|09-19-2013, 10:26 AM||#31|
Joined: Feb 2007
Location: Berkshire, England. Just off the Beaten Track!
|09-20-2013, 08:16 PM||#32|
Joined: Jun 2010
Himalaya Ride. Day 6. Sarchu - Nakeela - LachalungLa - Pang - Tsokar
We woke up to a beautiful bright day, with light high level stratus covering part of the sky, the sunlight almost glittering on the distant snow covered
slopes of the many summits around us.
Our initial fears about the discomfort camping in tents unfounded. We still managed to elude the onset of altitude sickness. Everyone in high spirits, looking forward to today's ride.
We will leave Himachal Pradesh and continue on into Jammu Kashmir. The border between the two districts lies just a 10 minute ride away.
Two mountain passes awaits ahead, the Nakeela Pass ( 15,547ft ) , preceeded by the Gata Loops, and the LachulungLa Pass, the higher of the two at 16,616ft.
Roads today are 'good' meaning there will be sections of tarmac with the usual interruption by stony gravel tracks.
We plan for a 141km ride, giving ourselves 5 hours riding time.
Morning at Sonam Sarchu ADV Camp.
A quick check on Oxygen Level Content and Blood Presure reveals that everyone is in top form.
Chotu fussing over the bikes, making sure it works well at above 15,000ft.
Packing the support cars
The best part ; back on two wheels
The Border marking the end of Hichamal Pradesh and where Jammu Kashmir begins
Security Clearance Formalities. Our Guide does a seamless job getting us cleared into everywhere we wanted to go, seamlessly.
Back on our bikes, the road and scenery causes sensory overload
Chris wearing a wide smile in his helmet
Gata Loop. ( story and video on earlier post )
We took our time climbing Gata Loops, stopping at many places to stare in wonder as we saw an old mule track 'pasted' on the steep mountain sides.
The old unused trail. Quite unbelievable actually.
The distance signboard.
We ride towards Nakeela Pass.
Chris had a small tumble on one of the steep shortcuts between the loops, forgetting the wheezy Enfield is only pushing out 9 hp at that altitude.
Elliot, our Medic, went straight to work.
After some photos, we rode down to a Dhaba just 8km and 1,500ft below.
We left Nakeela Pass, the road descending to a valley about 1,000ft below.
We stopped at a Dhaba at Biskynala. This one offers 10 beds ( I counted ) and is run by yet another Nepalese family. This is indeed a welcome stop for many travellers as the next two Dhabas are at Pang, 35 kms North East or Bharatpur, 90kms due west towards Jispa.
From Biskynala the road climbs to another Pass, the LachulungLa ( 16,616ft) before descending into the Pang Valley.
LachulungLa sits 54kms from Sarchu
The descent into Pang Valley is gradual, a marked contrast from the steeper slopes we have grown accustomed to. Roads are pretty good and we made good speed.
As we got into the Valley, the road levels off at around 14,500 - 15,000ft.
The road seems to run along a river, which would have been very wide in the wetter period after winter as the snow melts. When we pass through the river was a mere stream.
I call this place the Gorilla Head Valley. Note the shape of the rock.
This valley is definitely carved by ths stream over millions of years, kinda like a mini Grand Canyon.
Rare distance marker alongside the road.
SP Lee taking photos.
Roads carved on steep mountainside
We regrouped again just before Pang
Onwards to Pang
From Pang we climbed another 800ft to the More ( pronounced Morey ) plains. I rode off the track to get some pictures of mountain sheep grazing nearby.
The More(y) Plains is flanked by two ridges of mountain on either sides. Its flat and has the straightest road i have ever encountered on this ride so far. Its unlikely I will see another road as straight on this trip. The tarmac seems newly laid, perhaps just a few months before we arrived.
Bruce taking opportunity testing the Enfield's top speed.
As we got closer to TsoKar the road turned gravel
The turn-off to Tso Kar Camp was unmarked, and only tyre tracks leading onto the distance gave us a clue hat this is indeed a road.
We stopped and regrouped to ensure no one misses the turnoff.
The camp and the lake in the distance
Dinner was already waiting for us as we checked-in.
We turned in early as it got windy and cold outside. Tomorrow we are all looking forward to staying in a Hotel in Leh, and also doing the Laundry as well as getting our electrical stuff charged.
