Post #97: Irdupayu to Payu to Jhula, Another 10 hour Day and 20 Miles.! Aug 14, 2013. (A9).
Today is Pakistani Independence Day……….A National Holiday. Interesting…….. AND…..It was the third day in a row trekking down the Baltoro. Another long day to get out of the Karakoram on the way home…..but I continued to savor Every minute of it. After All, I have kind of decided that this is probably my favorite mountain ramge (ranks right up there with the Elks in COLO)
I woke again before 6am, actually it was 5am, and getting light fast. At 12,600’ at IrduPayu it was a warm morning, above freezing and I went to the dining tent in Shorts for a Final round of Pancakes on the Expedition. Barely a cloud in the Sky and the Great Trango Tower looked good in the early morning light.
I wanted to get moving before the Sun came up, because it was going to be a Hot one. In this unique environment, the Glacier actually flows into the Desert at it’s terminus, it is such a contrast yet such a surreal landscape. Green Pastures along the valley walls also made the backdrops stunning (Photo I mentioned from yesterday’s trek in Irdukas with the Horses)
Sand dunes were present to the west of camp as I walked along the side of the glacier. At times I trudged through them and felt like I was headed to the beach rather than down a huge mass of ice. In shadows and dropping below 12,000’, the air was getting very thick now. Payu Peak and the Spires across the valley were brilliant in the rising sunlight. Nearly 50 miles from Basecamp now, and approaching the Glacier’s Snout, I crossed terminal moraines and rock piles and saw the Braldo River to my west carving it’s way towards the lower valleys.
The ticket to relatively even ground with an actual trail on dirt and Alluvial Fan could be seen on the Valley Floor to the Right of the End of the Glacier…..I couldn’t wait for freedom. I had been on a Glacier for the past 50 days and I was ready to feel real earth underneath my feet as opposed to ice and snow.
The end of the Baltoro Glacier is a truly unique environment and a special place. Ice is covered in Piles and mounds of rock. Sometimes the Ice shows through but I covered in Black Dirt…..in some places the ice is visible, in most places there are actually plants and gorgeous purple flowers growing on the Soil at the end of this glacier over the top of the ice. Some sand dunes and fine dirt piles have been bull-dozed and left behind as the ice has melted. These rocks and dirt and ice have probably taken over 1000 years to make it all the way down to this point….some of the rocks carried down after being shaved off of the peaks of K2 or Gasherbrums, or other mountains High up the Valley over 50 miles away.
My favorite spot was to sit on the Glacier 500 feet above the valley floor and peer down into the enormous snout. This was where the Braldo river was literally Gushing from the Glacier and running down into the Valley Beyond. It resembled a Giant Milk Shake of Rock Flour and mud and Dirt emulsified into the Water that suddenly became a river. This huge hole looked rather dangerous, the river very powerful and it was astounding that this huge mass of ice like a sponge was now releasing this massive torrent of water to quench the thirst of the desert basins heading out towards Payu, Jhula and Askole. Eventually this body of water makes it to the Indus River and all the way to the Indian Ocean through Pakistan.
I took my first steps off of the glacier and on solid dirt ground along the riverbank felt like and old sailor letting go of my sea legs (my “Glacier” Legs. ) I bid farewell to the largest glacier on earth, as well as my final Nutter Butter cookies and Clif Bars for the entire trip!
It was a scenic trek, and the journey still had another 5 hours ahead plus a half day to get to Askole. I took a break an hour later in the Campsite of Payu, a desert oasis with large Shade trees of green and a coke I bought from the local porter caretaker of the campsite for 600 Rupees for 1.5 Liters ($6)……ice cold soda tasted too good on the hot day.!
The afternoon got hotter as I dropped lower along the raging Braldo river. A couple of glacial stream crossings were interesting to watch with some of our porters and a foreshadowing sign of crossings yet to come as we exited the Baltoro valley.
At 4pm I reached Jhoula as the sun lowered below the high Canyon wall to cool me off for the Afternoon with tired legs after three days of trekking. I was hoping I’d be strong enough to make Askole the next day.
“This journey just might get even more fun with the Jeep Ride back to Skardu tomorrow afternoon” , I thought.
We shall see…….catch you tomorrow!