6/25/2009 to 7/1/2009 | India , Ladakh

Markha Valley Trek

I had already done the Markha Valley Trek on my previous trip to Ladakh but it is a good short trek and easy to do without camping equipment so it was the trek I decided to take Karin and Jeff on. In addition we would finish at Hemis in time to catch the Hemis monastic festival. Just so I had something new for myself we hiked into the valley via two high passes the Stok La (4800 m) and the Ganda La (4870 m) neither of which I had been over before.Unfortunately our trek got off to a rough start, and our ambitious entry route didn’t help matters. Jeff was the first to get sick. After crossing the Stok La we descended to the small village of Rumbak. It was at this time when Jeff began to feel ill. It seemed to be a combination attack, a bacterial assault on his stomach manifesting itself in frequent loose bowels and a mild case of altitude sickness causing headaches and fatigue. I wasn’t feeling very strong myself but figured it was just not having trekked in a few weeks, but something was brewing in my stomach as well. Karin came down with the stomach illness in the morning. We decided to take a rest day in Rumbak in order to get healthy, pop the cypro (antibiotic cyprofloxin) and head over the Ganda La the following day. We all slept most of the day in our room at the home-stay in Rumbak. The next day both Karin and Jeff were feeling better enough to head over the pass. Unfortunately I was in rough shape, it was the sickest I’d been in a while. Florescent yellow fluid was squirting out of my rear end and the cypro I was taking seemed to be having little effect. But I tried to hide the extent of how lousy I was feeling and we left for the pass. I didn’t hide it very well, I had to stop for frequently to both rest and drain the florescent fluid from my bowels. Any doubt as to my state of health was gone when as we approached the pass, not having the energy to find a more discrete location to let loose, I just told Karin and Jeff to turn around and I squatted where I was. As I rose from my squat I immediately threw up. Seeing my state of misery Karin said we should go back. I vetoed the option and we made it over the Ganda La staying at a home-stay in the pleasant hamlet of Shingo. The hike from Shingo to Markha, although a relatively flat walk, was a long hike. I was feeling quite a bit better but none of us were a 100%. Fortunately we had a short day the following day from Markha to Hangkar, we were now getting to the most scenic part of the trek and the cypro was finally kicking in for all of us, after popping it like breath mints for a couple days. Jeff was always struggling with his appetite throughout the trek and I think he was getting more calories from the inert ingredients in the cypro capsules than from the little food he was eating. The following day hiked up to the high alpine grasslands of Nimaling at the base of 6400 m Kang Yatse. I had initially planed to take them on a day hike from here but having already spent a rest day due to illness and with not everyone at 100% we just stay one night at Nimaling and went over the highest pass of our trek, the 5100 m Gongmaru La, the next day arriving in the late afternoon to the road head of Shang Sumdo.

7 comments to Markha Valley Trek

  • andrea montemagno

    hi i’m andrea really compliment for all your trips around the world,sorry for my english.i would know somthing about trekking is possible?i have read all your report very incredible really compliment
    andrea

  • thanks, do you have and specific questions?

  • andrea montemagno

    HI MICHA I WOULD KNOW IF I CAN DO MARKHA VALLEY WITH BROOK CASCADIA TRAIL RUNNING SHOES MY TREKKING SHOES ARE GONE AND I THINK THAT IT IS NOT GOOD IDEA BUY NOW 29 JULY I WILL LEAVE.I USED IT TO RUNNIG ON THE ETNA.ALSO I WOULD ASK I BUY STERI PEN FOR PURIFICATION WATER WHATH DOU THINK CAN BE A GOOD IDEA?
    SORRY THIS IS MY FIRST DAYS MULTI DAYS TREKKING I HAVE DONE BUT JUST TWO DAYS.
    THANHS FOR ALL
    ANDREA

  • Hi Andrea,

    Most important thing about shoes is that they are comfortable. Water proofing helps as well when crossing through muddy puddles or streams. You’re unlikely to be hiking through too much snow on that route maybe a little on the pass, so I think you can get by with trail running shoes fine. On Steripen’s I think they work well, though you can also get by with some iodine pills too if you don’t get it. The steripen is nice because you can also use it to treat local drinking water in cities too and save on buy and polluting with plastic water bottles.

    have a great trip,
    Micah

  • andrea montemagno

    thanks a lot really i admire your trekking trip your spirit.
    andrea

  • Shane Hu

    Hi Micah,
    Thanks for the well written ( very descriptive 🙂 )and informative post! Me and my wife are planning to do the Markha valley trek and possibly the Stok kangri ascent if we have time in mid August.I was wondering if you could help me out on a few questions we had regarding the trip-

    1. Would you recommend us trekking independantly for the Markha valley or hire a guide through a local agent?
    2. Would you happen to have an idea of how much local agents would charge for a guide in mid august for the markha valley and possibly the stok kangri ascent as well ?
    3. Do you have any recommendations for a decent hotel to stay in and a travel agent in leh ?
    4. Is it possible to do the trek without a tent and sleeping bag in mid august ?

    Thanks in advance !

  • Hi Shane,
    1)If you at all comfortable hiking on you own, reading a map, and following a trail then Markha can easily be done independently. Stok Kangri can be done if you are an experienced climber, and have a lot of experience in high altitude trekking, otherwise I would recommend a guide.

    2)I’m not sure what agents would charge now I think around $30 to $50 a day per person the cheapest way is to organize it once you get to Leh shop around and or join a group.

    3) I usually stay in a really budget homestay type of place when I’m in Leh but they don’t take reservations and it may be a bit more rustic than you want the Tsavo guesthouse on upper Chanspa road just after the Jewish house. Evan if you don’t stay there Zangmo makes great family style meals in the evening where you come and help cook. I have a friend named Showkat who is a travel agent his contact info is:

    Showkat
    Indian Himalaya Expedition
    Changspa-Road, Zangsti
    Leh-Ladakh 194101
    Off: +91 1982 257144, 9419888812
    clickladakh id (Facebook)
    showkatladakh(at)gmail(dot)com

    4) You may be able to get buy on Markha using blankets in the homestays but it won’t be that clean if that bothers you. Stok Kangri you would need a sleeping bag if you go through an agent they will provide one usually the the quality won’t be great.

    have a great trip,
    Micah

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