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"So how did your friend like his H.O.T. trek?� Trager asked.

"Wasn�t a friend, just someone we did business with. I never even met the dude. Anyway, he died on his trek. Heard about it last week, just before I left."

"Jesus! They never said anything about that. Do you know what happened?"

"Couldn't tell you. �He was supposed to be a pretty spacey old guy. I only heard about him because he went out leaving the projects he was working on in a mess. Sounds like he could have just walked off the edge of something. What kind of people are going on this trek of yours?"

"I don�t know," Trager said. "But maybe I should find out. They gave me some reading to do. Go ahead and keep that brochure. I've got others."

Trager shuffled through the rest of the manila envelope. Besides the maps, it included equipment lists and various company forms. He stopped at a typed itinerary labeled, "Reconnaissance Report."

Stage 1 -- 9 miles -- The track from Kawapatri is steep but fit for ponies through forest, marg, and maidan. Camp at Gujar site 2 kos NNE of third nala.

Stage 2 -- 11 miles -- Cross Janavar Gali (13,262), descending to Sonjal at Lunwali, where provisions are not available.

Trager could barely read the report, which went on for a page and a half of fine print. He didn't understand the meaning of the Hindi words, and the English had little meaning to understand. He looked for the client roster. Freya's note to Vasant Bagchee was pinned to the sheet. The message was on H.O.T. letterhead, with a Delhi address penciled in underneath a Berkeley box number.

Springtime in Kashmir ©Talbot Bielefeldt 2020.

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