Ladakh – Part Seven

… After Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6

4th June 2015, – Day Six

Chang La, A Fall and the Lake

All body-pains are gone now – Leh’s weather is so magnificent. I woke up early. Deposited all extra luggage in the GH store room, and tied the Viaterra Claw at the back seat. My petrol jerry can is tied in Sumit’s carrier. We’ll fill up our bike tanks and the cans and then start for Pangong.

We all started at 7:15 am. Two Bullets, one Avenger and one Pulsar. The route is pretty simple, it goes through Karu, Sakti, Chang La, Durbuk, Tang Tse and finally at Lukung the lake starts. And the route to Marisimik La goes via Phobrang village, slightly before the Lukung village.

We assembled at the main petrol filling station at Leh. Filled up tanks and cans one-by-one, we were about to start, suddenly we heard Vineet’s scream – Oh God! My jerry can! There’s a hole in it!!

We looked back to discover that indeed his 10 litre petrol can has developed a crack somewhere, petrol was leaking out, the concrete ground had been wet in leaked petrol. How to fix this?

Gurdeep took a wide cello-tape out from his luggage. And a tube of glue – the glue which is used to fix punctures at tubes of bi-cycle. We tried to close the crack with these, but it was not effective much. The glue was meant for rubber, how polythene could respond to it! Still we continued our effort. Somehow we were able to control the leakage with help of the cello-tape and the glue. Finally we wrapped the can in a plastic bag and finally started at 8:30 am.

Cruised through the smooth silky road to Karu. Sometime boulevards, sometime barren flat lands wished us a happy journey. We crossed Shay Palace, Thikshey Monastery, without stopping. We’d show them while returning – in fact I had seen all in 2012.

Reached Karu at 9:30 am. The huge board in front of us was showing: Pangong Lake, 113 kilometre.

We settled at the Druk restaurant just beyond the board, for breakfast. Need to fuel ourselves.

The road bifurcates in front of the restaurant. The right one goes to Manali via Upshi, Sarchu, and Pang. We would take the left one, for Pangong.

We were having bread-butter and Alu-paraatha, suddenly we heard someone saying outside, “Somebody’s petrol can is leaking. Please come and check.” We rushed out, and yes, Vineet’s can was still leaking. He must have wasted one litre of precious fuel by that time. We arranged for three empty water bottles of 1 litre, took out 3 litres of petrol, but still 6 litre more remained in the can. We decided to fill up our tanks again – we had already covered 40 kilometres each, so there would be space for one litre in each motorcycle. At least 4 litres can be utilized.

Sumit collected few Biscuit cartons to guard their own cans, so that they don’t get punctured by hitting the iron guard. My jerry can was also with him, he guarded that too.

So finally we started again, few metres away there was a J&K police sitting, we had to submit our details to him in a form, and then we proceeded – crossed Sakti in no time, then we reached Zingral. The same Army Camp where I had breakfast last time, we gave a brief stop there.

Snow laden peaks were clearly visible now. They looked like some peaks where somebody has splashed a big packet full of salt from the top. The army man at Zingral assured us that Chang La was just 10 kilometres away, but we had to stop after couple of kilometres. There was a long queue of vehicles, all stuck up. Landslide. BRO was in action, the road was being cleared.

Two wheelers never get stuck behind four wheelers. We utilized the thin space beside the queue to reach at the beginning of it, we had a clear vision of BRO guys clearing the road. After half-an-hour the work was over, and the road was opened. We started cruising. First average road, then some broken road, then some bad road, then some extreme bad road, then no-road, and stunning breath-taking views all around, we were cruising. Bullets and Avenger were strong enough, they advanced with ease, I was feeling not so easy in ascending with my bike, every now and then the ignition was stopping, and I was having to start it again and again. I was going on first and second gear, still I was feeling that the Pulsar was having a bit hard time.

It happens in high altitude, quite a natural thing. A vehicle needs some amount of oxygen for ignition, even that much oxygen is not available over there.

The bullets and Avenger were nowhere in sight, I was going slowly. There was no road, only gravels and pebbles, sometime crossed some water streams, and finally after a turn Chang La top was visible in front of me. The same view, the same write-up – Welcome to the Mighty Chang La. Finally, I could make my dreams true.

