Can we expect anything this weekend?
Can we expect anything this weekend?
dude I am reading this trip for last 2 hours and its like I am there on my dream tour.
Nice posts dude. Hope to read the remaining soon
With my feet above the ground... I fly myself between the sounds.....and now it starts rushing in ....I feel it move across my skin
I'm glad that you liked the log and pictures. You're guess is right, post Amritsar I was using a slr , but don't have any great photographic hopes I'm just a noob till now!
About the blue skies, well the sky is certainly different at that altitude but it would be more evident and similar to as seen in the pics if you see through a polarized glass. And yea a lil bit of saturation was tweaked too
Will update this log soon....
This appears to have been an amazing journey for you three. A journey that was as much within as without. And what difference a mere fortnight spent like this can make to one's life always comes as a surprise. Thats motorcycling in the mountains for you....especially the Himalayas. No wonder they are supposed to be the nirvanic epicenter for all mankind.
Your narration comes straight from the heart. No, thats not cliche'd praise. The exquisite detail that you recount cannot come just from memory. The experience has etched itself deeper and affected you in every manner for you to be able to enunciate it with such lucidity.
Great pictures and wonderful expression bring to life an astounding journey that you people undertook. Thanks for sharing and almost taking the entire xBhp as pillion with you through this thread. Take your time but do put up Day First to Day Last. We wait....
..And I thought it was me who was late this time on, in following the update after Drass-Kargil. But ,here, it seems like you are one Praful who's been the lazy bum in updation
More than looking at the pics, I have always been fond of the narration, which I must say is top notch! And lovely formatting as always ! BTW I am following your travelogue both here and on BCM so expect distibuted comments
Praful.....no updates yet??
Day 7 : Leh - Diskit
Saturday, 26th September: As I woke up this morning I could really feel something different. We were going to scale Khardung La today, it wasn't the bike or the terrain or even the climate that I was worried about, what was worrying me to death was the probability of getting hit by AMS. We had been taking all the precautions so far which included poping Diamox pills and keeping our bodies well hydrated. So far so good, but today would be close to 4000 feet higher than I had been ever before.
The day's plan was simple, me and Pranay were going to be washing our bikes. Amit a.k.a. DarthLucifer would be joining us and we'd be riding into the Nubra valley. And being the late latif's we were by the time our we got our backsides out of bed and in motion to start the bike cleaning process it was already 9AM. Slowly but steadily we did manage to clear our bikes of the Zoji La dust attack, we were fully aware of the fact the bikes would get dirty again as we stepped out Leh town, but the joy of riding a nice shiny bike over rules all sense of practicality.
Soon enough Amit bored of waiting for us to start joined us at our guesthouse. Seeing us washing our bike, he too got into the action of cleaning up his bike. Veda was indifferent till this moment, but looking at the three of us toiling with our bikes made him feel kindda guilty and he too took a cloth and dusted his bike clean.
By the time we started from Leh town it was pretty late, almost close to 10.30AM. After the initial kilometer or two the roads improved a fair bit. Since today we had a new member to ride we had to change our riding positions a it to accommodate Amit, I remained in the lead followed by Amit and then our usual formation of Veda followed by Pranay. We din't take too many breaks whilst climbing up, but the chill factor certainly made its presence felt every time stopped. And almost every time we stopped and additional thermal layer would be donned. Not only did the cold increase as we got higher but also the beauty the vista's held for us. We took a few posing and hydrating breaks before reaching South Pullu checkpost.
I was a bit ahead of the guys when I reached the South Pullu check post and as no one stopped me I din't stop either. As I took the u-turn after the check post and started to climb up I could see Amit stopping and pulling over. This is where I realized my mistake and headed back down towards the check post where we submitted copies of our permits. Roads beyond South Pullu were pretty much broken, and we had really stopped bothering about roads henceforth.
As the roads were pretty bad the gap between the entire group would increase, then I'd generally stop and take a break to allow the others to catch up. Pranay felt quite at home on the roads, he'd mentioned back home the roads were almost like what we were riding on.
Can you spot the guys?
India Gate seen in the distance!
Gateway of Nubra
At this altitude, although there were no signs of AMS hitting me. The walking around up and down for photos were making me quite breathless. I took it easy from hereon, small steps to reach back my back, no sudden movements etc. I could ride the bike without any issues though . Soon after passing the gateway of Nubra we were there. We had reach the World's Highest Motorable pass. What followed was the usual set of posing with the board pictures. Once the initial excitement had settled down we realised that our stomachs were craving for some food as it was around 1PM when we reached to top. What followed was a series of bowls of maggi and tea. We had been told not to spend more than 30-45mins at the top, but we ended up spending almost 2 hours at the pass. Pranay decided to trek up a path to click some picture, the rest of declined his invitation to join him as neither was feeling upto it to exert so much at this altitude.
The decent to the North Pullu check post on the other side was not as swift as we had hoped, we encountered an Army convoy ascending from the other side and we had to make way for them. It was a slow and painful descent, which got even further delayed by a landslide clearing in progress.
