Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 136 - July 22 - Leh to Lukung (Pangong Lake)

July22 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Share and Plan your Trips

158 KMs Trip Meter 17626 KMs

After Nobra valley thought of resting for a day at Leh. As usual when i have time to sleep i wake up pretty early! Thought the day would be empty with no work. But was a hectic day with blog update, new jerry cans, cash, sim recharge etc etc and slept bit late. Come morning alarm at 5 i am damn sleepy! I was wide awake the same time the previous day when i could sleep for hours! Any way after quite some snoozes i pull myself out of the bed and though packing is done the previous day it still takes a lot of time trying out the new jerry cans, of all the days i forgot to charge the cam battery! Some last minute stuffing and a long coffee made sure that i left only by like 7.30 am. A good 1.5 hours from what i planed. I go to the ATM and it does not work and i have to go to the other one and some more time. The weather is not looking good as well. Its all cloudy. I had just one main concern for the day, the dreaded Pagal nala near pangong lake. But i was assured that with the dull weather there would be less water by the time i made it there. But not really good for photography.

Reach the next town and see a shoe repairer and i wanted to fix my old cam pouch as the new one was not comfy and very irritating. Though the work seems good, thats a good 40 mins lost. All i think now is the Pagal nala. Reach karu and fill up a ltr of fuel just in case. Have maggie in sakti village and start the accent to the Mighty Changla. Hardly 3500 meters and the bike is already struggling. I see mountains and mountains with a line higher on each successive one. Wondered if my bike would do it. Slowly i am relegated down the gears one by one. At around 17000 feet i was down to 1st and 2nd gear! i can still see quite a few switch backs going up! Bike did k-top and wariLa in the same state of tune but not so now. If changla is like this wondered about the marsimik la! Have to mess with the tuning and i give the air screw half a turn outwards. The difference was huge and i could now ride in 3rd gear at 40kmph. Thats good enough. Soon the pass was like 5 kms and the pavement ends and its all offroads and small stream crossing and quite a few rocks. Cant maintain the momentum here and shuffle between the first 3 gears and slowly make it to the Changla pass. Yes my bike did it. Of course its pix session next. There is free tea, biscuits and raisins from the Indian army which i relish.

Get going and the other side is even more worse. Looks more steep and really bad surface for a few Kms. Just big stones some places. Its was kinda nasty till i get down to the pavement. Its not very smooth but still its pavement! With Changla Negotiated, just concerned about Pagal nala now. Not much distance to cover for the day but still there is a hurry and there is fight to ride ahead or stop for pix. Every day in Ladakh has been different experience and though cant explain in words the landscape was interesting. Now there is a threat of rain. The same clouds which may help me causing less water at pagal Nala, would turn bad if it rained and water there would swell. I am in rain drops now. But still carry on till they get heavier i thought. It was just small drops so i rode on. Reached the town of Durbuk kind on a plain in the valley floor and road towards Tangtse town. There is new BSNL tower in the town but the bad news is its not working! I trace out the Namsay guest house, whose contact was given to me by the hotel owner in Leh. There was this family who got interested in my ride and they had vdo cam and kinda interviewed me! i know its just a novelty to their trip but did want to act too much. Was loosing valuable time as i had to hurry up and cross pagal Nala. Finally when i was let go, meet the guest house owner and request him for fuel and its there in the next shop. Its at a premium like 50 bux for 750 ml. But atleast there is fuel. Now i am back to full stock. Was pretty hungry but wanted to cross Pagal nala first so hurried up.

The ride from Tangtse towards Lukung was very nice as well. Wanted to take lazy breaks many places. Kinda riding in between steep valley. But i am in a hurry. There seems to be no sigh of pagal nala. It only shows up like 3 kms from pangong lake. The water level is very less says the GREF workers who are now building a bridge across! I offroad down to the crossing and its kind like one feet for a few feet. Not much according to pagal nala standards at 3 pm. But i was in no mood to get my shoes wet. walked back to the workers and requested them to help me out. Actually i wanted their rubber boots for the crossing and save my leather ones. Two people accompanied me and held support at the back while i rode through feeling the cold water on my feet. It was all rocky and hands hurt. Get across and thank them with 100 bux together. Well my shoes are dry you know! But not much of a breather as it looks like it will rain. And i see kinda clear skies towards lake and i hurry up to ride out of the rain cloud. A couple mins and there i see the lake for the first time and what do you know sun i shining on the lake! and its vivid blue color. Was exited. But i see not deviation to Phobrang village. Dont tell me i have to cross pagal nala for that! Just nearing the lake sure enough there was a road going to the left towards Phobrang village. Ride out the lake and see the ECO huts to the right. With sun escaping from the clouds and shining on the lake, the first thing i wanted to do was to take some pix of the lake and ofcourse pose. After that went to the Eco huts and found the tent to be too disturbing in the wind. The winds had picked up pretty much. Settled for the room as i had to safe guard the stuff as well.

