Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Spiti'ness - II

After living on freebees for 2 days, I finally spent some precious paper buying petrol. The lady who sold me the gas was not the typical person you'll find at a fuel station. I had to walk thro' heaps of snow left unploughed to get to the shop. She told me that this village was called "Chango" and I was in the Chango valley. Then, She went on talking about the apples that grow here & other valleys near by where the "Golden" apple grows..The Ribba and Namgiya valleys..and so on.. She then handed me some dried apples. They were yellow in colour .. and she was not kidding about the golden apples.

The only golden apple I know is The golden apple that appears folk legends or fairy tales.

After fuel, I had a small bite and was on my way. The road ahead was deserted, gnarly and absolutely no one around. Not even the Army. Sumdo is the last place till you'll find Army activity. After Sumdo all the way to Tabo, there was no living person that I could spot. It was inhospitably cold and impossible to ride. I was lurking slowly at speeds below 25kmph. I took lots of breaks, played around with the GoPro I was carrying, and little later learnt some lessons about how batteries and cold weather dont get along well. The temperature gauge was varying between 5 Deg C and minus 5 Deg 5 through the day.It was not fun being open to the elements. I had to pile up on the layers of clothes to ensure I didn't die. When I reached Tabo for lunch, I was wearing 4 layers jackets, 3 layers of trousers and 2 layers of gloves.

Tabo was empty. The few monks who were in town looked at me with disbelief that I had come there...and for a holiday. They were very curious to know when the bus route from Peo will been open for larger vehicles. They were also hell bent on not letting me go further to Kaza as the road was yet to be cleared and as of now "Closed" .. I had a good laugh talking to a couple of them, and explained how my bike can actually "make it", even though the road was closed. Later that day, after some more conversations, I got going and to my own surprise, I realised that the so called road that was NOT open looks like this...

The road blocks were everywhere .. You just ride past time

She was the only person I saw, No kidding..

Believe it or not, I rode through this rock pile, 1 inch at a time.. 

Tipping point
I rode through treacherous rocks, shooting stones, slush, black ice and heaps of uncleared snow. I Dropped the bike a bunch of times. After about an hour and a half, I had travelled 7 kms. I was tired, wet, cold and annoyed, Mostly because anything and everything lead to the state of breathlessness, Even resting... This is not what I signed out for. The hardest thing was to entertain myself to keep going as the conditions around were neither motivating nor inspiring...Except, what I saw..What I saw and continued to see was a treasure we have in India. Deep down inside, I was happy that I had made it back to Spiti. The tipping point was when I reached this particular stretch, when a huge boulder the size of my helmet rolled down hit my front wheel. I stopped right there and looked back. Till that moment, the scariest thing that ever happened to me in life was watching the movie "Ring" late at night and taking a stroll back home. This easily beat that by a huge margin and I didn't make it to kaza that day.

Empty houses everywhere !

More terrible terrain on my way back

I took a prudent decision to go back to Tabo, enduring the same things I had just waded thro'. To add to the horror, there were more rocks on the roads on my way back. However, I ran into a bunch of locals a little ahead, who were clearing the rock piles for bigger vehicles to cross. They were waiting for the cavalry to arrive with appropriate equipment and said that I could try the road to Kaza again tomorrow . Delighted, I rode back to have a mini education session on how concrete houses are terrible in extreme cold, and unpacked and packed 2 times before finding a mud house to stay that night. Well, I was back to living on freebees .. I cant complain ...

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