Ladakh Road Trip -2013 – Day 15-16

Hangout near Pangong-Tso

Day 15, 26th June, 2013

We woke up to the morning sun. We had planned to chill out near the Pangong lake. We had our breakfast and walked out to go to the lake. After a few minutes walk, Rajesh, Kinjal and I arrived at the bank of the lake. Avinash and Maithili had disappeared somewhere while walking with us. The spot where we arrived had a nice green pasture. I sat on a big rock and observed the clear water. The lake bottom was visible through the water. Water was so clear that we could make out the presence of the water only due to refraction of the pebbles lying at the bottom of the lake and due to the reflection of the sun. The refracting pebbles beneath the water were creating an illusion as if all the pebbles were dancing in harmony with each passing wave. And each wave crashing on the bank of the lake before me seemed like it was reaching out to me. I sat there listening to the silence of the lake. This was the loudest silence I have ever heard. I’m calling it louder silence because it was making my inner voice sound loud. The conversation between me and my inner-self is my personal business therefore I’m switching to the next paragraph. Please don’t mind ;-).

Kinjal removed her shoes and stepped into the water. “Aaaawwww.. the water is damn cold”, she screamed. After a while Rajesh and I stepped into the water and stood there longer than Kinjal did, like it was a competition between men and women about who can stand longer in the chilling water.

We must have spent two hours before we decided to go back to our rooms. Avinash and Maithili returned an hour later. We had lunch and took a small nap.

In the evening Avinash-Maithili and I went to the lake at the same spot where I was in the morning, while Rajesh and Kinjal went to make a phone call back at home. They must have spoken on the call for a long time as when we were going back to our rooms we met them halfway. We had dinner and then went to sleep.  

Back to Leh

Today we were to return to Leh. I was a little tensed with the idea of crossing the Chang-La again. Chang-La had become a mighty monster for me. I looked up in the sky. It was cloudy and the sky was grey. Clouds blocked the sun rays. This wasn’t a good sign. I looked at the distant mountain ranges in the direction of the Chang-La pass and recalled the ‘Eye of Sauron” from the movie “Lord Of The Rings”. You can guess how terrified I was by Chang-La. If snowfall starts, the situation could get ugly up there on the pass. It was 7 am. One by one we all started our bikes. We had to get our bikes warmed up before the tough ride we were about to go through. Once again Rajesh’s bike refused to start. Rajesh made several attempts but all in vain. Instead of the bike, Rajesh got all warmed up. He removed the riding jacket that he was wearing. He tried again but without any success. I also tried my luck on his bike but the bike showed no mercy. Then it was Avinash’s turn. He put in more efforts than Rajesh and I did collectively. Finally the bike started and a smile appeared on our faces. We all made loud cheers and started the ride. About 20 kms before the pass, Rajesh’s bike threw a last puff of smoke and stopped. It refused to climb on inclined roads even on the first gear. He realized that his bike won’t be able to cross the mighty Chang-La. We waited for help and it arrived soon. A utility vehicle was passing by. We waved at the driver and he stopped. We told him about our misery and he agreed to carry Rajesh’s bike till Karu. Rajesh, Kinjal and Rajesh’s angel i.e. his bike, all took their positions in the utility vehicle. The vehicle made its move and disappeared on the curvy roads going towards the mountains. Now it was only me, Avinash and Maithili who were to face the Eye Of Sauron.

We crossed the Chang-La successfully except at one point where my bike got stuck in a water stream. It was stuck between huge rocks in the stream which was difficult for my bike to run over. I must have tried continuously for three minutes at the same spot to get my bike out of there. My shoes were all filled up with bone chilling cold water. I put my both feet down on the ground and gave a powerful push to my bike and revved up the throttle and finally I was free from the clutches of the rocks. Avinash had gone ahead and was not visible to me on the road ahead. Finally when I reached Chang-La snowfall started. Due to cloudy weather the sunlight was low. Poor sunlight and snowfall made Chang-La’s appearance scary. But I made it to the top. While descending down I met Avinash-Maithili. We were very hungry. When we reached Zingral army base camp, we stopped there. One army soldier came towards us and started a conversation with Avinash. Avinash told him that we were very hungry. The soldier asked Avinash if we’d like to have some biscuits. We were so hungry that any food was welcome. We were expecting only a packet but the soldier gave us two. They were 2 big packs of Bourbon biscuits. We told him that only one pack is good enough for us and gave another back to him. But he refused to take it back saying “I have given it to you, now I can not take it back”. We were so happy to meet so many caring people on our journey. We had a good chat with this soldier. He told us about various rescue operations performed on the same pass, about the hardships and difficult lives of soldiers at Siachen Glaciers. He even told us about his native place and how he got into Indian Army. With a proud feeling for Indian army, we bid goodbye to him and left from there. The biscuits brought good warmth in our body.

We reached Karu and tried looking for Rajesh and Kinjal. We couldn’t spot them there so we decided to wait for them in our hotel in Leh. When we reached Leh in the afternoon, we spotted Rajesh at Mohan Sharma’s garage. We advised him to come to the hotel, have lunch and come back to the mechanic in the evening. He agreed, he must have been very hungry too. We dumped our luggage in our hotel and ran to YoYo’s place, which had become our favorite open terrace restaurant in Leh. We ordered dishes after dishes and finished it within minutes once they were served. I had decided to feast myself with non-veg food after a long time. Even the owner of the restaurant was looking at us with awe.

In the evening Rajesh got his bike checked up from Mohan Sharma. The mechanic told him that his engine has grown weak and won’t be able to cross any high passes. Rajesh came back to the hotel with a sad face. We advised him to hire a bullet for our Khardung-La and Nubra Valley expedition. But he was adamant on travelling on his bike. Now it was his decision. He had to decide how he wanted to continue his journey.  

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