This morning we walk directly away from the mountain environment before us, descending the Zamdo Nangi Chhu valley to Laya, the largest village of the trek. The forests are thick for the several hours; and the trail winds down beside the river steeply, until we reach pastures of the farmers of outer Laya. A swing in the trail brings us up to the main settlement which is spread out over a broad spur several hundred metres above the Mo Chu River. There are approximately 1,000 inhabitants in this high set village, and there is a school, Basic Health Unit, several small shops and a gompa (temple) to meet their needs. Life is not easy in this cooler, isolated location that is snowed in during winter. Much of their living is reliant on yaks (meat, wool and dried cheese), and one annual crop of barley, mustard and turnips. Beneath the village is an army post protecting the frontier with Tibet, whilst above us to the east are spectacular views ahead to Masang Gang (7194m) and toward the region of Lunana where we will trek for the next 12 days. Prevailing snow conditions will be influential to our journey, as Lunana gets snowed-in at cold times of the year, and your guides will do their best to achieve our trip program without compromising safety. Furthermore, with good luck, we will be able to synchronise our change of animal porterage some time soon after our arrival and we can head off on the trail the next morning.