The Curious Magpie

Curiosity killed the cat! Or in this case the magpie...

...the point of this page is for me to post up all the shiny things I make or do or see...

All posts on here are originally mine unless stated otherwise.

Exploring Ladakh - Day 35

Monday 25th August 2014 

I’m attempting to have a lie-in, spending as much time as possible in a proper bed. The other people in my room have different ideas and keep getting up to have showers etc.  I persist, but eventually give in half an hour before my alarm. I get up to start finalising my packing. Well – get up …actually sit up and do as much as I can without walking. After I’m successful I decide it’s time to get dressed and by then it’s almost breakfast time. I’m starving. Sweet bread and eggs are very welcome. This morning is final packing up for the Medics. I watch the large array of drugs being sorted. Then it is time to grab my day bag (it contains pretty much just water) and set off into Leh.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 34

Sunday 24th   August 2014 

I’m awake before 6.30 Alarm and it starts beeping as I’m stuffing my sleeping bag into its sack and pushing everything into my rucksack. Outside the tent, breakfast is a flapjack eaten between running around sorting last minute boxes. My tent comes down and miraculously fits into the ten bag first try. Then we start the loading process. We have just one issue. On the way out we had a flat-bed truck to carry all the camp kit. For some unknown reason, we don’t have one today! Priority 1 – personal kit. Priority 2 - best kit going back to the U.K. Priority 3 – open food we are taking to the hostel; this plus 36 people fills two buses and we have to leave a huge pile of everything else (going to the stores) in the middle of the valley. But at least we’re all on board and we set off in a cloud of dust down the valley. Following the Zara River down, a solitary mule watches us leave our home of the last four weeks.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 33

Saturday 23rd August 2014 

With flapjacks for breakfast and jobs not starting until 9a.m. I can afford a lie-in, but the sunshine makes everything too hot and I’m up at 7.30! Flapjack eaten, I have an hour to kill, so start packing my bag with things I no longer need. Then it’s time for a whole expedition meeting. Today is ‘Pack-up Day’. I’m in charge of sorting out the Food Tent. I set a team of Y.E.s to count all the dehydrated ration packs, while one of the T.L.s and I start sorting, counting, labelling and packaging. It all runs so smoothly that we’re finished in two hours; with all 1,113 soup packets and 225 left-over loo rolls (and everything else) boxed up and ready to go.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 32

Friday 22nd August 2014 

I wake up to a chink of sunlight peeping through the open edge of my bivi bag.  As the sun rises and heats me up I open the top flap and doze with the sun on my face. All I can hear is the river down below, a few birds and the occasional bee buzzing over my head… and the sound of an engine. This makes me look up. I can’t see anything. Sit up. There are two Land Rovers down by the river. They are not getting very far; they’ve chosen a dead-end route. My peace has now been broken; it’s time to get up. I roll up my sleeping things and head back down to camp. Over breakfast, we discover that the Land Rovers belong to another Indian climbing expedition! So much for our trip being in a secluded valley.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 31

Thursday 21st August 2014 

Deciding to see how organised the Y.E.s can be, we leaders stay in the tent until there is a cry of ‘hot water ready’ – this gives us an extra half an hour’s lie-in. Breakfast, pack up, tent down. We are ready in an hour. Almost as hour later, so is everyone else. The trek out of the valley isn’t as hard work as coming in, but I still hate the boulder rocks that wobble as you walk on them and, unfortunately they still strew the floor.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 30

Wednesday 20th August 2014 

Aiming to stay in my tent as long as possible, I’m vaguely awake enough to unzip my sleeping bag, when I start to get hot and then eventually emerge into the sunshine at about 9a.m.  A themometer check reveals it had been -9C last night, luckily it’s much warmer now. After breakfast there is very little to do except for chat and bask in the sun.  Soon enough it’s lunch time and I’ve hardly moved from my seat. Cracker (crumbs) and cheese again for lunch and I decide to break out part of my emergency rations – a mini pot of Marmite – so tasty and it gives a great improvement to the Nth pot of Amul cheese I’ve eaten. Our lazy lunch is followed by a spark of movement - bag packing to go for an afternoon walk -for what has been described as a ‘bimble’.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 28

Monday 18th August 2014

Yellow Brick wake-up call at 5.30. Then back to sleep. Sunshine warms the tent, I unzip my sleeping bag and go back to sleep. Eventually the warmth of the sun is too much for wearing thermals and at 9.30 I clamber out of my tent and am thankful to the others who are already up and boiling water for breakfast. We are scheduled for a rest morning so everything happens at a leisurely pace. I write out some recipes for back at basecamp. I dig out my rather neglected sketchpad and draw the view from camp. I have a staring competition with a pika, who is watching our camp. Every so often he squeaks and jumps up off his rock. I listen to a rapid history of Europe from Ancient Rome to WWI by a couple of Y.Es discussing the history of wars and empires. Finally I have a nap in the sun, with my sunglasses off in an attempt to fade out my reverse panda eye markings.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 27