It was yet another great ride today.
|09-21-2013, 07:46 AM||#33|
Ride Far - Ride Fast
Joined: Nov 2003
Location: Now only Montreal
Beemers Past and Present: 74 R90S, 77 R100RS, 85 K100RS, 2x 87 K100RS, 96 R1100GS (getting hacked), 99 R1100S, 2002 R1150GS, 2005 F650 Dakar
Plus the occasional Triumph, BSA, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and KTM but who's counting
|09-21-2013, 08:02 PM||#35|
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Research Tangle
This is fantastic
I'm loving this ride report, looking forward to more.
Thanks so much for posting.
1986 BMW R80RT
2001 BMW R1150GS
|09-22-2013, 05:54 PM||#38|
Joined: Jun 2010
The BRO or Border Roads Organisation is a section of the Indian Army that builds most of the roads in the most challenging environment in India. Through Project HIMANK, started in 1985, they maintain and improve these vital roads that serves otherwise cutoff areas that's separated by many mountain ranges from the rest of India. Important as a lifeline not just for the general populace but also for Military in a highly sensitive area, the BRO has only 4 months a year to undertake its task, the rest of the year these areas are snowbound. The BRO has been under the command of Lt Gen AT Parnaik acting as Director General since late 2012.
The BRO roadworkers are from another part of India called Bihar and are not locals. To date, its estimated that about 250 workers have been killed in roadbuilding activities, given the tough terrain, high altitude and extreme weather conditions.
Following the Kargil War with Pakistan, maintenance of these roads are recognised as something of National Interest, which also incidently acts as an economic multiplier as well.
They indeed deserve their nickname as the Mountain Tamers.
Despite the seriousness of their role, they still have time for some humor.
The Himalayan Roadsigns, here's 5 of them
|09-25-2013, 08:47 PM||#41|
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Outstanding memories of a great trip, unbelievable scenery and excellent accommodations + everyone on the trip added to the positive.
|09-25-2013, 11:28 PM||#42|
Joined: Jun 2010
Himalaya Ride. Day 7. Tso Kar - TanglangLa - Leh
We woke up to a beautiful morning. The cobalt blue skies was initially covered by wisps if stratus clouds, awaiting the heat of the sun to before dispersing. Today we all are looking forward to staying in a proper hotel room in Leh after two nights in tents.
Chotu as usual is busy taking care of the bikes.
Flo basking in the heat of the rising sun.
Getting ready to ride
We rode to TsoKar, a lake just 3 kilometers from our campsite. At 14,500, its 1,000ft higher than Mount Kinabalu, and twice the height of Gunung Tahan. Fed by two snow melt streams, flanked by two mountains taller than 19,000ft, the Thugjey and Gursan Peaks, the plains surrounding Tso Kar support a small community of Gulls, Terns and Cranes. Salt used to be collected from this brackish lake by Nomadic Tribes until the last decade. Mountain Goats and Yaks, belonging to the tribesmen are left grazing wild.
This place is a popular stop amongst Adventurers going to Leh, another 140km North West. Just off the Manali - Leh "Highway", the turnoff is unmarked and can be easily missed. The ride to the camp is all gravel, but the best kind, no rocks, no potholes, just naturally compacted sand for about 10km.
After 30 minutes we turned back onto the plains and rode towards the 'Manali - Leh Highway'
We were on higher ground looking back at our campsite and saw our support car bringing the ladies to where the Yak were grazing.
We regrouped and continued
After an hour of riding up 3,000ft we reached TanglangLa, the 2nd highest Pass. From here its downhill all the way to Leh, another 120km away.
Soon everyone arrived.
Time for some camwhoring at the Pass
A Monk setting up prayer flags at the Pass monument.
Heading downhill for Rumtse, our planned break stop for some refreshments.
The road down from TanglangLa was pristine, fresh tarmac hardly a month old, not a dip not bump on the road, the kind a Panigale rider will shed tears for. This road went on for 20kms and we made good time coasting downhill aided by the probably 10hp the Enfield engine is putting out at this altitude.
Saw this Mule train at the bottom of the mountain just 10kms from Rumtse
Onwards to Rumtse
Stopped by this stream for a picture
Rumtse is a Military Outpost. Nearby there are a number of Dhabas offering tea and snacks, along with dormitory type beds for travellers.
