Our first full day of hikng up the valley dawned cloudy. Fearing rain, I asked Sonam to by some plastic to cover the backpacks. He didn’t believe it would rain since Novembers are almost always good weather, but he did as I asked.
The trail followed a gradual course up the river that we will be following for the next week. There were many high waterfalls from streams entering the valley.
Road construction was also a constant presence, as the workers tried to push the jeep road up a seemingly impossible canyon. Their approach seems to be to brutally blast away any outcroppings in their way, which will leave an unsightly and unstable slope ready to slide across the road with every monsoon. We had to hold up for a few minutes while they set off a huge explosion across the valley. At other locations, they use a combination of power and hand tools, with an army of workers to throw rocks down the slope. Mules walk calmly past the jackhammers.
Sure enough, it began to rain a little after lunch, first on the mountaintops, then a few drops on the train, and then more steady rain. By the time we reached our stopping place in the middle of the afternoon, our jackets were soaked, more from sweat on the inside than from the rain.
We spent the night in a town called Tal, which took its name from the lake that used to fill the wide valley. The lake is gone but a wide, braided river remains on the broad gravel floor.