Tea Horse Road Chronicles - The Crossing
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Poignant in this years' end and the arrival of a new time and space. A last vestige of travel across the glacier-fed waterways of the Himalayas and a 'conductor' of the craft with some words of wise counsel moving forward. The conductor reminded our team of the wisdom of such journeys as we skimmed over the water atop the leather craft to 'feel' what it was like to cruise over the water with only oars and currents used to navigate . "You will not take another journey for granted when you travel in such a way", he said, and the words ring particularly clearly right now.
One of the gems of old world Himalayan transport was the yak hide ‘ferry’ that would take tea, salt, mules and journeyers across waterways where there were no bridges. It still does operate in nooks of the Himalayas, though not many of these iconic pieces of the the caravan-travel world exist. Yak hides (six apparently needed) were sewn together and 'treated' with resin. Displacing very little water, they were conducted by competent hands that used oars as steering and propelling mechanisms. This viewing was a special moment on our way from Lhasa south to Kalimpong, near a place called Saga. Yeshi and I would take a brief back and forth journey across the torrents of glacial water. It was a symphony of motion, nature, and where time just briefly halted.