Day 9 Tso Moriri - Tso Kar - Pang - Sarchu

12 July 2010
Day 9 Tso Moriri - Tso Kar - Pang - Sarchu


So a new day and new route which I was about to take. As Nam Gayal told me the route is all jeep tracks and long (120kms + 30kms till I reach Sumdo) hence starting early was the ideal option. I had told Nam Gayal that I'll be leaving early and asked him what would be the ideal time. He told me he'll prepare tea for me and I can leave 7AM and I can cover the distance till Pang or may be Sarchu all in daylight. 
I woke up at around 6, packed all the things. The previous night I had started the GPS on my mobile to check the altitude of the place and I forgot to switch it off. By morning it had drained the battery quite a lot :(
I quickly put the phone on charging, I called in Nam Gayal and asked him to prepare tea for me.
While the tea was being prepared he gave me a little tour of his house and told this is his ancestors house and his family is staying here since ages. I had tea and clicked some pictures of the lake:



It was still very cold brr...
After tea I went to see if my bike is okay or not. I was worried as it wasn't parked in a shade and was doubtful that it'll start easily because of such cold weather. I removed the cover and tried cranking it, it did not start. I took it out on the road and tried cranking a couple times and voila it came to life. I was so relieved. I let it run for some time and I went in to get my bags. I told Nam Gayal that I am leaving and asked him for the amount that I have to pay him. He told it was 250/- for the room and 50/- for the food. I paid him the money and when I was about to leave he asked me for something which was very difficult choice for me. Nam Gayal had already seen my bags and probably noticed that I am carrying extra petrol with me for the route. He asked me if I can give him some petrol for his Gypsy as he was out of petrol. I had around 6 litres of petrol with me and even I had given him a couple of litres to him, keeping the rest for me, wouldn't have made sense for his Gypsy as he wouldn't be able to go anywhere a petrol seller (which was probably 60kms back in chumathang). I told the same to him and he concurred my thoughts and he said he can arrange petrol from other sources and I should better keep reserve petrol as much as possible due to the bad roads all the way till Tso Kar.
I tied all the baggage on to the bike and also applied chain lube, the dusty roads had made the chain very dry. I also bought some biscuits just in case I don't get any thing on the way.

So I was off to my journey clicking pictures on the way:

It was the same route through which I reached Korzok village. 
Took a picture of myself on the bridge on which the donkey welcomed when I going towards the Tso Moriri lake.


After sometime I reached the same lake which mistook as Tso moriri the previous day :D



Finally I reached the village Sumdo from where I had to take left for Tso Kar (taking right will lead me back to Mahe Bridge). I just said a small prayer and took the left. The road bettered a little bit compared to what I faced but it was still jeep tracks with small rocks and pebbles. 
Sitting back in my chair when I look at the pictures all along the trip, I realized that I missed taking pictures of what kind of roads exactly I have been through, took more pics of the landscapes in my drinks break... Probably because I was concentrating too much on moving forward and also seeing those breathtaking landscapes I used to forget all about the hardships I was facing. That is the magic of Himalayas I feel, no matter how treacherous the conditions are it still is heaven on earth.
But my next trip I have decided to take snaps all around me and not just land scapes...

I passed Sumdo village there were some people around but after I passed it the roads were deserted. Earlier I was able spot a tent or two if not some inhabitation but this time it was totally deserted. The route reminded me of a route from my previous trip and that was Pangong Lake to Chushul. Read Here. The only difference back then was that I was with the team and this time I was all by myself.

Occasionally I would spot a house or a shade


As I passed through those roads, along with the road there was a small water stream which had very less water but lots of white powder-ish deposit (as visible in the above and below pics). Also there was a pungent smell all around. I have no idea what that material was nor I could figure the cause of that smell. But if I have to guess I would say the water stream was from the bigger lakes around which have saline water. And the deposit is some kind of salt deposit after the water has evaporated and hence the smell all around too.

I was very curious about the deposits and wanted to touch it and see. Stopped for a drinks break and went to this solidified mass and touched it. It was solid and the smell was definitely emitting from the white stuff...

