I was sifting through our summer 2006 pics, and came across these two furry fellows. The pic was taken by Aussie Dan after I’d fed this friendly miniature goat a piece of chapati. The toothbrush was for my own benefit. The three of us were reaching the end of our Karzoc Valley ultra-light (and ultra-hungry) hike’n'bike adventure, on a mission to unearth new singletrack. A story which I’d like to write up one day (if they’ll have it) for a fine UK publication by the name of Singletrack.
The night before, we’d dined with a Tibetan semi-nomadic shepard and his wife, as well as a handful of hey-diddly-neighbours in cowboy hats who’d crammed into the tent to watch us. As luck would have it, the wife spoke surprisingly good English, and told us a bit about their lives.
In the warmer summer months the small village of a dozen families cross the pass and descend to the vast, grassy expanse of the Morei plains to fatten up their livestock – in their case a grand total of 99 Pashmina goats. In the winter, everyone huddles away in cuboid, mud brick houses. They’re set in a protective quandrangle, with windows only on the inside: this place gets very, very cold. It’s 3 days and nights away by horse from Leh (when the roads are cut off by snow) and a real ghost town in the summer. We’d passed through it the day before, and even in these warmer months a cutting wind was whipping through the valley.
Every once in a while, a businessman from Leh visits to buy the pashmina wool, considered the softest in the world. Interestingly, the goats aren’t sheared but brushed, which removes their fine hairs.The family treated us to a hearty breakfast (goat milk and goat yogurt amongst other things) and then we said our farewells – the husband set off with his mates towards the hills, yodelling and yipping to the various yaks, sheep and goats that were milling about. I said I’d go back next year with some pictures.
The Pashmina Massive.
This chap didn’t say much, but he seemed to like watching us.
One for the family album.
Inside the nomad tent, warm and out of the wind…
Singletrack off the Morei Plain.
Pics by Daniel and Cass.