The lovebirds:

View from Chang La:

And this is my selfie. Don’t get scared, I am not a terrorist.

Chang La top was looking like a fair ground. Lot of vehicles, lot of tourists, mostly Bengalis and Gujaratis; some of them approached us, Dada, apnar gaarite chepe ekta pose debo? Can I take a photo posing in front of your bike?

After everything was addressed, we started again in 15 minutes. Staying at this high altitude for longer time is dangerous. Plus the weather was also not very much cooperative, all cloudy, and there was light snowfall started.

We started descending.

After crossing the snow-line we stopped again. I put on my rain gear. Today the new -20 gloves was making my hands indeed comfortable, no freezing effect anymore. And my Pulsar was again back in its business. It was having trouble in ascending, but while descending I easily overtook others. After around 20 kilometres, I realized that Sumit, Gurdeep and lovebirds are not at all visible behind. How far they are lagging?

Spotted a small tented makeshift restaurant after few more kilometres, I made a stop there. A tempo traveller was parked at the side and a giant Gujarati family were having their snacks there – I just could hear sounds like “gaari ma au chhu, photo liu chhu” etc.

I waited there for twenty long minutes. Still no one was visible. Some more bikes and four wheelers crossed me, but no sign of my team. What happened to them?

There’s no network – no way to call them; I could only wait. I was feeling tensed. Should I wait? Or should I ride back to find them out? I was just 22 kilometers away from the Chang La top. Has anyone of them met with any accident?

After half an hour finally I spotted three familiar dots at the faraway visible road, they grew larger and yes, they were indeed Sumit, Gurdeep, Vineet and Preeti. … What happened? Why so late?

Vineet explained, not only Vineet’s can, even my jerry can was cracked, and petrol was leaking. So they had to stop and pour the remaining petrol in everybody’s bike tanker. Hence the delay.

Bad luck. Fifteen litres of can were wasted in the first lap. Hope we would not have problem in returning – there’s no petrol pump ahead. Some more petrol was left, I poured it into my bike. And then we entered the restaurant, it was 2 o’clock. We all were hungry.

Started again at 2:30. We started together.

There’s another check post at Tang Tse. We submitted another similar form there too. There the hill ends, and the flat land begins. Last time we saw marmots here. But this time we were not lucky enough, didn’t see a single marmot. But saw plenty of wild horses.

And after few minutes we reached to the point – “First View of Pangong Lake”. We stopped nearby, took some rest and did some photo session.

Preeti borrowed my blue sunglass and posed on my bike.

Can Vineet be far behind?

Finally we started. Pangong was just five km away.

There was a dried riverbed, a beautiful small bridge on that, we crossed the river through the bridge. But then I found sands from the riverbed had filled the entire road here and there. Riding over the sand is extremely risky. So I rode slowly. But the layer of sand was not much deep, so there was no problem in riding.

The confidence killed me. There was another layer of sand, and I thought it was also not much deep – without reducing speed I went on that and my bike lost control, I fell down on the left side. No, I was not hurt much but my right leg was trapped under the bike, it was not possible for me to push up the bike on that condition.

I waited for one and half minute until others arrived. They pushed up my bike, I stood up. No injury, no pain, but I noticed the knee guard on my left knee had been cracked into two halves. That guard saved my knee, otherwise my journey would have been ended there.

The bike was also unhurt, it started in first attempt. So we started again, after few kilometers I realized that I faced one more loss, the lens cap of my camera was missing.

And then we reached Pangong Lake, i.e. Lukung. Booked a tent for Rs.1000 including dinner and breakfast for two persons.

But there was no colour in the lake. Because the sky was cloudy. We saw its beautiful blue colour last time that was totally missing this year. The water looked like, plain water.

Our tent.

A panorama –

And, before sunset, the final shot of Pangong.

And then the cold wind started. It was so cosy inside the tent, but w=outside it was chilling cold. We had tea twice, but could not beat the cold. I was trying to capture the moonlit lake – but my hands were not under my control.

Finally we had our dinner at 9:00 pm. And then a good sleep after having one dose of Diamox. Next day we need to start early for Marisimik La.

I had no more pain in my body.


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