Day 9 – June 20 – Down to Hemis

The last day of the first section of our trek took us down an easy trail to the Indus valley. Most of it was actually a lightly traveled road that the Border Roads Organization (BRO) had built to a town in the valley. We could only speculate why BRO felt it important to make a paved road to 20 houses in a blind valley.

After lunch, we took a bridle path parallel to the Indus over to another side valley that held our final destination, Hemis Monastery. Hemis was holding a famous monastic festival the next day, and its campgrounds were already packed. We set up in an overflow campsite by some stupas at the entrance of the valley.

After a little rest and some baths, we walked up to the monastery. Hemis is the largest monastery in Ladakh, having been patronized by the king. It is associated with the Drukpa sect based in Bhutan, whose leader was already in town. The main structures are four stories tall and include a large standing statue of Guru Padmasambhava, who often figures large in Tibetan Buddhist iconography. The monks were busy preparing for the next day's festival.

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