The homestay effort was initiated by the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Rumbak, with 9 households, was one of the first. This area is known as the Snow Leopard capital of the world. The income from the homestays helps the villagers with conservation efforts,insurance for their livestock, (in case a snow leopard gets one), and helps create predator proof pens.
When we got to Rumbak, there were quite a few of the homes that have a room for trekkers to do a homestay. As we arrived, one of the villagers yelled out that they take turns in that village and to go to a particular house. We were greeted by a very friendly woman named Dolkar. She had a room built on the roof along with a dirt toilet, minus the dirt. The only issue with this homestay was that there were large black bugs on my mattress, which look like our Idaho stinkbugs, and about same size. I know they are harmless, but please, I do not want to share my sleeping spot with these critters. So I folded up the sheet with them all in it and tossed them over the roof. So long bugs. I decided to use my own sleeping bag and inner bag liner for my protection. I'm glad I brought them along.
The next day was my trek to Stok La (La means mountain pass). I have to say that this was one of the toughest things I have done in a very long time. Going up 3500 to 4000 ft in elevation is one thing, but having that at an altitude up to 17,000 ft is a whole different ballgame. My lungs just could not get in enough oxygen. I thought it would take forever to get there and I think it almost did. My guide was very patient with me. (Poor thing) The last half was pretty steep as well. In addition, what made it so difficult for me was the dryness of this land and especially at this altitude. I just could not get hydrated. I felt not great when I finally made it back to the homestay. Then, of course, I had to get the bugs off my bed again.
The training guide then said, we need to start early tomorrow to get to Ganda La the next day. I just looked at her and said I don't think I could do that again. I just can get aclimized to this altitude and wasn't up for another 7 to 8 hour death march. I told her to let's see how I feel in the morning.
The next day, I felt awful so decided not to do the other pass, especially since it was extremely hot that day. Even at 8:00 is was hot so I told her I just wanted to hang around and rest. An easy walk around the village was just fine with me and I could finish a Kindle book I had on my droid. They did have electricity from 7:00 pm to 11:00pm so I was able to charge my phone in the evenings.
On the exit day, since it was so hot the day before, we decided to take off fairly early. It was nice easy hiking on the way out. While on the hike we heard a loud "BOOM". Some construction workers had dynamited the rock wall to put in a road in the future. Well, we finally arrived where the boom was located and rock had been blasted all into the stream we were hiking next to. After the heat the day before, there was a lot of snow melt and the stream was very high compared to what it was when we hiked in. We had to cross the stream, but it was big enough and fast flowing enough that I had to put on my water sandals and traverse across. When across though, I had to wall over a lot of the blasted rock and was very sharp. My feet were slipping in the sandals and my feet were getting cut up on the sharp rocks. A man came down and was yelling at us. However, I told my guide that I was putting on my hiking shoes right then. The man and she said that I had another crossing up ahead but it was far enough that I would be really cut up by the time I arrived there. I showed them my bloody feet and they let me put on my shoes. When I got to the next crossing it was deep and fast enough water to triangulate across with my hiking poles. However, the construction guy just grabbed me and was dragging me across the stream so they could continue on with their blasting, which was ready to be ignited. There were a lot ot trekkers coming in as well that day, so it was dangerous to be doing that at the same time. We shortly came up on a large group going in to trek the Markha Valley. The explosion went off and then I heard people with the group yelling "Watch out". The reverberations from the blast has started small landslides above the trekkers. Only in India.
However, I took a few pictures with my cell phone camera. (No way I'm gonna haul up my big camera on a backpack) and here they are.