From Rumtse we ride along a Valley, following the river that feeds the Gangga at Karu. We saw a few small settlements, and some Stupas that looks at least 500 years old. Stunning rock formation, soil colors running riot, in various shades of brown to orange.
Close to Upshi we found another Mule Train. Beautiful village though.
Upshi is a checkpoint that has a huge Military presence with a Camp just 3 kms away. We rode along a Camp perimeter that must have been at least 4kms, almost a quarter of the distance to Karu.
Onwards to Karu, our lunch break before Leh, our final leg of the day.
Karu is about 35kms from Leh. After lunch we rode on a North-Westerly direction to Leh. The roads were excellent, with no gravel section whatsoever.
15 involved just to put up a sign.
Thikse Gompa or Thikse Monastery (also transliterated from Ladakhi as Tikse, Tiksey or Thiksey) (thiksok Nambar tak pe ling) is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect, located on top of a hill, approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh in Ladakh, India. It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh.
The monastery is located at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) in the Indus valley. It is a 12-storey complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. One of the main points of interest is the Maitreya (future ****) Temple which is installed to commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to this monastery in 1970. A 15 metres (49 ft) high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, covering two storeys of the building is deified in the monastery. A nunnery is also part of the complex.
Leh ahead, just 15kms.
Our Hotel in Leh.
Our Route Today
Leh was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now the Leh District in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh District, with an area of 45,110 km square, is the second largest district in the country.
The town is still dominated by the now ruined Leh Palace, former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace. Leh is at an altitude of 3524 metres (11,562 ft), and connects via National Highway 1D to Srinagar in the southwest and to Manali in the south via Leh-Manali Highway
Leh was an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley between Tibet to the east, Kashmir to the west and also between India and China for centuries. The main goods carried were salt, grain, pashm or cashmere wool, charas or cannabis resin from the Tarim Basin, indigo, silk yarn and Banaras brocade.
Although there are a few indications that the Chinese knew of a trade route through Ladakh to India as early as the Kushan period (1st to 3rd centuries CE), and certainly by Tang dynasty, little is actually known of the history of the region before the formation of the kingdom towards the end of the 10th century by the Tibetan prince, Skyid lde nyima gon (or Nyima gon), a grandson of the anti-Buddhist Tibetan king, Langdarma (r. c. 838 to 841). He conquered Western Tibet although his army originally numbered only 300 men. Several towns and castles are said to have been founded by Nyima gon and he apparently ordered the construction of the main sculptures at Shey. "In an inscription he says he had them made for the religious benefit of the Tsanpo (the dynastical name of his father and ancestors), and of all the people of Ngaris (Western Tibet). This shows that already in this generation Langdarma's opposition to Buddhism had disappeared." Shey, just 15 km east of modern Leh, was the ancient seat of the Ladakhi kings.
During the reign of Delegs Namgyal (1660–1685), the Nawab of Kashmir, which was then a province in the Mogul Empire, arranged for the Mongol army to (temporarily) leave Ladakh (though it returned later). As payment for assisting Delegs Namgyal, the Nawab made a number of onerous demands. One of the least was to build a large Sunni Muslim mosque in Leh at the upper end of the bazaar in Leh, below the Leh Palace. The mosque reflects a mixture of Islamic and Tibetan architecture and can accommodate more than 500 people. This was apparently not the first mosque in Leh; there are two smaller ones which are said to be older.
Several trade routes have traditionally converged on Leh, from all four directions. The most direct route was the one the modern highway follows from the Punjab via Mandi, the Kulu valley, over the Rohtang Pass, through Lahaul and on to the Indus Valley, and then down river to Leh. The route from Srinigar was roughly the same as the road that today crosses the Zoji La (pass) to Kargil, and then up the Indus Valley to Leh. From Baltistan there were two difficult routes: the main on ran up the Shyok Valley from the Indus, over a pass and then down the Hanu River to the Indus again below Khalsi (Khalatse). The other ran from Skardu straight up the Indus to Kargil and on to Leh. Then, there were both the summer and winter routes from Leh to Yarkand across the Karakorum. Finally, there were a couple of possible routes from Leh to Lhasa. The first Englishman to reach Leh was William Moorcroft (explorer) in 1820.
