|Sarahan to Chhitkul|
I woke up early to wash my bike and to see how the weather would respond to us. A slight drizzle was on but I decided to proceed washing nonetheless. Soon Bijoor san, Suku and Beni joined in on their respective bikes. The drizzle slowly died down and a strange mist started to slowly engulf the place but we could see the sun trying to break through the fog too. Except for me and Beni, the others went for breakfast to the HP Tourism place- we went a bit later in search of some Tibetan food- we found thukpa and chowmein in a small establishment- unfortunately it was all vegetarian but the break from the normal foods of the plains was very welcome. The faces had started to change in Sarahan and we could see more Mongoloid features- we felt at home so to say! ;) We made a brief stop at the temple but came out earlier than the others and started packing up our bags on the bike and very soon we were all ready to do another day of riding.
The original plan was to go to Sangla and possibly rest at Rakcham. Mr Singh had been calling all these days to check on us and it was on his valuable suggestion that we decided this. If we had time, we would probably go to Chitkul.
I, Beni and Suku (The Pegu boys) again managed to somehow break away from the rest- right till the end of the day! The roads were actually very good till we hit a place called Bhawa when we started approaching the dam project on the Sutlej undertaken by Jaypee. The roads disappeared- almost literally! There was a mixture of white cement in mud and stone for most of the way through Wangtu and even Karcham till a few kms before Sangla.
It was nearly 2pm when we were one km from Wangtu and we decided between ourselves that we will have lunch whenever we see the next town/restaurant. We were banking on Wangtu but we never saw it. Then we thought we would stop at Karcham but that also passed but we saw nothing to eat!Taking the right towards Sangla, we ran into some deep muddy slush but thankfully, since we had motorcycles, we did not have issues getting out of it.
|Beni celebrates early while Suku shows his aching hands!|
The bumpy roads mixed with the occasional stretches of slush and loose sand were taking a toll on the bikes and us. For company, there was a group in two 4x4s who did not seem like they were going any more faster than we were! We finally hit some hard tarmac and I didnt lose a moment to hug it! We had crossed about 20 kms in 1 hour and 7 minutes! Not to mention the earlier hour crossing about 20-25 kms!
|On solid ground again!|
The road wasnt always smooth but it was definitely better than what we had experienced the last one hour. We were slowly climbing the mountain and the air was getting thinner but cleaner as well. When we reached Sangla, we checked out the Guest House which seemed decent enough to stay. However, while we waited for the others over lunch (at 4:30 mind you!), we made some new plans. Suku quickly got his bike checked up before lunch and we sat down to resketch our plans.
The lunch was the beginning of the aloo-matar ordeal we would have to face from this day on. But the big breakthrough was the decision to carry on forward even if the others had not caught up since our plan was to stop at Rakcham in any case, and we took this belief in good faith that the others would land up there as well. The hotel guys suggested that we go to Chhitkul and stay at a Alpine View Guest House while the Guest House people said to stay in the guest house there. And so, armed with at least two places to stay in Chitkul, we went.
We reached Rakcham very soon after- about half an hour! The place we looked into seemed abandoned while we still felt that we had a lot of day light left. So, again in good faith, we left for Chhitkul and decided that we would stay there. I believed that if the guys did not see us at Rakcham, they would automatically proceed further. And within another hour of some decent roads mixed with some tricky bumpy mountain roads, we suddenly came upon our first big water crossing!
Beni was in the front and he just decided to take the plunge and carry on. Suku was after him and he decided to follow but somehow, he managed to keep steering to the right. I stopped till Suku was a little distance away and I also plunged into the water. The water was gushing from the left hand side from a slightly higher elevation (almost knee high) that made it just a bit tricky as it was strong enough to push our bikes- I guess that was what was happening to Suku. By habit, I put my foot down at the slightest hint of draft and the bike followed Beni's line and I was on dry ground at the same time as Suku, a bike distance on my right!
Psyched by our first water crossing, we stopped a little distance away once we were on the cliff based roads again. Suku dried out his shoes and we took some pictures and gushed about our first major water crossing- it did seem like we did pretty well. And to be honest, we did! We went on forward to get into Chhitkul and again, we had a little water crossing in our way. After the previous one, we broke no sweat on this one and I did not even have to put my foot down!
|Beautiful views greeted us on our way to Chhitkul|
|Suku squeezing his wet socks dry|
We checked out the PWD guest house first- they had only two rooms, no hot water, no food and no heat but it was astronomically cheap. Plus, it had a great view. However, we decided to check out Alpine View Guest house- for that we had to cross the stream again and this time around, Suku decided to stop in the water just as he was about to cross it and I sort of got stuck behind him! In the end, it was all okay- this place had rooms, was cheap(250/room) and had hot water too. And we would get food too. As we were getting worried about the bigger water crossing and the others, we heard Bijoor san's bullet and when we saw him, we knew that all was well. We all yelled and congratulated each other on the crossing and cursed the road before that.
|The two snow peaks that were hidden from view for the rest of our stay|
|The sun was ready to set on us|
We walked to the village in the dark through the stream to get water while the boys got themselves a Royal Stag as they felt they earned a drink that day. The woman who handed us this small bottle charged Beni 250 bucks but she was honest about the actual price and said that it was fair for her to earn a 50 buck profit on it- she also mentioned how the price is significantly higher for foreigners! Over drinks, chips and dinner, everyone shared their experiences of the day and we made the decision to stay one more night at this promising little village. We were already at a height of 3450 meters above sea level and there were some mountains around us that we were hungering to climb.
Total distance covered= 99 kms approx.
Total cost= Rs. 220
[Breakfast= 40 + Water= 60 + Lunch= 120 ]