Sunday 17th August 2014

Every half an hour I wake up with one of my hips aching and have to turn over to the other side. Even on my back I can’t get comfortable. At 5.30 the Yellow Brick goes off. At 6 the alarm goes off. We’re all desperately not wanting to get up, so 6.30 arrives before we clamber out of the tent. It’s a slow start, including sorting food, but eventually we’re off up the valley, over the lumpy grass. The puddles between the grasses are still frozen and we crack the ice as we trek across the open valley. By mid-morning we have reached the point we had turned off last time to go up to the glaciers. This time we are off up the valley on the right. After a break to examine a pair of yaks’ skulls, we have a steeper a climb into the side valley. Our lunch break is overtaken by exhaustion, and most of the team fall asleep in the sun.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 26

Saturday 16th August 2014

I’m woken by the sound of a howling gale ad the pitter-patter of the start of the rain – it’s about 1am. I crawl out of the tent, grab the various clothes hanging round the sides and, before they blow away or get soaked and crawl back in. Six hours later I’m woken by the sound of people outside discussing snow. SNOW?!  I stick my head out to investigate. It is definitely snowing – not heavily but a bit – and there’s a light white dusting up the valley; but not really enough to get up for. An hour or so later I do get up, time for breakfast as the occasional light dusting appears.  The weather is a bit on and off all morning; I spend most of it in the store tent, handing out and sorting more food.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 25

Friday 15th August 2014

Having gone to sleep in the pitch black, I wake up to a bright light shining through my tent. I assume it must be morning, but checking my watch, it’s only midnight – the floodlighting is a result of the really bright full moon. Several hours later the ten is bright again, this time form sunlight and it’s also rapidly heating up. When I’m finally forces up by the warmth, it’s time for breakfast – beans and chapattis. My morning consists of opening, dividing and sorting food. Then the first incoming group is spotted – the Trainee Leaders, back from the 6,000m peak. Next job to get on with is to remake the solar oven. An ‘attack with a penknife and strapping down with gaffa tape’ later and the Solar Oven Mark II is ready. 

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 24

Thursday 14th August 2014

Another morning without an alarm. Still awake before 7a.m. I get dressed to cool down from thermals and go back to lying down and reading. ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ is more interesting than an empty campsite. When I notice that the DCL is up, I emerge, ready for breakfast. Last night we tried to make jelly from a packet found at the back of the store and it didn’t set. This morning it’s a bit watery around the edges but fairly solid (if jelly actually is a solid?) There is also left over cake and so we have a children’s tea party for breakfast – jelly and cake – just missing ice cream. A short while after this awesome start, I see a lone figure climbing down the hillside. We go to meet it and find the Chief Leader returning to camp to charge up her malfunctioning Yellow Brick. She also brings a broken stove and spends the morning trying to find a working one! I spend the morning in the store tent re-piling and sorting out our meals for the rest of the trip.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 23

Wednesday 13th August 2014

I have no alarm today! And yet, I still wake up at about 6a.m. By 7, it’s starting to get too warm to stay in my thermals, so I get up and change, then lie in my tent reading for another hour. Breakfast is a laid-back affair for the five leaders in camp. For a treat someone suggests baked beans and eggs. To go with this we need some form of toast, ideally, so I set about making a few quick chapattis.

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 22

Tuesday 12th August 2014

The problem with tent sharing with a Medic is that occasionally you are woken up at 3a.m.! I vaguely go back to sleep and sot of notice when other people start getting up at 5.30. By 7a.m. I have to get up because I’ve been putting off going to the loo for too long. Then I sit around the camp watching everyone else getting ready. Almost the entire expedition is off out today, but I’m becoming the Basecamp Manager for the next four days; partly under Doctor’s orders but also to stop the Deputy Chief Leader (the only other person in camp) eating the contents of the stores!

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Exploring Ladakh - Day 21

Monday 11th August 2014

An early wake-up – we grab our (mostly) packed bags and set off up the valley. It’s food drop day. Yesterday, I had noticed that I was feeling out of breath every so often, doing simple things like talking to people while standing still. Today as I walk this seems to get worse and, after about 20 minutes I have to sit down. The Doctor comes back to check on me. Oxygen level fairly normal (for altitude) heart rate normal, breathing rate normal….all too normal for the Doc to work out anything. She tries giving me an inhaler… that doesn’t work… no idea. Now I’m feeling a little less out of breath I unload the food stash from my bag and I’m sent back to camp with two Y.E.s for support, while the others march onwards.

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