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The marches from Shipki to Nako are :
Shipki to Shipki Fields, .
about 16,000 feet),
4 7 7
NAKO AND THE NAKOWALLAH.
A MOUNTAIN POOL-PLEASURES OF CAMP-LIFE-A STRANGE FEELING
-INCLEMENT WEATHER-FOOD-TIBETAN APPETITES-HOUSES-
At Nako we camped close to the village, on the grassy bank of a small lake. The other side of this lake was lined with large poplar and willow trees, and in so desolate a region the place appeared exceedingly beautiful. Elsewhere it might not have appeared so striking; but there is nothing like slow difficult travelling and tentlife, or camping out, for enabling one to appreciate the scenery. I particularly felt this to be the case in the upper parts of Kashmir, where not only the scene of each night's encampment, but even every turn of the beautiful wooded valleys, was deeply impressed upon my memory. Nako is a little over 12,000 feet high; and though I had already slept at higher altitudes on the Kúng-ma Pass, the weather had become colder, and I here, for the first time, experienced a sensation which the head of the Yarkand expedition had warned me not to be afraid of. It consisted in being suddenly
awakened at night by an overpowering feeling of suffocation and faintness, which one unaccustomed to it, or not warned about it, might readily mistake for the immediate approach of death. It is a very curious feeling —just as if the spirit were about to flit from the body ; but a few more days of travelling along the line of 12,000 feet enabled me to get rid of it altogether.
At Nako we stayed two nights, and must have been in much need of a rest, for we enjoyed our stay there immensely in spite of the exceedingly inclement weather. It is in an almost rainless district, but it is occasionally visited by rain or snow, and we happened to hit on the time of one of these storms. Soon after our arrival about mid-day the thermometer sank to 50°, and next morning was at 47°, and rain fell, or chill raw mists swept over us. Occasionally the clouds would clear away, showing the mountain above us white with newfallen snow down to within a few hundred feet of our tent; and this sort of weather continued during the period of our stay at this highly elevated village. At night it was intensely cold ; the wind carried the rain into our frail abodes wherever it could find admission; and though the canvas of our tents did not admit the wet exactly, yet it was in a very damp state, which added to the coolness of the interior.
Nevertheless we felt quite at home, and our servants also enjoyed themselves much. They amused themselves with various athletic games; and, to my astonishment, I found Silas, who had spent all his life within the tropics, swimming across the lake, which was a most dangerous thing to do, owing to the almost icy coldness of the water and the number of tangled weeds which it contained. This, and our general
cheerfulness, said a great deal for the beneficial effects of high mountain air, and of a nourishing diet of milk, mutton, game, and wheat or barley flour, so superior to the rice, curries, vegetables, and pulse, with which the people of India delight to stuff themselves. The piles of chuppattis, or girdle-cakes, which my servants baked for themselves, were enormous; so were their draughts of milk; and I supplied them with a great deal of mutton, which they did not undervalue.
The people of all the Tibetan-speaking countries also eat enormously. They always had something before starting, however early the hour might be; and whenever we halted for a little on the way, they took out their suttú, or roasted barley flour, and if there happened to be any water accessible, kneaded this flour into large balls about the size of a cricket-ball, and so ate it with great gusto. On halting for the day, which was most usually about three in the afternoon, while the men assisted us in pitching the tents and making other arrangements, the women immediately fell to work in making chuppattís and preparing great pots of tea-broth, into which they put salt, butter, flour, sometimes even meat, and, in fact, almost anything eatable which turned up. After they had done with this, the whole of their afternoons and evenings appeared to be spent in eating and supping, varied occasionally by singing or a wild dance. Sometimes they prolonged their feasting late into the night; and it was a mystery to me where all the flesh they consumed came from, until I observed that the Himalaya are very rich in the carcasses of sheep and goats which have been killed by exposure or by falling rocks. All this eating enables the Tibetans to carry enormous burdens, and to make long marches up and down their terrible mountains. Among the rice-eating Kashmirians I noticed that large-bodied, strong enough looking young men were grievously oppressed, and soon knocked up, by burdens which Tibetan women could have carried gaily along far more difficult paths, and which their husbands would have thought nothing of. But even in Tibet the heaviest burden did not always go to the strongest bearer. A very common way was for my bigárrís to engage in a game of chance the night before starting, and so settle the order of selecting packages. Occasionally the strongest men used their strength in order to reserve for themselves the lightest burdens. I noticed also, as an
I invariable rule, that the worst carriers, those who had the most need of husbanding their breath, were always the most talkative and querulous, while the best were either silent or indulged only in brief occasional exclamations.
The houses I had met with hitherto had all slated roofs; but at Nako, as all through Spiti, and also in Zanskar, thorn bushes were thickly piled on the roofs, and in some cases actually constituted the only roofs there were except beams. This is done to preserve the wood below, and it probably does, from the effects of the sun in so dry a climate; and it must also assist in keeping out the cold; but it gives the houses a peculiar furzy look, and denies the people the great privilege of using the top of the house beneath their own as an addendum to their own abode. I purchased at this village a pretty large shaggy white dog, of a breed which is common all over China. We called it Nako, or the Nakowallah, after the place of its birth ; and