It was all solid and probably salty...
The deposits were all over the place...
As I turned back to my bike I saw this sight. Bike looked so tiny compared to the mountain...
I continued ahead and I came up to an interesting thing and that was, there was nobody around nor any houses I spotted a "Residential School" (forgot the name and yet again didn't take a snap of the school, my bad) located in that place.

I wasn't very sure of the route, though there was only one route. This was probably because of lack of seeing population around :D; My speed was less 20 km/hr due to the jeep tracks and there was no one around. I was feeling bored and probably started imagining things such as this..

I saw a bifurcation in the road. One was going straight ahead and another one turned left and there were some houses on the left turn. I got confused as Nam Gayal had told me that I would have to take the diversion to the left for Tso Kar. I took that left and ended up in front of a locked gate of some factory. I turned back and reached the junction again, by the time I reached I saw a Jeep coming from the village Sumdo and it headed straight ahead. I just followed the jeep for sometime, it killed some of my boredom until it disappeared crossing a pass.
Countering the bad roads, my forearms had started paining a bit. It is the thing called "arm-pump", which generally happens with the racers, where every time I pull the clutch lever I would have a pricking pain in my forearms; also it gets difficult to hold on to the handle bar. Some link I found related to it over the web:

After some twists and curves the landscape opened up and it was all plains, with snow covered mountain at a distance and Tso Kar lake in front of it. Clicked some photographs:





The roads got a little better with only small pebbles on the road but still very bumpy and arrow straight. Something like this:

Whenever I used to take a drinks break and switch off the engine there will be this silence all around me with just the whooshing sound of the wind. I would just click some pictures drink some water and just relax walking around the place all alone. I truly enjoyed this experience though a good company would have made it so much more worthwhile.

From a distance I could see Tso Kar lake which mostly looked dried up with the same white deposits around what looked like water from a distance. Somehow I couldn't make up my mind to take a detour to go near the lake as I didn't see anything interesting or something for which I make my bike go through all the off-roading hence I just clicked the pictures from a distance and continued ahead.



By now I had clocked around 150kms from Korzok village and it was around 12 o clock. You can very well imagine how slow I was going; 150kms in approx 5 hours. I was taking frequent drinks break as it was very sunny and the sun was pricky. Took pics whenever I stopped.

Soon I was greeted with the tarmac road and I was delighted as it was 5 hours since I had been traveling on the bad roads. Now I could go smooth without hurting my forearms.

I said to myself enjoy this tarmac as long as it lasts :D and yes after some 30kms it again changed to dusty, bad roads. By now I had figured out that I am very near to Moore Plains as the kind of landscape I was seeing was very familiar. This was the third time I would be riding the area. I reached a bifurcation and again I was confused as I was previously in the day to go in which direction. I started going left and reached a construction sight and there were guys working there. I said to myself that I should better ask for the way than to wasted petrol by going in wrong direction and coming back. I asked them for Pang and they pointed in the opposite direction. Indeed I was going in the wrong direction towards Tanglang La(second highest pass in the world, close to 18000 ft). I turned back and continued ahead to reach Moore Plains. Took a pic:

As I was moving towards Pang and Baralacha la (third highest pass in the world, 16600ft) I was concerned about the weather as when I started my trip I had seen torrid weather conditions there.
Soon I crossed a group of bikers coming from Pang, I stopped them just to know about the route ahead. They told it cleared up from last two days and the weather isn't that bad but it snows intermittently. They asked me about Tanglang La but I told them I am coming from a different direction and didn't get to cross Tanglang La. Waved bye to them and I reached the checkpost of Pang. I parked my bike and asked a tent owner if I can buy petrol from somewhere. He told me I can buy petrol but it will be very expensive (100/- for 1 litre bottle) and won't be pure too. I got worried because I was still quite far away from the next petrol in the place called Tandi. Seeing my worried place the guy got very sentimental and he said to me that he will get you petrol but if his aunty knows that he gave me petrol it won't be good for him. He asked me to wait inside the checkpost and he'll bring the petrol. I went inside the checkpost, entered my details there and waited for the guy. After sometime the guy came with two bottles full till the brim. I asked him how much I have to give and he asked for 60/- per bottle but I gave him 150/- and thanked him a lot for his gesture.
This is what I like about the Ladakhi people, they are ready to help people even though if it needs to go out of their comfort level. I have high respect for them...

