Baralacha La was 14 kms away on the 5th day. Venu was down with altitude sickness and preferred to walk rather than cycle. None of us had a great sleep the previous night due to the cold and altitude. And now, it was uphill until the top. A few kilometers later, mountain sickness caused Venu to retire to the jeep. He would get better only after we reached a lower altitude. Sandeep coughed and cycled all the way. Cycling here is really a test of one’s limits. You start thinking in terms of moving forward by inches.
After 3 hours through snow, ice and summer streams; After 2 tyre punctures on 2 different bicycles; And after all the sweat and pain, the reward was here: Suraj Tal. Photos can’t do full justice here.
Another one hour later, we finally crossed Baralacha La. 2/5 passes passed. 3 more remained; Nakee La, Lachalang La and Taglang La. For today though, we were lucky with just another 30 kms of downhill.
Along the Tsarap river, the road feels like a dream. It looks flat but we could rocket through the landscape at mad speeds until we reached Sarchu, our campsite for the day.
Next day, we planned to reach Pang, 75 kms away. But there were two big passes to be crossed on a single day if we were to do that. So, we were still deliberating on whether to stay at Pang or close the day at Whisky Nala which was just 50 kms away. Anyway, we packed some Paratha for breakfast and started off.
We crossed funny landmark points such as Whisky bridge, Brandy bridge and Twing Twing bridge. Through Gata loops, our huge cavalcade of 19 cyclists had become a sight in itself. The Gata loops is a straight climb uphill for 10 kms turning 180 degrees 21 times and is a morale killer. The next 10 kms after Gata loops towards Nakee La though is pure evil. Like a TV mega serial, it went on and on and on.
Finally, after Nakee La, we cycled 5 kms downhill to reach Whisky Nala. The unventured group carried on to cross Lachalung La but the 7 of us made a change in plan and stayed at whisky nala.
At such uninhabitable places stay some of the most happiest people. The tent owner for example lives a nomadic life, doesn’t care much for a distant future and is as cheerful as anyone can be. They didn’t even charge more money than they needed and were always anxious to help. There is plenty to learn from these lot.