All way up: Biking up to Leh and trekking in Himalayas
everybody in the group had been to Leh before I guess !!
For me it was a trip of firsts .First time to the region. First time riding an Enfield up in mountains ( that too at night, I remember starting from Rohtang at 3 :30 pm !! and reaching Keylong that night amidst bad roads at 10 pm) ,and first time climbing 5000 mts.There should always be a first . We will never be this young . So we should come outside .In the summers before it gets too cold in winters ..
Landscape post Pang
We fell in love with the Enfield and realized to ride to its true potential one must do mountains . Since we decided to this trip in Aug end ,the air was rife with speculations as usual- the roads are bad, knee deep water, rains, might take four days , mechanic issue,AMS and so on . Reminded me of photography : as doubts always creep in for the next good picture but subsides the moment you pick up a camera and start exploring the field.And so we left
On the way to Bharatpur Camp
The landscape was breath taking. I really had to curb myself not to stop every five minutes to digest the view .We were kind of alone. The speculations helped us to be one . Sarchu was the inflexion point of the ride . Sprinkled were a few tents on either side of the road set up by industrious locals that act up as an overnight halt for the passerby’s . It ‘s a place of quite and peace . Nothing goes waste in Sarchu. Locals don’t mind reading newspapers that is two months old for entertainment and keeping themselves busy. Not that there’s anything new to newspapers other than reports of gory incidents and sensationalism.
Winds criss cross the whole of night and in case you are not able to sleep will make their presence felt till wee hours of the morning. You can sing a song. Or hear your breath , smell the dampness inside the tent . It was uniform . Everything . There was no contrast .The dreams were as black as the night when you open up your eyes . At 4200 mts Sarchu might be the first real experience of staying in high altitudes for someone coming from plain .
Tribute to Daft Punk ,Morey Plains
Bike Route taken : Manali-Rohtang-Khopsar-Keylong-Jispa-Patio-Zing Zing Bar-Sarchu-Gata Loops-Morey Plains-Tangla-Upshi-Leh
Tip for Bike: Taking a bike for rent till Manali can be an expensive proposition as one might have to pay for deposit money for the bike which is not returned.
Another tip for bike : It ain’t the bum ,but the shoulders that will sore first if you are riding long distances as they require all the muscle power to balance the bike.
Mountain, pass,river ,up down, mountain ,pass, river,up down, mountain,pass,river….. bas karo yaar !!
this is how we felt for six days in a row as we averaged seven hours of walk every day . Markha trek was n’t that mild as it was supposed to be . Considering we were trekking between a barren range of mountains the weather added to our woes . It got quite hot during the day and then quite cold at later part of the day .
Abhishek’s question usually to me at this point was “How many layers of clothing ? ”
At Nemaling. Unexpected snowfall
We were often greeted by marmots, wild deers, occasional yak and donkeys as we went higher and deeper in the trek. They definitely looked a lot more comfortable than us and looked us with a curious eye as we struggled our way up. Wonder what they ate. Maybe two pills of Diamox a day . The folks from circus in Delhi just landed !! We were acting normal .For us we were on rations-one boiled egg, boiled potato ,one fruit,and biscuits . And still a few from the group crapped a lot more than usual.
From our usual routine of city we ended up following a 6 (wake up tea),7 ( breakfast) ,8 ( start moving) am routine . Amidst laughter, gorgeous views, heavy breathing and sleeping wherever we could find a place , this was worth the paradigm shift. We reached for the stars but were diminished by the sky. It was a misty way and we shall never be the same again .
Trek Route taken : Jingchen-Gandala Base Camp-Gandala Pass (4900 mts)-Skiu-Markha -Thachungse-Nemaling-Gongmarula Pass (5200 mts)-Shanshumdo-Leh
Nearly the whole of trek gang, Thachungske
Tip for trek : Being the most recent and new to the trek scenario we were offered lot of tips for the climb ,which we followed diligently . Some of them being
i) Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration . We did try and source Chang (local beer ) as remedy
ii) Don’t stop in between the trek. Don’t take a break for more than ten minutes . Spend your energy on trek rather than talking .
iii) Be the first to take a crap .Else it might be difficult for you find a decent spot .There were 12 of us !! We were usually the last to have breakfast .
iv) The day pack should have only the essentials for the trek. Ours had playing cards, couple of lenses , writing journal,deodorant,shades and bottle of water . Rest all was borrowed .
Another tip for trek : 6:30 am- 7 :30 am best time slot for morning light
Back in New Delhi and the first signs of withdrawals from mountains are showing up. In Leh the people were quite warm and hospitable. We are sure that wasn’t just because we were visitors to the area but of the inherent nature of Ladakhis (though I am sure like back in Delhi they have their own set of problems,but certainly no hangups to life ) .At Serchen we were treated to warm hospitality and generous amount of warmth .
Spalzes and Abhishek, Hemis Monastery
We are all feeling from low plain sickness with an urge to head back to mountains . Planning for Zanskar trek . Umang has even more elaborate ideas ,so we are looking for a Ladakhi girl !! if not then maybe even a boy will do for him to settle down.
Place to stay in Leh: Serchen Guest House,Upper Karzoo Area
Definitely not the first visit to the region .
Abhishek and me, Gongamarula Pass