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Day 10 Sarchu - Baralacha La - Keylong - Koksar - (Night halt in the middle of no where)

13th July 2010
Day 10 Sarchu - Baralacha La - Keylong - Koksar - (Night halt in the middle of no where)


I woke up at 6-6:30am and started preparing for the onward journey.  It was very very cold.
I came out of the tent and watched the mountains beyond which I needed to go via Baralacha La. I could a lot of clouds, though there was a bright sunshine where I was. The climate didn't look right from a distance.
But first you gotta do what you gotta do :D if you know what I am saying. I asked the tent lady about the toilets whether there is any around. She said there isn't any and I will have to find a spot in the mountains or ridges in the mountains :D. So be it. Won't go into those details now but that was another first for me :p


One thing that I forgot to tell about the last day was that when I fell down near Kangla Jal, for some reason the bike's speedometer stopped working. It was as if half connected because sometimes it would show some speed reading and sometimes it will be dead. Funny it was because I had crossed such bad terrain in past couple of days the cable held itself all the while and when it was rather less rocky road it gave away :)
When it stopped the reading on the meter was 2120kms. And I still had around 800kms to travel till Delhi. So it will be well close to 3000kms for the whole trip.


I realized that I had forgotten my tooth brush in Korzok village itself. Fortunately the tent lady had toothbrushes and other stuff for sale. Bought one from her. While brushing I noticed that the two kids had also woken up and the little one was still playing with the stickers I gave him. I thought I should give the elder one also something. I had bought a keyring and a cap from the Tololing War memorial in Drass and decided to give away any of things the kid liked. The kid picked up the keyring and he was very happy :)


I asked the kids to pose for me for the camera they happily did, Check out the photo. This photo for me is the best ever that I have ever clicked. If I have to pick the best one among the one's I clicked in the trip, THIS would be it.




Another one with yours truly in the frame :)

Showed it to the kids and their aunt, they were very happy.

While I was playing with the kids I saw the other riders (Rajan and Parag), whom I met earlier in the trip, riding past me. I waved at them and they continued. 


Soon after I also packed my bags, removed the bike cover and took out the bike and tried firing it up. The battery had discharged a lot and hence wasn't taking the load of the starter motor. I remembered the scene from Angels Demons when the french lady seeing the battery in the bomb says "It is very cold isn't it. Cold temperatures make the battery discharge fast." This was probably the case with my bike's battery too. I pushed the bike a little uphill so that I can push start the bike  but it didn't start. I tried a couple of times, all in vain. I thought I'll let it be under the sun and then try again after sometime. By that time I'll settle the bill with the tent lady. She had prepared tea and breakfast for me. I had breakfast and asked her how much, she calculated and said 250/- I took out the 500 rupees note and handed over to her and told her to keep it. I was sad that climate hasn't been favorable because of which not many tourist had come and not much of business for them. It was apparent from the fact that I was the only one who had spent the night in the tent which can hold at least 20 (or more) people. The lady was so happy and she again hugged me :) I was also happy after all she took care of me so nicely.


I said goodbye to the kids and the tent lady and again tried cranking up my bike, it didn't start but showed signs of coming to life. In a couple of more cranks the engine started and a big relief for me. 


I started my journey towards Keylong, jispa but I didn't have any plans where exactly I will stop for this day. For once I thought if time permits I will cross Rohtang pass and stop in Manali but that all depends upon condition at Rohtang. All this while I wasn't hearing good things about it. Anyways I had come this far and this was the only way to reach Delhi now.
I still had 4 days to reach Delhi, pack my bike for Bangalore and catch my flight on 18th. I wasn't too much worried even if I lose one day here and there.
I went slowly enjoying the view around clicking pics as and when I liked (perqs of touring alone :D)




As I started ascending for Baralacha La the view plus the climate changed quickly. As it is evident from the above picture it started becoming whiter and whiter :). It was snowing lightly it too magical to be true. That's the beauty of the mountains. I'll let the pictures do the talking for sometime now. It was just unbelievable, magical...












Baralacha La top






I thought it was all solid rock :D My foot went right in
As I said it became whiter and whiter and whiter :D









I reached the semi frozen Sooraj Taal. A lot of tourist were there staring at the beautiful landscape. Most of them were foreigners.  I went a little ahead of the lake and parked my bike as I noticed a lot of rocks lying on the road itself which meant there was a possibility of landslide in that area. Obviously because of the semi solid snow covering the lose rock which can come down the mountain anytime. The tourists were walking on the road along the lake but their drivers were asking them to come back inside the vehicle, the drivers were also worried because of the landslides.

I thought it was worth taking a risk and enjoying the fabulous sight, taking a picture or two...



Asked a gentle man to click my picture :)
Started descending down and I was greeted by couple of water crossings one of which was really scary. Fortunately I didn't lose balance while crossing those and came out dry :D except for my shoes and socks.
This is where I crossed the BCMTian on a Karizma whom I asked before crossing how deep the water stream was.

I reached the final few turns before the place called ZingZing bar and was stopped by a bulldozer cleaning up the road. Had to wait for half an hour for the road to be cleared up. I took out my shoes and socks and put it on the bike so that it dries up otherwise it is such a bad feeling wearing a wet sock inside a cold shoe :p




The tents of zingzing bar were visible from this point

I passed through this rock lying dangerously on the road. Good that this fell down when no vehicle was passing by...



Soon enough the climate opened up and landscape also changed to greener from being white.



