Manali-Leh-KhardungLa Cycling Day 4 (Aug 27th 2009) : Jispa to Zingzingbar – “Awwww Those 7 km…. “

It was sunny with a clear blue sky in the morning. The breakfast was great as usual and I set off. We all had pretty much the same routine. Get up by 6:30. Get ready by 7:45. Breakfast completed by 8:15. Begin riding by 8:30 so that we reach the next campsite by 3 pm. Our conveniences were also nicely looked after. We even had a toilet tent!

By now the vegetation had thinned considerably from the first day. The mountainsides were all nude rocks and had no green covers. Nude rocks made the erosion carvings look spectacular. We were still in the Bagha basin and therefore some greenery stayed with us.

On way from Jispa to Darcha

On way from Jispa to Darcha

The road climbed steadily to Darcha some 10 km away and then the climb to Patseo began. I came across the mangled heap of a car which was an eerie reminder of what mountains can do to you if you were careless. The wreck was quite fresh and it sent chills up the spine.

Chilling reminder that mountains do not forgive the careless

Chilling reminder that mountains do not forgive the careless

It was a steady gradient and the road was good.

Good roads from Darcha to Patseo

Good roads from Darcha to Patseo

I reached Patseo and was surprised to see its size. I was expecting a few settlements and a few shops. Instead, it was just a parachute tent besides Deepaktal, a man made small sized lake. Patseo was mostly an army base than a settlement.

The DeepakTaal- A manmade lake at Patseo

The DeepakTaal- A manmade lake at Patseo

From Patseo, suddenly the terrain changed its characteristics. It turned to the dry arid Ladakh styled look with a blink of an eye. It was majestic. Barren land all around and some tall snow capped peaks in the backdrop. Aaahhhh that’s the land I love and we took many photographs to capture its vastness and its beauty.

Barren landscapes begin

Barren landscapes begin

Majestic mountains....check out the blue sky

Majestic mountains....check out the blue sky

The road climbed through an army contentment and my fellow bikers expressed their astonishment that a civilian usable road cuts through an army area. I explained that this road is very closely monitored by the army and therefore its presence on the road is a tactical advantage. In fact till 1988 this was a route where civilians were not allowed at all. Ever since the route was opened for tourism, these army outposts keep a strict vigil on this route.

Russell's freeloading- Holding onto a truck. You will see such games played by destitute children in many parts of India but to see an Aussie do it was so much more fun!

Russell's freeloading- Holding onto a truck. You will see such games played by destitute children in many parts of India but to see an Aussie do it was so much more fun!

Russell was always amazed by the Indian trucks and their diesel fumes’ toxicity so he went after a truck, probably for an in-depth study and held it on for a while enjoying the freeloading ride and rest of us laughed and followed him.

Another group photo

Another group photo

We all were casual as we knew in next 2 km or so the ride ends for the day at Zingzingbar.

However, at Zingzingbar a shock followed. There was no water at the camping ground and therefore the tents would be pitched 7 km up ahead. We pushed on and were immediately hit on our faces by the gradient.

Zingzingbar is the base camp of BaralachaLa, the 16500 feet pass we were supposed to do the next day. So, from Zingzingbar the climb was up a stiff gradient. The mid day heat was on and the climb was tough. Practically everyone was running low on energy as it was a long time since breakfast. To add to the torture, suddenly the surface became all powdery dust and gravel for next 4 km. Somewhere in the climb Bikki gave up and he walked his bike up the inclines.

A tired Bikki walking up the incline

A tired Bikki walking up the incline

The site of the camp was a relief and we delved into our lunch boxes like a pack of hungry wolves.

Zingzingbar recorded the highest temperature of the entire trip. In the sun the temperature in the late afternoon reached a whopping 40 degrees Celsius. Everyone unanimously acceded the fact that the last 7 km of uphill was an unexpected toil. Psychology plays a big part in these daily stage climbs and today was one occasion when we were at the receiving end.

The next day was the climb up the 16,500 feet behemoth BaralachaLa. I went to sleep wondering how the next day would play out on such a high altitude. That night the temperature dropped to 2 degrees Celsius.

The day’s stats were:

day 04

day's progress highlighted in red

Total Distance

38 km

Total Climb

3300 feet

Total Time on Saddle

3 hours 45 min

Sleeping Height

14,100 feet

Oxygen

60% relative to MSL (mean sea level)

Little did I know that the day I was fearing the most would turn out to be a box of chocolates.

Read on: Day 5- Zingzingbar to Sarchu- “The Box of Chocolates”

All Links:

Prologue : Khardungla and My Conditioning

Day 1 (Manali to Marhi):  Meet the Gang

Day 2 (Marhi to Sissu):  The Big Climb up the Rohtang Pass

Day 3 (Sissu to Jispa):   The Cold Windy Day

Day 4 (Jispa to ZingzingBar):  Awww… Those 7 km…

Day 5 (ZingzingBar to Sarchu): The Box of Chololates

Day 6 (Sarchu to Whisky Nullah): The Beauty and the Beast

Day 7 (Whisky Nullah to Pang):  How Wrong Was I?

Day 8 (Pang to Lato): The Longest and the Best Day- Size Does Matter

Day 9 (Lato to Leh):   I Will Reach Leh

Day 10 (Leh to KhardungLa):  The Final Hurrah….

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