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Topic: Summary of My Year in India< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 08 2003, 8:51 am  Skip to the next post in this topic.    QUOTE

SUMMARY OF MY YEAR. My year teaching, researching music, and trekking in India is now about finished. I am back in Delhi for one last week before heading back to America. In retrospect, its been a great year despite things that were much different from America (see cravings post). But, I am very tolerable of things like hot, cold, inconveniences, and many other things. My principal here has said more than once that he appreciated my putting up with many things that other Americans would have fits over. True, there were times I got fed up with something that was too slow or with the way things are done here. But, this was rare, and usually only when I didn't have time to spare. Surprisingly, mostly it was in my last month when I was trying to get everything done on my list before leaving. Due to slow internet this past month, I don't have all the topics posted that I had written down. Over the next month and a half, I'll get those posted. The last one will be on books I've read. I've read about 50 books, and will put a brief summary here, and then a longer description in the Book Reports forum, starting in September.

MY JOB. My main job this year was teaching music at the Moravian Mission School in Leh. This was a "full-time" job. Full time here, though, means 10:00 until 3:45 with no extra time out-of-school expected. We taught Monday through Friday, as well as Saturday mornings. But, we had holidays for the Dalai Lama's birthday, Buddha's birth/enlightenment day, Muslim Eid, Guru Nanak's birthday (Sikh founder), Ghandi's birthday, Good Friday, Holi, Deshara, elections, Nehru's birthday, Muharram, and Independence Day. I think I may have missed about ten holidays. Plus, we get the second Saturday of the month off, and only work a half day on the last day of the month. It took me only one year to figure all of this out! During the school day I taught general music to students in grades 4-6. During Lunch, I had a choir of about 50-60 students. That group had 3 concerts this year, as well as a musical in June, and a television and radio program about Christmas in December. Before and after school, I gave lessons on recorder flute, guitar and keyboard. I found out AFTER I was here that music performance on instruments is considered low-caste in the Ladakhi culture. The Mission School had me there drawing on their reputation to change attitudes, and I think I have started positively in that direction. Finally, I had a trekking class at the school this spring.

MY RESEARCH. My other committment here this year was to research traditional Ladakhi music and put it into Western musical notation to preserve it. The younger generation likes the pop songs, which are similar to Nepali songs. Fun to listen to, but the older songs are dying out. I met with older musicians and got some 20 songs on tape to put into notation this fall. The men were greatful that I wanted to preserve the songs. I showed them with music paper and a keyboard what I intended to do, and they understood.

CHURCH WORK. This was not part of my official reason for being here. But, I played keyboard for the Sunday School children, as well as for the church services. I also re-wrote the Ladakhi hymnbook (237 hymns) simplifying it enough for my students to be able to start playing now that I am gone. I have 6 keyboard students (4 adult and 2 middle school) that can play one-hand on the hymns. And, my best student is able to slowly do both hands. This is okay, because the Ladakhi's sing those dreadfully slow. He is shy, but being encouraged. Pastor's wife, who I also taught, will be playing hymns this Sunday.

TREKKING. I did a lot of these, of course. Here is a list.
DAY HIKES.
1. Shanti Stupa. Did this 3 times, always under full moon. Good views of Leh at night.
2. Old Leh Fort and Palace. Did this about 6 times, mostly under full moon. Good for the views, as well as the culture.
3. Upper Leh Village. At the end of a glacial moraine is a stupa, followed by an easy mile-long walk on the moraine. My favorite local hike because of the views of the entire city.
4. Leh to Sabu. Sabu is the next village east of Leh. I did this twice, once with the trekking class. A nice 3-hour walk over 2 small passes with no others visible but eagles and lizards. Good views of each village from the ridges.
5. Leh to Phyang. Phyang is the next village west. This is much more difficult than Sabu because the pass goes over 15,000 feet from Leh's elevation of 11,500. I did this the first time under full moon, and the second time in December when I was attacked by that snow leopard. That's right, you already know that this was made up!
6. Matho Village. The principal of our branch school there invited us, so I brought 8 students, and 3 of his joined us, and we had a joint trek to another valley from there. He told me that the last time they did that trek, the students found a dead snow leopard.
7. Nanga Sago Peak. Sitting at about 19,000 feet, it is the tallest on the Leh side of the valley. I did it first in November, and made it to 17,800 feet when I hit my turnaround time. The second time was March, when I made it up to 18,900 feet. Winter snows made that last little bit on the knife-edge impossible (or stupid). I finally got to the actual summit on July 16th. I don't like that peak, as I've done it 3 ways and there is no easy way to avoid the loose boulders on it.
MULTI-DAY
1. Nubra Valley (see other post). 11-day trek that I did in 9 days to the Shyok River Valley to the north and returning over another high pass.
2. Stok Kangri (see other post). 4-day trek that I did in 5 days due to bad weather. The peak is 20,188 feet tall, falling short of Denali by 112 feet.
3. Nepal - Around Annapurna (see other post). 16-day trek that I did in 13 days. The classic circuit that every serious hiker should do at some point. No need to carry everything. Just stay at the hotels each evening and carry a sleeping bag.
4. Chaddar Ice Trek (see other post). 10-day trek. The classic trek on the frozen Zanskar River to Lingshed Village. Was too warm, though, when I did it. Had to cliff-climb around open water, and there was a one-kilometer stretch requiring wading through knee-deep water ON the ice.
5. Nepal - Everest Base Camp (see other post). 15-days. Another tea-house trek going from hotel to hotel. Avoid the part between Jiri and Lukla, though. I was in a bus accident on the way to Jiri, and there were Maoists bothering trekkers about 2 days into the trek. The rest of the trip, I'd recommend to anyone. I did it off-season in February and had a great time.
6. Alchi to Hibti. 2 days. Hibti is not on the map. The trail was, though, so I did it.
7. Rupshu/Changtang (see future post). 17 days. I just finished this one to a remote part of Ladakh. More details in about a week.