The clouds were still covering the peaks near Baralacha La





Stopped in Zingzing bar tent. I thought of having some food as well as asking about the road ahead. Now that I had crossed Baralacha La, my next concern was the last peak that stood ahead (which was probably the most dicey of all). The guy prepared omelette and tea. I asked him about the route he didn't tell me much as he was a resident of Keylong only hence didn't know about the route further from Keylong. I chatted with him showed him the photographs I took on the trip. He was amazed with the beauty of the mountains. He said to me it is the tourists who enjoy the mountains more than the people residing there. He told that he has never gone past Baralacha La in any recent past. I said yeah that is true and gave my example that though I stayed in my hometown for so long but I never visited the National park (Kanha National Park) very near to my city.....I said goodbye to him and continued ahead. 







Soon I reached lake called Deepak Taal where last time Prabhu took a dip in the icy water :)
I met BCMT members here. They were coming from Rohtang side and told that condition isn't that great. There were several landslides along the way which might delay my travel. They asked me to be careful while going through Rohtang as it is full of slush.
I told them that I had taken a different route from Kargil to Leh and strongly recommended to take that route, which they did :) I hope they enjoyed it.



I asked them to click a picture of mine with my bike





I could see the route I had to go on.


As the BCMT guys told I crossed several water streams some of which were very deep and slippery but fortunately I crossed them successfully.


The vistas are amazing when you descend down to Jispa towards Keylong.




I reached Keylong and I had used up all the extra petrol I was carrying all along the trip. I filled up two litres of petrol in Tandi (the first petrol bunk since Leh). The petrol bunk guys didn't give me more petrol as there was no supply of fuel due to bad weather and landslides happening around.
As I was passing the hotel in which we had stayed in last trip. I saw a lot of bikes parked there, I figured that they have freshly come from Rohtang and stopped for lunch. I would get a better idea if talk to the guys. While having lunch and listening to their conversation about how they crossed Rohtang I got a little concerned. They were saying one would need two people to get his bike out of the mud on the road and there was continuous debris coming down from the top which would sweep a rider while crossing the slushy areas. I asked them how was it for them and they told it is better to stay in Keylong because the landslides are happening and if at all I get stuck near Rohtang I won't be able to stay anywhere near and I will have to come back to Keylong itself which means waste of fuel doing the to and fro.
I wasn't convinced about the condition as one cannot get sure of how bad the situation is through somebody else's views. Everyone gauges a situation differently, hence I decided to go there and see the situation myself and decide what to do.



Unfortunately yet again I was too focussed to go beyond the point of trouble that I didn't click any pictures what so ever. I would have to suffice with my narration as much as possible :)



Himachal Pradesh had the most rainfall due to climate change and roads were inundated with water every now and then. I had stop several times because of the cleaning process  of the roads. Some patches didn't have any road at all and was full of slush. Somehow I reached the bottom of Rohtang which is koksar village. Stopped there and had tea and asked people about the condition. They told that situation is bad and no vehicle is able to cross Rohtang, all the 4-wheeled vehicles were coming back from the top.
Now that I have reached till this far I decided to go to the last place I could go and see how bad is it. I started climbing rohtang and indeed it was bad. The slush was too much and as high as my knees. Every now and then the bike's rear will start slipping and it will dig deep in the mud  and I will have to push the bike with my legs. It was exhausting and also too harsh for the clutch plates. But I never gave up, falling down would have meant it will be impossible for me alone to pick up the bike in that slippery surface. It was probably harder than it was when I was climbing Khardung La.


I was just praying to god that I don't have to come back this way because it would be much harder to come down than to go up. Eventually I reached the top and noticed no vehicle except for some qualis jeeps were coming back. I asked them how is it and they just said there is no way I can go to the other side. I started descending from the top and reached the point where there are all the tents and shops for tourists. Suddenly a familiar face came out of a shop and waved at me. That was one of the two riders whom I have been meeting frequently through the entire trip i.e. Rajan. I stopped near him and asked what happened. He said that we might have to spend the night somewhere on this pass itself because there is a huge landslide a kilometer ahead of the tents which has taken out an oil tanker too.
I met some other bikers there, two of them were from chandigarh (Jai and Nirmaan) who came via Spiti and other group had come from Bangalore itself.  They told me that there are tonnes of vehicles that are stuck there from last three days and there is no way we can cross it tonight. It does not look good at all. 
Now that it was decided that I'll have to spend the night on the top itself I decided to join them. That was the only shop that was functional at that time. It had started drizzling (as usual in Rohtang) and was very misty out there as well as cold. We asked the tent guy if there is any place available for night he said all the tent owners have abandoned the place but he can make some arrangements. He spoke to the horse guys if there is any place and they said they can provide a place where they themselves spend the night with the horses. The shop guy told us it wouldn't clean or good but that is the only thing available; we had no other choice. The shop guy prepared dinner for all of us and the guys were telling that they also stayed in Sarchu last night and one of the guys had a thermometer. It was -2 degrees that night and no wonder I was shivering like anything.
Talking to the guys I really hit off with the two Chandigarh guys and it felt good spending time with them. Sometimes in harsh conditions you do build good friendships :)
After having dinner we (Parag, Rajan and I) moved to the place where we were supposed to sleep. It was very very small, very smelly, very damp, even the blankets were dampened but at least it was better than sleeping directly under the sky. The night also must be close to zero degrees. But this cold was very different than the cold in Sarchu. It was very cold plus it was damp with the light drizzle.
Spending night in that tent was certainly not at all a comfortable experience but nonetheless it was something an experience to be felt only in Himalayas :)
I had a hard time sleeping in the tent, it was very cold and I didn't take off my riding jacket. I said a little prayer wishing for the land slide to clear up and slept.
So this is how my day 10 ended up spending night on a high pass. Never expected it but I am happy that I got experience something like this once in my lifetime though I wouldn't like this to happen again :D
Visit my flickr album for better quality pics (selected ones):  http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumitplall/
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