Basgo

Diary

Take the bus to Basgo in the morning. Now I know when it is and where it goes it has become my go-to bus. Plus it's only 50 rupees to Basgo, half the price of alchi despite it being more than two thirds of the way.

Passing the guest house in Basgo one guy hollers 'BREAKFAST!' in my direction. That had been my plan, in fact, but to keep up appearances I make to investigate a nearby group of chortens for ten minutes before coming and taking my seat.

A slightly strange conversation ensues: Guest house lady: Omelette, parantha? Me: Omelette and parantha. Guest house lady: I don't speak english. (calls over another guy) Guy: Omelette, parantha? Me: Omelette and parantha. Guy (to lady): Omelette and parantha. lady: Omelette and parantha, ok. Whatever, I get breakfast in the end.

Make my way up to the castle. This has no fewer than three Maitreya temples, but two are locked up, leaving one Maitreya temple and one temple which might be Maitreya or might not---this one was closed too but not locked and nobody seemed to be about. Not being particular about seeing absolutely all the Maitreya temples, I poke about the accessible ones and sunbathe for a bit. A large party of Italians arrive, and when I look into the larger temple the attendant (who had previously only shown interest in taking Rs30 from me and giving me a ticket) is chanting and playing a drum. Value added indeed!

Walk back along the road, and turn off up the valley. My map marks a path from the gompa direct to Nyemo but this isn't in evidence so I look out for the second path further up. This turns out to be a trackway which leaves the road by the first houses and makes its way up a dry, stony valley. After a few hundred yards the track becomes a path, which in turn becomes less distinct until I decide to leave the valley and look for the path on the shoulder.

I make for a cairn in the distance and sure enough this is on a clear path; a tall flag stands a few hundred yards further on towards Nyemo. The only concern I have now is that the map marks a pass at 4000 m, 500 m above me, but at no point does the path look like climbing. Also I have only brought 1 L of water and it's already past noon.

Stone piles on the plateau above Basgo. Stok Kangri in the distance

The path heads off through the desert, mostly fast going except for the places it needs to cross various dry nullahs on the way. All these routes are well marked with cairns so I happily carry on until the last pass, within sight of Nyemo and just before a particularly deep nullah. Here there is a collection of cairns and the path looks like going down into the valley, except suddenly the cairns stop and the path peters out into goat tracks. There is no sign of the path on the other side of the nullah, equally no sign of it climbing the mountains behind me to reach the pass.

After twenty minutes' fruitless searching I decide that considering the water situation I should just try and make straight for the main road below. Unfortunately there is a rather severe range of cliffs separating me on top from the buildings (mostly army compounds) below. Walking along the edge I eventually find a spot, marked with a pole, where it looks like I can pick my way down a protruding talus(?) ridge. It's slow going but steady, with the route always in sight, and once again I'm thankful for my poles. At the bottom I pass a couple of slightly bemused soldiers but soon find a way between the compounds and round the barbed wire fences back on to the main road. From here it's a km or so into Nyemo village where I fall upon a bowl of thukpa and await the bus home.

My first real trekking failure :)