TREKKING STATISTICS for my 13 months in India/Nepal
1. Bag nights. Count the above, and add about 2 months for the times when my house was too cold.
2. Miles walked total: 923 for the year
3. Campsites: 61
4. Best campsite: Base camp before the 18,600 foot pass in Changtang. Good views of Tso Moriri Lake, and with many pashmina goats being grazed nearby.
5. Highest campsite: 5100 meters (17,710 feet). Both at the base camp to the pass, and the following night at Gyama nomad camp.
6. Best cultural campsite: Nomad camp at Rachun Karu where we were invited in for curds (yogurt) made in a sheepskin.
7. Worst day: The day we attempted a 20,000 foot peak. On the descent, I hit 3 crevasses that left a foot dangling.
8. Hardest day: The day last August that I climbed Stok Kangri.
9. Hottest Day: 89 degrees in Leh in July
10. Coldest Night: -28 degrees in Leh in January.
11. Worst Weather: The downpour that collapsed my roof in Leh.
12. Best wildlife viewed: Wild Tibetan Asses (8 on the last day of the last trek).
13. Elevation totals: I kept a running total on my altimeter. Since I arrived on July 4th last year, my total elevation gained (on treks only - not around town) totaled 67415 meters, which translates out to 221180 feet!

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 09 2003, 4:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What a great experience! Thanks for sharing it!
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 09 2003, 6:57 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic.    QUOTE

Weight loss with all the vegetarian food I ate this year: at least 25 pounds! And, I wasn't even that big to begin with.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 20 2003, 7:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

you had a unique adventure and I always enjoyed reading your updates. Thanks for clarifying what you were doing there...I must have missed the initial posts or possibly forgot what you said.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 21 2003, 4:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This, along with all of Keith's posts and e-mails, can be found up at http://www.oktrails.com
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 21 2003, 5:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic.    QUOTE

amazing. I hope to do trekking abroad soon in my life. Did you go with other experience people or go alone for the most part? Stay in tents most nights? 3 or 4 season ones? did you filter your own water? are permits required? are there trails? how about maps?

thanks!

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 21 2003, 11:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

On your hikes do you see many other people hiking too? Is hiking a common recreation there?
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 22 2003, 4:38 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic.    QUOTE

You asked some good questions. Here are answers:
1. Yeah, I got to get over to the Himalayas trekking 20 years before I was expecting to during retirement. Took some imagination, as well as justifying a sabbatical from my job here.
2. As I did 4 treks on my first 7-week visit 3 years ago, I found I already had more experience than most other foreigners in Leh. Locals don't trek for the most part, unless in the tourist agency business. I started a trekking class at school that went well. To answer your question, I went alone quite a bit of the time.
3. Yes, I used tents. 3-season was fine, even in February when I did the ice-trek and it got down to minus 15. Eureka Timberline 2-man tent.
4. Water has too much sediment to filter. I used Polar Pure iodine solution the entire year, even at home, and the only times I got "Delhi Belly" was in Delhi or Kathmandu. Never in Ladakh. I used powdered drink mix to mask the iodine, and drank the iodine water only when brushing my teeth.
5. Permits are not required unless going to Nubra Valley, Tso Moriri Lake, Dah-Hanu Valley or Pangong Lake. I did go to all but the last.
6. Yes there are trails. Even in areas that few trekkers go, there are always plenty of locals going from village to village. Bear in mind that often these trails are one foot wide with a wall on one side and a cliff down to a roaring stream on the other. Bridges I won't mention, as they can be nasty.
7. Maps were my biggest problem. There are 4 trekking maps that can be purchased in the bookstores, and none of them were worth the money. Mostly sketch maps so you can kind of see where the villages and streams are. But, none of the 4 agree with the others many times, and elevations listed for passes were off by as much as 700 feet. The only good ones (and the only topo maps of the area) are 1960's U.S. Army survey maps. But, the Indian army doesn't allow those to be sold in Leh. I got mine from Omnimaps.com off the internet before leaving here.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 22 2003, 4:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic.    QUOTE

On Markha Valley and Zanskar routes, MANY other trekkers can be seen, especially in July and August. Fewer in September.

On Nubra Valley, Stok Kangri, Karnak and Likir Treks, you will see other trekkers, but not as many. Maybe a couple other groups a day.

On all other treks, seeing more than one other party a day is rare. On my 17-day Changtang route, there were 4 days in a row where we did not see any other foreigners on one stretch.

On ALL TRAILS, though, you can always see locals going from village to village. I never had a single day where I saw no other people.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 27 2006, 11:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic.    QUOTE

I'm bumping all of these India stories to the top, so they won't be lost when the new software kicks in.
Keith

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 13 2014, 10:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm bumping all of these India stories to the top, so they won't be lost when the new software kicks in.
Keith


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