On the chilly morning of 4th February, we left for the trek in a Tempo Traveller at around 9 am. The weather had changed suddenly that morning and we were compelled to wear multiple layers in Leh only. It took us almost 4 hours to reach Shingra Koma via Chilling, a distance of about 70 kms. Make sure you keep your camera and phones ready to capture some good shots of the frozen Zanskar river on the way.
Shingra Koma is a place where the actual trek begins. The other trek groups back from their trek were taking the dip in the cold water of Zanskar. Our local guide for the trek, Chomdan asked us to wear the gumboots. Sandeep gave us a demo on how to walk on the ice and how to fall as well. When you fall, your brain instructs you to fall either on your wrists or elbow as a kind of safety mechanism. This is something trekkers have to avoid while walking on the Chadar. Sandeep showed us how to make sure that you fall on your rucksack without banging your wrists/ elbows on the ice and getting them hurt.
After 5-10 minutes of practice, we finally started our trek. The distance between Shingra Koma and Bakula is merely 1.5 kmand takes about 30-45 minutes to cover. We reached the Bakula campsite at around 2 pm. The porters put up the tents at a distance from the Chadar on a hillock and served us tea and lunch.
After some rest, we assembled on the Chadar for another practice session. It was an icebreaker session in a way. Apart from walking and skidding on the ice, we played Ice Kabaddi and Football which was full of fun. While on our way to Bakula, I was under impression that I had learned to walk on the ice pretty well as I never fell during this short journey. That happiness didn’t last long. It was this session during which I experienced what it feels to fall on the hard ice sheet. Nonetheless, it turned out to be the best part of the entire trek. The session actually succeeded in turning all strangers into friends.