Day 8 the D-day why? Because this was day we had planned to visit the most beautiful, The Pangong Tso Lake, and the toughest of all terrains where a bike can go, The mighty Marsmikla/Marsimik la (unofficially the highest motorable pass of the world, situated at the altitude:18634ft).
One of the best links on the net related to Marsmik la:
Pangong Tso links:
Disclaimer: All the photos posted for this day have been captured by Sunil sir. I had many pictures for the day but I lost it somehow. Big thanks to Sunil for clicking such nice snaps even though going through the hardships of the M-Top
More pics clicked by Sunil:
I have watermarked the pictures just to save piracy and not take away credits from him for the pictures.
We woke up at 6 and started packing things. By 6:30 we had reached Paagal Naala.
There was very little water in stream, all the ice at the peaks hasn't started melting yet. Everyone else was ahead of me and they had successfully crossed the stream. Now only I and the scorpio was remaining on this side of the stream.
Prabhu And Chetan Crossing, Sunil Sir taking the photograph
Now my turn, I had crossed 90% of the Naala with ease but then last 10% was where the water was flowing with more force and there were slippery rocks underneath the water. My bike's tyres being bald it was always tough on the slippery surface and the expected happened, I slipped once from a big stone but nothing major I was able to control it. I had to put my left foot down in the ice cold water. But then in process of tackling the slippery rocks I reached a place and I had to climb a rock almost a foot high. Tyres started slipping and I couldn't climb the rock. Then Sunil sir suggested me to go back a little and take a detour where there were not so high rocks. I did that. All this while our scorpio driver was seeing my struggle and he desperately wanted to help me get out of it (He was so energetic and always ready to give a helping hand).
While I was backing up my bike so that I can take the detour, our driver came to help me and he tried pushing the bike out of the rocks. But poor driver he didn't want to step into the ice cold water and he stepped on a rock on the left side of the bike and pushed me in the same direction. I was already off-balance trying to back the bike and he pushed me from left side. Result as expected I lost control and bike just tipped over to the right. Then Sunil sir came to the rescue and he took out the bike from the rocks. Our driver was feeling guilty of pushing me down but I said it's ok not a problem. Here are the photos of I crossing the Paagal Naala.
Slippery rocks, notice my foot going into the water. Boy was that cold or what :). Also notice our driver (the one with the cap on).
Here comes my saviour. He pushed me from the left side and bike tipped to the right
After crossing the stream I quickly removed my shoes and socks as it was freezing cold with the ice cold water inside the shoe.
Meanwhile our scropio driver crossed the stream with not much of difficulty. After that we waited and saw some more vehicles crossing the stream including the army truck which had difficulty big time crossing it and a qualis also got stuck for a long time.
We started towards Pangong Tso. A little ahead there was a bifuraction towards Pangong and the village Pobhrang(which leads to the mighty Marsmik la). Our plan was to visit Marsmikla and then go to Pangong. We wanted to have some breakfast before doing the off-roading. We took the route to Pobhrang first and then decided to go look for some small restaurant on the route to Pangong.
While taking a U-turn we all turned and started towards the other route and suddenly we hear a big bang behind us. And what we saw was shocking. I saw Prabhu and his bike lying on the road almost under the scorpio. We helped Prabhu and got his bike up. Prabhu's leg got hurt the most as it was stuck under the bike.
Here's what happened actually. When everybody took the U turn, Prabhu was a little late in turning. While backing up the scorpio our driver didn't spot Prabhu taking the turn and he directly ran into Prabhu's bike which caused that little accident. It could have been worse but by god's grace everything was fine. A sprain in Prabhu's leg and bike's crash guard bent. We applied the pain relief spray on his leg and he felt better after sometime. Once Prabhu was ok with moving on I started walking towards our bikes while others padking things up. My bike was on the side of the road and it was standing almost vertical with the side stand. After I wore my gloves and helmet, I held my bike's handle from the left side. Suddenly I felt the bike is has started tilting towards the other side and it was going to fall. I tried pulling the bike back up. But my strength and the bike's weight had no match, the bike pulled me too along with it. I didn't want to fall down on the bike as it would hurt me. Instead I jumped on the other side using the momentum with which the bike was pulling me. I safely landed doing a summersault (boy o boy was that a perfect summersault) on the other side of the bike and the bike just rested on the crash guard. As soon as I landed on the other side I started laughing like crazy because of the stunt I just did :D
Sunil sir saw my bike falling and me doing the summersault and ran towards me for helping me. We got the bike back up and everybody started laughing on what just happened.
It was a good laugh after that smalll dangerous accident happened with Prabhu. Sorry no photos of that incident as this thing happened suddenly and nobody anticipated it.
Everybody geared up and started looking for the restaurant but coudn't find one.
We decided to visit Marsmikla directly. Pobhrang was around 40 kms from Paagal Naala and from there Marsmikla was around 22kms.
We reached Pobhrang and we had to show our permits in the army check post.
The army officer who checked our permits wished us good luck as not many people have made successfully to the M-top.
We started towards M-top and it was the worst of the roads. It was a total off-road with big rocks and the small track made by the trucks was full of dust. There was a steep climb on one side and decent on the other side which meant if you loose control and if you start going down, you won't be able to get back on the right track so easily and probably would end up falling on the rocks.
We went slowly and cautiously. We had heard from other bikers that first few kms was pretty easy and riders have to tackle the off-road. But last 5 kms or so bikers had to literally push the bike to the top.