The first recorded royal residence in Ladakh, built at the top of the high Namgyal ('Victory') Peak overlooking the present palace and town, is the now-ruined fort and the gon-khang (Temple of the Guardian Divinities) built by King Tashi Namgyal. Tashi Namgyal is known to have ruled during the final quarter of the 16th century CE. The Namgyal (also called "Tsemo Gompa" = 'Red Gompa', or dGon-pa-so-ma = 'New Monastery'), a temple, is the main Buddhist centre in Leh. There are some older walls of fortifications behind it which Francke reported used to be known as the "Dard Castle." If it was indeed built by Dards, it must pre-date the establishment of Tibetan rulers in Ladakh over a thousand years ago.
Today Leh is home to 20,000 locals, but during the peak season, the population easily doubles. It has one of the highest airports in the world, with the runway length long enough to accomodate big jets like the B737 and the A320.
|10-12-2013, 05:46 PM||#45|
Joined: Jun 2010
Himalaya Ride 2013. Day 8. Leh - ChangLa - Pangong Tso
Today we ride to the magnificent Pangong Tso Lake, a 185km journey that will take us across the ChangLa Pass ( 17,586ft ) after which we descent onto the ChangTang Plateau ( 14,000ft ) to Tangtse then onwards to the lake.
Pangong means " Long, Narrow Lake of Enchantment " in Tibetan. The saltwater lake sits at just over 14,000ft, is 135km long and about 7km at its widest point. Surrounded by high mountain ranges all round it looks like a longish bowl that begins in India and stretches into China. The border is still in dispute, so getting there will require a permit from Leh. The road to Pangong is mostly good, however there are portions that are still without tarmac and we found a number of water crossings that makes the riding interesting. The climb up to ChangLa Pass is steep and about 10km from the top the tarmac gives way to a gravel pebble strewn roadway. The ride down from the summit is also similar, with tarmac making an appearance after another 12 kms.
An Inner Line Permit must be obtained from Leh, to be presented at Tangtse, a checkpoint about 50km from the Lake. Only semi-permanent / seasonal accommodation is available, all in the form of tents with attached toilets. These tent complex are set just a few meters from the Lake Shore.
Departing the Hotel, we filled up for the 370km round trip. There is no fuel available for the whole length of this journey.
The road to Pangong Tso takes us to Karu, about 35km from Leh.
We rode along the same road on our way to Leh yesterday when we came from Tso Kar. A repeat along the same road was welcome, giving us another chance to see the numerous Stupas and Monestaries.
The Himalaya Range is still growing at the rate of 5mm per year. Apparently, Geologists attribute this to the collision of the Indian Sub-Continent with Asia, pushing the mountains up. They also believe that this will only stop 20 million years from now.
I have no reason to doubt them as evidence of 'Fold' Mountains are everywhere. Three pictures below shows the uplifting forces pushing up layers of rocky sediments to acute angles forming mountains from previously flat land that was below sea level.
Bruce having a moment of 'indiscipline' just for the camera.
Khem near Chemrey.
The climb to ChangLa Pass ( 17,586ft ) starts gradually from 11,000ft. The climb is made gradual to allow for underpowered lorries to use the pass. This means the road zig-zags along the steep slopes. The road is narrow, most of the time only 1 1/2 lanes wide that tightens up to just one lane at many points. The horn on my bike becomes a lifesaver.
The numerous amusing roadsigns keeps us entertained.
This is the only area of greenery that we will see throughout the journey to and from Pangong. Tangtse on the other side of the Pass has some greenery, even a few trees exceeding 10 feet, but its was just small patches. The residents of Shakti Valley diverted man snow melt streams for agricultural use.
Remarkable place. Picture time.
We rode on, with ChangLa still ahead.
Mountain sheep seems comfortable grazing on steep slopes.
The road in the background zig zagging on the sides of the steep slopes makes for shallow climb angle, but adds tremendous distance to the ride.
A checkpoint that seems uninterested in us so we did not even stop.
More pics of the ride up
Rockfalls and landslides are common. Ths boulder probably just rolled down a few minutes ago.
Just 4kms from ChangLa we found this stupa, built in honor of a Monk named Chang. The Pass borrows his name.
Plenty of Military movement. Pangong Tso Lake is still in dispute.
The Pass is guarded by the Indian Army. They also have a teahouse wher complimentary tea is served. Great people.
Hot Tea at 17,700ft is just the thing to do.
Our mechanic stands guard as we had our refreshments.
ChangLa Pass. 17,586ft / 5360m
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