Now i for some much needed fluids and food. Pretty much lazed out the rest of the evening. After food went out to the lake again and this time got off the road and went to a camping spot where i could take the bike pretty close to the lake. Then what some photo session. Then comes this army jeep entertaining some civilians and the guy just drove reverse like 50-60 feet into the water. Well it was very shallow and solid. So my bike followed the suit but just went in some 3-4 feet. Wanted to keep the shoes dry u see. The wind was becoming pretty harsh and looked like it would rain any time. Stayed their quite some time and left when the sun hid behind the clouds. Rest of the evening just sat in the warm dining hall talking to other tourists who had come there and having hot food and hot lemon! Kinda felt like altitude is hitting me. Looks like i am the only biker for the day. Consulted with the drivers regarding my route plan for the eastern Ladakh. After dinner before going to the room saw the sky and its all stars! Walk away from the camp's lights and not seen such a clear sky in a long time. Could make out the Milky way galaxy as well. Tomm could be a big day either way if i am allowed to attempt M'la will have to see how things go.

Special parking for my bike at Hotel Mehak in Leh...





Small but cozy room...


Starting in the empty streets of Leh...


This is Shey palace on the way to Karu. This was the ancient capital of Ladakh...


See lot of Gonpas to my left...


Thats what it is...


Nice fast roads on the Leh Manali highway...





Reach Karu for the signboard...


Ride towards Sakti...


Some monastery...


The depression in the mountain range at the center of the pic is the Wari La...


Climbing up to Changla starts...


Leaving the Sakti village below....





The famous Changla ascent zigzag.


Bike already struggling and boy do i see switch backs high up!


At this point i was relegated to first and second gear, so Had to turn the air screw lean...


Going up and up...


As always the pass tops are bad roads...








Gets narrow nearing the top...


Almost there...


Made it to the Mighty Chang La... My phone says 17615 feet the same as Khardung La!!


The Chang La baba mandir...


Me there...


Forgot his name. He is a Siachen veteran who has completed his term there, Now on his way back to be posted in the plains. Helping the visitors with tea for now...





Ice on the other side...





Ice crystals...





A small frozen lake...


Nice place for a break...





See village below in the plains...


Mountain with an ice fall...


Going down to Durbuk...


In Durbuk village...


Village houses...


Wind mills but no wind today...


Road leading to Tangtse...


Fork to Lukung and Chushul...


Its a dramatic ride to Lukung between a valley...


Weather is not so good, but might help me with less water at pagal nala..


Road to Lukung...





Bridge being built on Pagal Nala...


But for now have to take the rough path...


Its doable but kinda still long for me... want my shoes dry...


The GREF workers who helped me with the crossing, actually i was more interested in their rubber boots!


Bike this side of pagal Nala....


First view of Pangong...


The sun is shining just on the lake giving it a glow...


Riding down to the Lake...


How many times i have seen this fork and dreamt about it and now finally my bike up there...


Its should be more like Lukung Chushul path!


Yeppie i made it....


With the sun behind the clouds... the color is not great...


I touch the Pangong waters!!


Some more posing by the lake....


Looks a bit dull under the clouds...


An army jeep daring into the lake....


The black bike gets inspired and goes into the lake too.. but not too far cos the owner wanted his shoes dry!


These guys had no clue where they were, it seems the army folks told them that the lake leads to pakistan and they actually believed them!


The pangong...


At a height of 13942 feet says my fone...


Me :D








The Eco huts where i stayed...


Changing colors of Pangong..


Stayed in room cos i had lot of things and it was windy outside...


Vertical travel for the day....

1 comment:

Nick Irvine-Fortescue said...

Good one mate, i like seeing lots of pics!

Pangong is awesome isn't it? It was one of my favourite places in the whole of India.

Your bloody shoes though! ;-) Why did you wear fancy shoes on a trip like this? I agree with you that gum boots are the ideal solution. I bought a pair in Manali at the start of my trip and it was the best R200 i ever spent.