As we continued further and upwards it got tougher and tougher. But yeah some breathtaking scenes en-routes. Since this a route where not many trucks go frequently, the whole ambience was raw and was very natural with not much of urban things to be seen. All this while we were on the routes which was frequently used by army guys and civilian vehicles. But this place was serene and nothing other than the mountains and an off-road to be seen. We stopped at one place and had a look further and I saw an off-road track which was very very steep upwards. I asked Sunil sir is that the track we have to go? He said yes that is the toughest part of Marsmikla.
Notice the steep decline
We reached the steepest parts of the route and now my bike's bad tyres started to show their character. It was very very steep with lose rocks. Tyres were slipping, bike didn't have that much of torque because we had climbed up till 17500 ft which is the height of Tangalangla pass. Everybody else went up ahead of me but my bike was not ready to climb. Then I rested there only for some time and again try climbing. Somehow I climbed one of the steep climbs with high revs and pushing the bike with my feet. Then I saw further somebody's bike has fallen down. I realized it was Prabhu's bike with a little oil spilt. I parked my bike and went upto him, Suni lsir had already reached. I heard them fighting verbally if Prabhu's bike will make it to the top.
But anyways Prabhu again started going up on his bike and Sunil sir said to me "It is not about the ride, it is about the rider that matters in conquering this top". I kept this in mind and again started climbing.
The small dot in the middle is poor me paddling towards the top. The tyres were not at all holding on the lose rocks.
A lot of fuel wasted due to high revs and still I was like 5 kms away from the destination. I was totally tired pushing the bike with my feet while sitting on the bike. At one point I thought I would give up and trek my way up. But then I saw the scorpio driver coming from back. He chatted with me for a while and told that his jeep's rear suspension plate has broken but he is still keen on making it to the top. to make his jeep lighter he dropped all our lugggage in the middle and opened his bonut so that the engine cools down faster.
Then I also thought, what the heck I can't give up like this while all the others are able to make it to the top. Then I again took a deep breath and started again. I do not know from where I got that strength and will to make it to the top and from then on I didn't stop anywhere and continously climbed up be it on the bike or off the bike pushing it. I saw from a distance all the guys waving hands for me which motivated me more. And finally I reached to the top. I couldn't believe that I made it to the top and I asked Sunil sir is that it or do we have to go higher. Then he said he said, Relax you have made to the mighty M-top and he showed me the milestone which said M.Kela 0kms. I was so happy that I made it. Had I not made it I would have been regretting this my whole life because I was the last person to arrive in the team.
Anyways it was a happy ending overall with all our vehicles making successfully to the top which in itself is an achievement.
And probably these were the world's first Comets ever to make it to the M-top.
The team and the steeds making it to the top
One thing I would like to say there being at theM- top. People in the team were arguing upon whose bike reached there first. For e.g. which comet in the team reached the M-top first. But in my point of view does it really matter that whose bike reached first among the tem?
One should be happy that all of us made it to the top no matter what the circumstances were. You see your bike parked along side the milestone, that itself says, congrats you made it till here on a two wheeler. And that is enough for me at least. I am riding in Himalayas which was a dream come true to me. Doesn't matter if I reached first or last. I am not saying this because I was the last person reach there but even if I was the first person to make it to the top I would have said the same thing. Riding in Himalayas isn't about clocking Kms or arguing who reached first among the team members.
Anyways all said and done it was time to go back down to Pangong Lake and head towards Chushul en-route Spangmik.
After relaxing for sometime we started back and the time was around12.30 I guess, we came a little down from the top and checked the altitude and it said 5530mt or approx 18500 and we said wow we are at the world's highest motorable point.
Prabhu's Nokia Navigator Reading
Some pics while coming down from M-top.
While coming down Prabhu became too much adventurous and tried something extra which he shouldn't have done. Resulting in two successive falls. Nothing major just the bike's crash guard bent yet again.
We took a break in Pobhrang village, had some chocolates and cold drinks. We then returned to Pangong lake and had lunch.
Some photos of the beautiful Pangong tso.
First look of the beautiful Pangong Tso
After lunch we decided to head towards Chushul via Spangmik as we had already lost precious days before. But fate or rather the mighty himalayas had other plans for us. Around 10 kms ahead there was another stream which was overflowing at that time and we met some passers telling that there is a scorpio stuck in the middle of the stream and it is impossible to cross the stream at this time. So it is like de ja vu of the last evening at Paagal Naala. Anyways we reached the place where stream was overflowing and indeed it was impossible to cross it at that time. It was getting wider by the minute. We saw the scorpio stuck in the middle and the driver trying somethings to get out.
We then headed back towards the camps where we had to stay for rest of the evening and the night. Meanwhile our drivers was feeling very upset that his fellow driver is stuck with his scorpio over there. And he then decided to help the other driver to get his jeep out of the stream. We came back to the camps had a nice photoshoot of all of us and then had a proper Leh style dinner. Our driver was successful to get the other jeep out of the stream and he also stayed in the camps for the night.
We tried helping the scorpio guy but in vain. Notice the water level increasing under our bikes too
The camps cost around 200 per head and there were some rooms too having two to three beds per room. The price of the beds are the same i.e. 200 per head.
I and Chetan decided to stay in the tent and Sunil sir, Prabhu and Mohan chose to be in the rooms.
I spend my time alone beside the lake sitting under the sky. For the first time I actually saw the milky way. In our cities due to so many lights on the ground we aren't able to see the stars.
Yet again we lost some precious time because of the characterstics of the mountains. Time and again nature tells us humans in its way that who is the boss :)
Yet again we decided to push off from the place further very early in the morning so that we can cross the stream with not much of difficulty.
Next day plan was to reach Chushul (where the famous war with China in 1962 was fought) and from there on to reach Hanle the same day. But fate had some other plans for us............