Me and Pranay had fallen back as while starting from K-Top his bike had some starting issues. It seemed as though the battery was not able provide enough juice to the starter. This was the first sign of trouble from the bikes, for now it was limited only to Pranay's bike. After much struggling it started, this time while descending I rode behind him just in case his bike gave up again, but luckily for us that episode did not repeat itself for the next 24 hours. Just before the final few u-turns for the North Pullu check post I saw a 'shortcut', it avoided a long winding u-turn and put me directly on the road below. Pranay was shocked to see me ahead of him . We stopped at the check post to submit our permits again.
Inside the Army canteen here we a couple of jawans who had just returned from Siachen, which was quite evident from their stark white uniforms. A couple of them got interested in us asked us where we had come from. As it turned out a whole bunch of them were from Karnataka. I called out to Veda so they can talk to someone in their own mother tongue. They all were thrilled to find someone from Bangalore on a bike and conversing in Kannada with them, Veda had his 15 minutes of fame before the clock telling us to proceed as time was short. Throughout this trip we kept in mind not to click defence bases, dams and the like, but from here the view of Khardung La was something else, so took a picture of it.
With 12 kms of North Pullu lies the quaint little village of Khardung. Roads were nothing short excellent beyond the check post we were quite confident of reaching our destination for the day, Diskit. The sun was playing peek-a-boo with us along the mountains, and this play of light created beautiful vistas for us to see. We had decided to take lesser breaks so we don't loose time, but this place we just had to stop.
The breaks did not stop here, just a few kilometers from this place the Nubra valley opened itself up for us in all its grandeur with the Shyok river running on the valley floor. The Tsati village was also visible on the valley floor, we stopped here to take photos, and Pranay took a quick power nap to recharge.
Shyok River visible on the Valley Floor
Since Pranay wanted a slightly longer break, it was decided that Amit and Veda continue forward we would catch up later. Along the way we came across another short cut, hesitantly we took it and were happy to save on the kilometers . Then we came across another shortcut, but we were too fast to slow down for it in time. I braked and waited for Pranay to slow down to, I asked him should be take that shortcut, with a big grin on his face he said "Why not?" . Only later did we realize what this had put us through. This seemed to be really huge shortcut and seemed to save close to about 2kms, but about half way through this shortcut I stopped as the gradient went from 'fun' to 'insane'. It was not something that should be attempted on bikes, Pranay came along side and had the same expression like me on seeing the path that lay ahead. Pranay went aside scouting for alternative easier paths, but found none.
It was a spur of the moment decision, I decided to go down the path. Till date I am not sure if I regret making that decision. What followed from here was the toughest offroading I've ever done in my life. The steep gradient combined with the loose mud and gravel made descending down this extremely tricky. The only way to go down in a controlled manner was to take this slow and steady and move inch by inch. I had to literally fight with the bike to stop it from going down under me. There were times when the mud was so loose that the front tyre would dig in till almost near the axle, when you are going down this is a dangerous position to be in, the rear and lift up and come crashing down on you. Brake, Skid, Brake, Skid....and finally after I don't know how many minutes I reached down. We sure saved up in kilometers but ended up probably spending triple the time in getting down this. Pranay started his descent only after I had reached half way down. I've clicked a few photos of Pranay coming down, the gradient is really not evident from these pictures though.
Pranay after completing the 'shortcut'
This is how the slope looks....
View from half way up the slope
Looking down from the halfway point
The Road Ahead!
We initially started taking shortcuts as practice runs for Marismek La, but this short cut left us with more than what we had bargained for and decided that henceforth we wont be using any more shortcuts. We were glad to be back on tarmac after this episode. Amit and Veda were anxiously waiting for us as we had taken more time than they thought we would. From here on it was more or less a non-stop ride to Diskit. At the time when we reached the Khalsar turn off the sun was starting to set and we soon would need our headlight, the only consoling factor was that it wasn't going to be cold as we were at a mere 10500feet and Diskit just a few kilometers away. As we arrived in diskit we were pleasantly surprised to see many options to stay. We found a nice cosy place to stay for night. The charge for the night for 300 bux if I remember correctly. Dinner was served to us cooked at the host's home and even though it was just the standard fare of rice daal roti and sabzi it was tasty as hell.
After my nearly failed attempts at night photos in Drass, I went out again to capture the night sky.
Moon Setting behind a Hill
The starry night sky
Owing to the drop in temperatures in the night I retired back indoors soon enough. We had to have our rest for tomorrow was going to be yet another exciting day.
There was something about the peacefulness of this place which struck a cord within me somewhere, I fell in love with this place and decided that I must come back here sometime soon. As soon as I hit the bed I was fast asleep, not due to tiredness but the peace surrounding me.
11. Day 8 : Diskit-Panamik-Leh
12. Day 9 : Leh-Pangong Tso
13. Day 10 : Pangong Tso - Marismek La - Leh
Last edited by Praful; 05-12-2010 at 10:28 AM.