Last night dinner forced me to wake up at 6 am. I explored the riverside in search of solitude
My stomach was not feeling good, still i had parathas in breakfast. Nikhil didn’t eat anything for the same reason. We left Darcha at 8 am. We had no idea that this day was going to be the toughest and one of the most beautiful day in the whole trip. Roads were very good after Darcha. We stopped at ‘Deepak tal’. The scene was simply awesome.
Roads were more or less good but very often a large stream of water would flow across the roads. Water flow and the stones would make it difficult to cross.
I covered my shoes with polythenes to avoid the freezing water, but got stuck in the middle of the flow. I had to change my shoes. I tied the wet ones to the bike. I remember that after this instance, every 2 hours for the next few days, i had to repeat the above procedure of switching shoes. I wish i could have water proofed the part below my knees.
The way to Baralacha La was full of snow. I think maximun snow we saw was at Baralacha La only. At one point both sides of roads had 6-7 m high walls of snow.
The above scene is similar to a shot in a song of ‘Jab We Met’ movie. Just across these snow walls was ‘Suraj tal’. It was marvelous.
The sky was crystal clear and mountains completely covered with snow.
We couldn’t stop for long at the pass because of the sub-zero temperature. After crossing Baralacha La, we had to stop twice before Sarchu, because the roads being cleared. Once we could make our way from the sides.
We reached Sarchu and i got time to dry my socks. We had lunch there. I didn’t learn the lesson from the dinner at Darcha and again ate Dal-chawal in Sarchu. I paid the price as soon as i reached Pang Maggi emerged as a life saver for Nikhil for the next few days. Sarchu was nothing but a bunch of 3-4 tents.
It was not more than 30 min after leaving Sarchu, that we had to wait for BRO to repair a broken bridge.
It took 1 hour for them to repair the bridge. Till we were driving we didn’t face any breathing problem, but that 1 hour stay became very difficult for us. It was not more than 10 min after crossing that bridge, we came across a tumbled truck on the middle of the road.
We somehow managed to get away from the left side of the truck. All 4 wheelers were stuck on both sides of the truck. We were the first ones to cross that truck and had been asked by the people to inform the check post at Pang, which was 50 km away, to send some help. If the road is not cleared, people had no option but to spend night there.
We moved on towards Pang and were circling around the Gata loops.
We crossed Nakee La and started our descent. I was ahead of Nikhil, unaware of what was going to happen with me. To avoid a pothole filled with water, i slightly turned the handle towards left and applied brakes while lowering the gear. Next second, I was on the road under the bike, trying to figure out what happened. The worst part was that the gear foot rest of my bike was broken.
Leh was 200 km away and I had no idea how to fix this. I thought that this could be the end of my trip. We knew that we won’t be able to fix this before Leh. Idea of tying the foot rest with ropes didn’t work either. With no one around, we were helpless there.
After half an hour i decided to continue the journey with my left foot hanging in air. I tried to support my leg on the half inch of metal left at the joint. But any small bump on the road was enough to let my leg easily go off the support. Switching gears had also become a big pain for me.
We moved forward and crossed Lachang La. Roads were not good till Pang and we had to go down the hills. We reported at the Pang checkpost and informed about the truck accident. They already knew about the accident. I think they got the news on wireless because no one had crossed us till there.
We reached Pang at 5 pm and decided to spend the night in tents. We were completely exhausted after the eventful day and wanted to take rest. Before entering into the tents, I wanted to check my bike’s condition. Each of the tyres had a nail in it. I didn’t bother much about it and went inside the tents. In dinner i had Maggi to eat and ‘kawa’ to drink. Kawa helped to warm up the body.
I went to bed at 8 pm, thinking that the day is finally over now. But the worst was about to come. We had no idea that Pang is an altitude of ~15600 feet. Nikhil and I both were having trouble in breathing, although we had taken Diamox tablets in the morning. Nothing seem to be working at that moment. We were only able to take very short breaths. Whenever i tried to take a deep breath, i felt slight pain in my chest. I couldn’t catch sleep for more than 30 min at a stretch. At ~ 2 am i woke up suddenly and felt giddy for 5-10 min. I was helpless and didn’t know what to do. I just tried to relax and control my breath. After some time i was normal and tried to sleep.
Life is not easy there. People living there know the value of life. There is no vegetation and farming. People rely on supplies from distant places. People can’t make any permanent set up because everything is covered by snow in winters and many areas are avalanche zones. They live for 4-5 months and spend rest of the time at lower altitude places. Tourists are the source of livelihood for them in this period. They warmly welcome every tourist and offer food and shelter. Only people who stay at high altitude areas during most of the time in a year is Indian Army. They are doing a commendable job. One has to leave the city life and experience the mountains to feel the difference.
Day summary: Darcha – Baralacha – Sirchu – Pang, 9 hrs, 160 km