn’t up to the challenge.

This year however I felt it was necessary to make a real effort to conquer this pass for being almost 68 years old I felt if I waited time was running out. A couple of things are different this year. The main thing is that I was feeling fit. And It looked like Gulzar Hussein a chap I also met last year in Padum would also join me. I don’t often find people when I am ready to go on these adventures and a likeable and proven companion would have been fun. It was just fortuitous that we met up whilst walking down the street in opposite directions in Lal Chowk Srinagar. So we talked about it a bit and also with a friend of his in a local coffee shop and they indicated that they would like to do it from the Jammu side.

However as it turned out Gulzar was unable to come as his studies at Kashmir Uni wouldn’t permit a break of this length of time. So once again I would go it alone. There are advantages and disadvantages in this approach. The advantage is that sometimes travelling is easier especially if you are hitch hiking as drivers will often pick up one person. More than one person and they might not have the space or be afraid of what might happen to them. The disadvantage is that you are on your own and often might feel lonely and even at odds with those you meet.

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