Day 10: August 17, 2010, Tuesday

Kaza to Chandra Tal

We took it easy and had our breakfast again at German bakery of more or less the same stuff. We run into the British kids again- who seemed confused about where they were going today! After the satisfying breakfast, we had to be sure that the bikes and bikers could move forward- Bijoor san went looking for a cab, Dev went looking for a mech and Beni decided that he needed to see a doc. However, me, he and Kjo went to get our boots polished- the poor combat boots looked like they had been through hell! So after we got our boots polished and taking he shoe guy's advice, we went to the "Mission hospital". There was a Korean doctor who checked on Beni and advised him on bed rest, showed sleeping positions and prescribed medicines. But of course, we had to ride out today- and Beni, though worried sick, was ready to roll.

Bijoor san got his Sumo cab and Dev got basic things fixed though his bike still sounded terrible. We started from Kaza at about 12 finally- but not before filling up at a petrol pump where someone had to manually pull at the pump (the world's highest retails outlet apparently!) because there was no electricity! We all also got the air pressure checked in our bike's tires and we were off, albeit the cab right behind us and most of our luggage in there. I kept my backpack on- it had my laptop, water, spares and some dried fruits. We met those British kids again, just outside Kaza. Apparently, they were now going towards Lossar and then Leh on the bus- they thought of getting a ride with our cab but we had to leave them behind because they refused to pay 1000 per head to go all the way to Gramphoo. The cab was costing us 6000 in any case so it was a fair price to ask.


The roads were a mixed bag of smooth surfaces with the rough patches- alternately running through dry, rocky valleys and green pastures and croplands. My pace was good and I led for a while before I decided to wait for the others. We had a few water crossings but Dev got stuck in one major one- just as Beni predicted on the spot! The bike wouldn't budge and it wasn't a case of aquaplaning as the rear tyre wasn't spinning. The cab driver, Tsering, had to roll up his pants, go into the water and push Dev all the way out of the water! By about 2:30 pm we came upon the small village of Lossar. We had a humble lunch of rice, dal and achar! This, as everyone told us, was going to be the end of metaled roads until Gramphoo! We absolutely did not know what to expect. Till we moved about 30 metres ahead on the road!

The Wild Wild West- Suku style!

 We instantly came upon a road that was sloping downwards and it had a stream flowing down the entire length, complete with rounded stones on the bottom! A group of people on Enfields was coming from the other side and they were struggling to climb this! The roads that followed were mix of rocks, gravel, loose sand mud, wet mud and water. Streams would often cut entire portions or even run along it. And we were always climbing and the views around us were getting more spectacular at every turn. In addition to the 100% focus on the road with the occasional glance at the scenery, trucks coming downhill from the opposite direction were really very distracting! 


Feeling my bike's engine revs slowing down a bit, I knew that we were very close to the highest point we would go in the whole trip- Kunzum Pass was around the corner! And sure enough it was. At 4551m, we toook the mandatory photographs and on Tsering's insistence, went to the Gompa right there to ask for blessings to move forward.We met 3 guys from Bangalore on two bikes coming from Manali and aiming to get to Kaza the same day! We advised against it because it was already 4:30 pm and darkness would slowly come over the hills. They decided that would probably stay over at Lossar- I sure hope they did! We were so high that we were quite close to the source of a stream as well!

Nearly an hour after Kunzum and traversing over similarly bad roads, we came upon a fork where the road on the right went to Chandrataal and the one on the left went to Batal. We wanted to see Chandra Tal so we took the right. I forgot how long the road was from there on the map so every five minutes I expected to see campsites and the lake. But all we got were narrow roads cut on mountain cliffs that would sometimes open up to flat green plateaus! As Dev and Kjo plowed on forward, I kept waiting for the others to show up in my mirror- I did not know if they were behind or if they had changed their minds about the lake! We crossed two deep river crossings- and they were probably deep because it was late evening in any case- and Suku nearly got stuck in one. After crossing the last stream, in my head I was not ready to go back through them or the narrow rocky roads that we had had left behind. And soon, just around the bend, we saw the campsite and were relieved. 

The tents were sort of expensive but Bijoor san got the price down to somewhat okay levels and in accordance with our mantra- "the point is to travel...". Light was going down but Dev wanted to use it for his pictures and he was insisting to go on his bike and take pictures- he had to return immediately and he hadnt even moved 200 metres from the camp! Next time, I think we needt o get our own tents- it would be handy everywhere I feel.

The camp had mediocre facilities. The food (rice, dal and aloo matar) was not only average, the utensils werent clean and there wasnt enough aloo matar for everyone for seconds! The Mumbai group was also there- they had got here earlier today and had done their bit of trekking already- there were going to push towards Manali tomorrow. We also plan to cross Rohtang tomorrow so we all made a decision to sleep early by 9 pm and get up at 5-5:30 to go trekking, see the lake and come back to ride again. Ofcourse, all this was conjectural at the moment.

Total distance covered=  101 kms approx.
Total cost= Rs. 800
[Breakfast= 100 + Water= 60 + Lunch=  40 + Dinner & Stay= 600 ]

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