I went inside a tent and ordered some food. It was 1 o clock and I reached Pang in pretty good time. My next target was to Sarchu and stay there as I wasn't sure if I can make it to Baralacha and beyond.
As I was having lunch I was joined by a family traveling on a white sedan.

Had a nice little chat with them.

Also I met a guy who was the owner of the company which manufactures the saddle bags that I was using. Seeing the bags the guy approached me and asked how are the bags working out on the trip. I gave him the feedback. Incidentally the company is based out of Bangalore only and he invited me to come to his showroom and offered me to replace the rain cover that had got torn when I dropped my bags back on the way to Amritsar. He also gave me some stickers of his company. He took a pic of the bike with the bags on and I left from Pang.

I had just crossed the famous Kangla Jal water crossing and I was going slowly as there were huge slippery pebbles on the road. Suddenly my bike stalled and the rear tyre slipped and bang! I was on the road with my left leg caught underneath the bike. I couldn't lift the bike because of my leg. Fortunately there were a couple of Jeeps around and the drivers came running towards me to help me out. They lifted the bike and I could get me leg free. They told me to be careful, I thanked them. Couple of foreigners also came to my help and asked me if I was okay. I took this pic after that:


I was trying to figure the cause of my fall and I guessed probably it was because of the extra weight in the back due to the petrol I am carrying in my rucksack which caused the rear to slip. I poured the 5 litre can petrol in the tank and also shifted the weight to the tank bag and other bags.

Continued ahead to climb Nakeela, another high pass, I was accompanied by two jeeps carrying Irish tourist I guess. As I reached Lachlung La, tourist had also reached there and they were all happy, dancing, etc. 

I asked the driver of the jeep to take my photograph:
I was at leisure now since it's only till Sarchu I had ride and I had a lot of time. I'll let the pictures do the talking for some time now :D

Yours truly posing but that's not my bike parked behind me :D




Biking on the edge :D

Biking on the edge 2 :)

It was strange to see sunlight on one mountain and dense clouds on another.
Soon I reached the famous 21 Gata Loops, I saw the milestone and started descending down. But in the middle this thought in my mind that how much drop in altitude there is while crossing the Loops. Took a U-turn and went back up, clicked the pictures of the milestone mentioning the heights.




Spot the jeeps and riders on the right most curve of the loops :)

As it turned out it was a drop of 1522ft in altitude




Sarchu Tents from a distance and saw this magnificent display of setting Sun and its light

I reached Sarchu by 6PM and picked one of the tents. It was very very cold and windy there. Apparently Sarchu is the coldest place along the Manali-Leh Highway mostly due to the glacier that flows next to the place to stay.
The tent owner was a lady came out and asked me if I needed a stay. I said yes and the moment she heard that she hugged me with happiness. I was very moved by this and then figured out that since the weather hasn't been kind in the place, there are not many tourists that visiting and hence the business they are supposed to do in their summer season.
I opted to stay in that tent itself. I was shivering due to cold, apparently 3-4 layers of clothes were able to keep me warm. The lady asked me to sit near the kerosene burner on which she was preparing tea for me. She had two little kids with her with whom I started playing. I gave them the stickers that I got from the saddle bag company owner in Pang. The kids were happy and the younger stuck all the stickers at one place or the other in the tent, he even put one on his forehead :D
I was having fun with them and was talking to the lady about this year's weather and how the people staying there have suffered from lack of vegetable supply etc and how the kids aren't able to go to school due to rains and bad weather.
By 8PM she made me dinner, I had nice daal, rice, rotis, etc and then tried to sleep. But I wasn't able to sleep properly, I was shivering so much and it was all involuntary; I just couldn't stop shivering. It reminded of the night from the previous Leh trip when we had to spend the night in the scorpio near a water stream without a sleeping bag; read here.
Seeing that, the lady put one more big blanket over me which comforted me quite a lot and I was able to sleep. 
Next day I hadn't planned as to where to stop, I had thought if I could reach Keylong it would be nice. But of course before that I had to cross Baralacha La which was one of the two passes where the situation was dicey. But anyways I still had enough in hand so that I could reach Delhi in time for my flight.
Next day as usual planned to wake up early and start towards Keylong. BUT!!! It was so cold!!!(I would get to know how cold only later in the trip...)

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