The Barren Plateau of Rangdum, Ladakh
It was well after 7:00p before we finally fell out of the 4×4, weaving and bobbing from the strenuous ride. The wide open plateau had precarious looking, snowcapped mountains with spectacular glaciers in all directions. At this altitude (3,657 meters/12,000 feet), why wouldn’t it be “breathtaking“? The ground was spongy from little rivulets of glacier melt while hundreds of Edelweiss peeked up through the grass along with other alpine and tundra species. I had no idea that Edelweiss grew at this altitude and immediately went into Sound of Music mode which amused the crew tremendously. Since neither Steve nor I have ever seen an Edelweiss in Austria or Switzerland, this was very exciting.
Rangdum Monastery was visible at the far end of the plateau perched on a small hill. It is only a small Gompa/Monastery dating back to the 18th century with about 40 monks. Nun Kun Deluxe Camp was closer to where we pitched our tents. Tourists could be seen running around the deluxe, fixed tents that charged around $100 U.S. a day for two persons including three meals. Crew unloaded the 4×4 and the driver #2 went back into small Rangdum town to spend the night. He’d be back in the morning.
Both Stazins and Baikaji went into warp speed, setting up tents, preparing dinner, disregarding protestations that we were too tired to eat anything. It was now after 7:00p and getting cold; Stanzin #1 had warned us to prepare for freezing temperatures. The wind brought extreme cold down from all those snowy, glacier-laden mountains surrounding the plateau and it could possibly be the coldest night during the entire trip.
A fast look around for someplace to hunker down behind. Nada. Not a tree or rock visible for miles. We’d just have to expose ourselves to the elements and other tourist’s eyes. (If someone found my white bum fascinating, so be it.)
The crew insisted on bringing bowls of hot garlic soup loaded with noodles to us tucked into sleeping bags for some nourishment, and it did hit the spot! Slurped the soup down, popped some Aleve (Naproxen) and were asleep in a flash, trying hard not to think of tomorrow’s drive. The embedded video probably says it all. No wonder my best friends look at me in horror while adult children ask, “Mom, aren’t you getting too old for all this?” Ummm….yes!
Up very early for breakfast; starving and freezing. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the sun to warm everything up but until then, brrrr…. Kargil Union driver #2 returned with yesterday’s blown tire, unfixed. Now we’d drive for eight hours over the same hellish roads without a spare. What will happen when the next tire blows? According to Stanzin #1, driver said, “Another car will come along and lend us a tire.” Repacked the 4×4 and began driving across boggy terrain towards Rangdum Monastery.
This should be interesting….