The bike stood there on the dry lake in the scorching sun. Around the bike were circles of tyre tracks from some motorbike enthusiast. Taking a photo of the scene every 5 seconds was the GoPro. Finally shade came, I packed up, left, and it started to hail.

Salt lake

Salt lake

Today was hot with a tailwind – except when it was hailing or raining with a strong headwind. The weather can change at the drop of a hat on these high altitude plains, and it did, numerous times.

This morning I climbed out of the canyon that Pang finds itself in, to be met with an amazing view of both the canyon and the beautiful More Plains.

Above Pang

Above Pang

Above Pang

Above Pang

Rolling along, I took many photos as I watched wild horses roaming in the distance.

More Plains

More Plains

More Plains

More Plains

My intention was to stay at Tso Kar lake, which was a 17km detour from the main road.

Towards Two Kar

Towards Two Kar

I never really found the lake. There were mounds of grass, and hillocks of sand, but no big expanse on water.

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

There were, however, 2 German cyclists who are cycling from the other direction. We spent most of the evening together, exchanging stories.


Today I woke fresh and well. I cycled up the Gata Loops (21 hairpin bends) and over the Nakeela Pass. The top of the next pass was in view. It was early and so I pushed on. My first 5000+m pass and oodles of amazing views.

The view down from Lachung La

The view down from Lachung La

My theory about my sickness yesterday is that my water filter contains evil bacteria. I ate almost nothing and what I did eat went straight through me. My body couldn’t get any protein to make new haemoglobin, hence the new round of altitude sickness. I’m now well fed, and free of gastro, and no headache at all. All ready to attack the double pass of Nakeela and Lachung La.

The road followed the river, with one stunning view being replaced by the next around every corner.

Leaving Sarchu

Leaving Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

The Gata Loops at the start of the Nakeela Pass saw a few traffic jams as the road is only wide enough for one car.

Climbing the Gata Loops

Climbing the Gata Loops

Finally I passed the Nakeela Pass, only to see the pitiful Whisky Nalah straddling a dry creek bed just below.

Nakeela La

Nakeela La

The disappointment of Whiskey Nala with Lachung La in the background

The disappointment of Whiskey Nala with Lachung La in the background

I couldn’t stay here, and there was time, so I climbed the Lachung La and descended an extremely beautiful but bumpy road into Pang.

Lachung La

Lachung La

View down from Lachung La

View down from Lachung La

Towards Pang

Towards Pang

Towards Pang

Towards Pang

Day 15. Sarchu (4289m)

Posted: August 4, 2018 in Cycling, India
Tags: , ,

Today was a rest day. First the problem was diahorrea. Some rehydration salts helped a bit. Later in the day I developed a headache. It was really worth staying put today.

Sarchu

Sarchu

I am surprised about the headache. I’ve been at this altitude for days. Anyway, I’ll reevaluate things tomorrow.


This evening I finally took the antibiotics. I feel very weak and have diahorrea. Still, I made it over a 4850m pass. I think a rest day may be on the cards tomorrow.

Baralacha Pass

Baralacha Pass

I slept badly last night. I just couldn’t get warm. I also couldn’t bring myself to eat much. This all lead to a snail-paced crawl up the mountain.

It was beautiful climbing into snowy regions. There was a beautiful mountain lake near the top and amazing views at every turn.

Descending the Baralacha Pass

Descending the Baralacha Pass

Lake at the top of the Baralacha Pass

Lake at the top of the Baralacha Pass

I stopped in the tent village down from the pass and hung between awake and asleep. I forced down some food and continued down the valley on a road that was sometimes prestine and sometimes very bumpy.

Valley below the Baralacha Pass

Valley below the Baralacha Pass

Valley on the way to Sarchu

Valley on the way to Sarchu


The horses were pushed forward by the shepherd and back by the bulldozer. Some were pressed against the prescipice. After a brief moment of panic they moved to safety. Finally the horses did lead the way past the bulldozer and forklift truck to push through the freshly fallen scree. It all took half an hour.

Clearing the road

Clearing the road

I was impatient. I know – I shouldn’t have been. Cycling with the British cyclist Josh, we had got it into our heads to make it over the Barachala Pass in one day. He was on the other side of the scree as the minutes ticked by.

We decided around Pastio to give it a go. I put on my Infected Mushroom music for the first time this trip, and felt so alive and happy. I felt strong as I climbed the hairpins, with beautiful mountains as a backdrop. I got in the zone and laughed with joy.

The road up

The road up

At Pastio, we remarked that there were only men there. No women. It is a man thing – a right of passage of a sort – to ride the Manali Leh on a motorbike. The men were bathing in the lake there. It was a bit cold for us, and anyway, we were men with a mission. Next stop: Zing Bar.

The road to Zing Zing Bar

The road to Zing Zing Bar

Before Zing Zing Bar I got cramp in my leg. *sigh* I sent a message on to Josh through a passing car that he should continue. I’ll make it to Zing Zing Bar and stay the night. Rather than continuing, he returned, and we cycled the last km to Zing Zing Bar together.

After a prolonged meal, be both continued. The tents for sleeping were 6km further on.

I’m now happily set up in Zing Zing Bar. Josh is on his way over the pass. I think it will be tight, getting over the pass on daylight – even without cramp. Zing Zing Bar is a cool place to spend the evening.

Zing Zing Bar

Zing Zing Bar

Zing Zing Bar

Zing Zing Bar

My tent at Zing Zing Bar

My tent at Zing Zing Bar


A group of mountain bike cyclists doing a supported Manali-Leh and a single British guy doing it unsupported with less luggage than I would take to go to the supermarket. I won’t be alone scaling the big passes. But today is a rest day in Keylong.

Sweet things in Keylong

Sweet things in Keylong

The road was good, and 50km was again a short morning affair. The afternoon was spent eating Indian sweets fattening up for the heights of the coming days.

The road to Keylong

The road to Keylong

The road to Keylong

The road to Keylong

Tomorrow I’ll be cycling with Josh to Zing Zing Bar.


Bumpy rocks. Streams that take over and become the road. Mud slicks after stream crossings that become one long mud bath in the dying kilometres as the road climbs to Grampoo. It was all a bit of a challenge in the beginning. In the end I just wanted to hit the sealed road and for it to be over. And now it is. I’m on the Manali – Leh road.

The road to Spiti

The road to Spiti

The rain had cleared and the valley was now surrounded by snowy, rocky peaks. A beautiful sight as the road followed the Chandra River downstream.

The road to Grampoo

The road to Grampoo

The road to Grampoo

The road to Grampoo

The stream to Grampoo

The stream to Grampoo

The mud bath to Grampoo

The mud bath to Grampoo