It was on the sixth day after leaving Hatgal that the trail petered out. In its place, a tangle of tiny channels began to eat its way westwards down a long valley floor, paved by fist-sized, weather-rounded stones. On either side of the river basin rose steep, jagged walls of rock enthusiastically smothered in green by the spring’s new growth of larch and pine. A whopping green trout flashed past beneath the clear waters that trickled and filtered down from the lofty whitewashed crags.
But for all its unspoiled splendour, the landscape was accompanied by no soaring Hollywood overture, no epic camera-swoop across the path of a silhouetted hero. All lay still and silent. This was the kind of wilderness that turned a man into a tiny speck, his unseen travails rendered vain and pointless. There was no romance in the thought of spending days passing amongst these pristine peaks. Like much of so-called adventure travel, it was simply a job that had to be done. Smiles and satisfaction would come later.