Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bike Tour – Pangong Lake (Day 8 & 9)

On are arrival at Leh we had learnt that there was huge landslide on the way to Pangong Lake and thousands of tourists were rescued by Army. Assuming that situation would get normalized in few days we had kept our Pangong Ride towards the end of the trip. Thank fully as per our intuition, the situation had normalized by 9th day of our trip and we were all set to ride to Pangong Lake.

Unlike our initial days of trip, now we had luxury to start the day little late as the roads were good and huge water streams were just a story now. With lesser luggage, the ride felt great until we started riding steep uphill towards Chang La, world’s third highest motorable pass. Keeping in mind that during 2011 bike trip, we were not able to go to Pangong Lake due to time constraint, I was much more excited to cross Chang La again and witness the divine beauty of Pangong Lake.

Once we crossed the first check post, the bike started losing its power due to low oxygen. Couple of miles ahead and we had severe problem in pulling our 500 CC machines on steep uphill ride. The road to Chang La has its unique daunting curves with roads full of rocks unevenly spread on steep uphill drive. Bikers with lesser CCs in hand were struggling badly and stopping under loosely hanging rocks was not at all choice for anyone. Speed and balance was to be maintained very carefully throughout.

While we were slowly nearing Chang La and Snow Capped peaks were indicating the drizzling coming down, we found caught ourselves in the middle of huge trucker’s caravan moving uphill. At the same time beginning of some of the uneven surfaced water streams added spice to the entire story. Now it was either a truck creating hurdle in our efforts or a water stream. On the other side, the weather was turning cold with every move.

By the time we reached Chang La, we had crossed almost 50 trucks. The sad part was that we had to stop at Chang La and by the time we would resume our ride, these trucks again will be driving downhill on the other side of Chang La downhill waiting for us to repeat the same effort. But there was no question that we would not stop at Chang La.

Ignoring all this, we really felt proud to be at World’s Third highest motorable pass. The surrounding peaks of pass were all covered under thick snow and overcastted weather was clear indication of drizzling any time.

Once we resumed our ride, the other side of the pass was full of snow and roads were completely under water. The truckers had disappeared and we could not see them anywhere. Now we were eagerly looking for the recent landslide spot. In some time we had to stop in the middle of now where as there was road repair work was on. The road from both side was full of vehicles. And later we realized that this was the very same place where couple of days back there was huge landslide.

Ride after this break was extremely smooth and enjoyable. The landscapes of this corner of Ladakh always fascinated me. On the way, stopped at couple of places to relax, to eat and for photography.

In the later part of the ride, we reached a place where in a board was put in to indicate the first glimpse of Pangong Lake. This is where my excitement increased manifold. The blue color of lake always attracted me.

Finally, we reached at the beginning of the lake. The water was calm and blue color was shining under clear sky. With handful of tourists in the area, the solace can be felt despite of the thump of the bullet. There were many camp sites close to the lake but we were looking for the best, and we knew that to get the best we need to ride further.  Our destination was village Spangmik. A small village situated at the bank of Pangong Lake is the only best option to stay.

We chose a camp site which was exactly in front of the lake and we opted for a lake facing tent for the night. The hospitality of people here was extremely impressive and we had superbly delicious lunch followed by a coffee under open sky.

After some relaxation time post lunch, we were all over the lake. The place always seemed like a house of god. The water is unbelievably blue and calm. The evening darkness made me realize that the day has come to an end.

Day 10, we had to ride back to Leh and we were nearing towards the end of the mega trip. This brought a sadness in me. But we had no choice than to come back to the reality.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bike Tour – Tso mori ri (Day 7& 8)

Seventh day we were heading towards the corner which was new to route for me, Tso Mori ri. We had heard a lot about easy track from Leh to Tso mori ri. The road was supposed to be smooth, no high altitude passes, no water streams and no off roading. Keeping all these things in mind we started from leh around 9:00 AM.

To reach Tso Mori ri, we had to head back on Manali Highway until 50 KMs when we had to divert on different direction at Upshi.

The day was sunny and I was feeling the heat to some extent. Untill Upshi we were surrounded by various bikers and vehicles cruising both sides.

As we took diversion from Upshi, the silence of Ladakh deserts took over. There were no vehicles, no man and no life. By seventh day, I was little bored with overflowing silence at most of the places, so did not like the track much. Over and above it, the sun had started bothering me a lot.
Landslide and road construction at one place wasted our half an hour under harsh sun where we saw some people on cabs travelling to/fro Tso mori ri.

The ride was mostly down hill until first 150 kilometres with all kind of curves and terrains. Every turn to the other side of the valley was bringing new mystery of Ladakh deserts and beauty.

Kiari was our first stop of the ride where Military runs a cafeteria named “INDUS CAFETERIA” at an altitude of 13,500 feet.

Soon after we resumed the ride, we reached at one bridge where some water was overflowing onto the road. The continuous flowing water had made the road very rough with some big rocks lying oddly here and there. This was the first fall of my ride wherein I could not balance my bike on one of the rock under front wheel. I tried a lot to balance it but it had to fall gently. Due to low oxygen I could not lift the bike easily and had to struggle a lot as Anand was quite ahead of me. Well this brought some excitement in the day.

Seventh day was only kept for riding and it was feeling little boring quite often. After my fall, we rode continuously for 01:30 hours as there was nothing much interesting to stop. We stopped at village named “Sumdo” wherein an uphill ride again started towards a small pass. Some bikers riding down from the other side brought some signs of life here.

After seeing some bikers and vehicles, an excitement to ride added some energy in me. Hoping that we will stop at the Pass to capture some serene views of Himalayas I pulled the bike hard. However, we did not even realise when we crossed the pass, It happened due to lack of high altitude of this pass.

The pleasant surprise was the view from few kilometre away from Pass. The green water lake was all in front of us. I was wondering as how come the water of Tso mori ri, which is supposed to be blue, has become green. As we moved further towards the lake, the suspense increased. Later we realised that its not Tso mori ri because we were still 30 kilometer behind our destination of the day.

The green water lake was really an amazing gift of nature for tired riders. We relaxed for sometime and opened the map. There we came to know that the amazing green water in front of us is known as Thadsang Lake. Surrounded closely by mountains from all sides, this small lake is an amazing place for camping.
The last 30 kilometers were terribly off road and some of the places were extremely confusing in terms of which direction to go.

As we were nearing our final destination Korzok Village, we got to see the glimpses of Tso mori ri. The lake was widely spread wherever one could see. The calm blue water was real soothing gel for soul. Riding along the lake made me forget the rough roads which we were witnessing for last 30 kilometre.

The view of village Korzok on the bank of lake and numerous camping sites set the whole aura of beautiful life here.

After scouting at few places for shelter, finally we got an amazing camp site near lake. We offloaded our luggage and biking gears immediately, took some refreshment, relaxed for a while. The absence of thump of bullets was making me feel the saturation of extreme silence here.

The time had come to explore the place. We headed towards lake when we had huge argument on our balance days plan. Finally it ended by the time we reached close to the lake.
The amazing beauty of lake was breathtaking. The sunset made the time extremely divine. With handful of people around, the solace made me feel my presence all over. I was roaming on the bank of the lake until darkness had hit the ground.

Such places makes one feel the true meaning of life, which is simplicity. Away from hassles and worries of city life, this place does not feel anything less than a true heaven on earth.

Day 8th ride was to head back from Tso Mori ri lake to Leh. It did not bring anything new than what we had experienced previous day except the fact that Thadsang Lake where we had seen it completely green had turned blue.


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