Friday, August 31, 2012

Now we know why!

Kargil to Rangdum

We left Kargil early in the morning, before 8 am!!! Tanked up the bikes and we were on the way to Rangdum.  Rangdum is not very far in terms of distance - around 120kms but given the reputation of the roads we left early.

The initial part of the road was perfect. Greenery all around. The Suru river flowing right next to the road. Mountain peaks in the background. And the perfect morning sunlight. Somehow we resisted the temptation to stop at every turn and click more!

We stopped for breakfast at Sankoo wondering what was all the fuss about! The roads were perfect for riding.

After Sankoo the roads were good for a while but post that they started deteriorating... and soon the roads were nothing more than land flattened out by the plying of trucks and jeeps! Lots of small rocks and pebbles making it difficult to speed. The views though continued to be fantastic!

After a tough 5 hour ride from Sankoo covering just 80-odd kms we finally reached Rangdum. Towards the end of the ride the water levels on streams we crossed had risen enough to warrant attention. Weren't we happy that we had started early!

On reaching Rangdum, we went straight to the J&K Tourism Dak Bunglow. In a while the caretaker arrived and we were allotted a room. Rangdum is a small village of not more than 15-20 houses. With mountains on sides, the views from here are awesome.

Sipping chai at chacha's we were wondering what to do the next day. Riding a bike here was not just a test of the rider's skills and endurance but also his luck! Conditions were so conducive to something going wrong... and then if that happens you are doomed! No mechanic in a 100 km radius atleast. At max, 20 vehicles passing along the road during the entire day. Even a small problem such as a puncture could cause great hardships. We were unanimous that we shouldn't go ahead on bikes. After some deliberation we decided to leave the bikes and hitchhike onwards to Padum!

Once daylight disappeared, there wasn't much to do. No electricity! Just one solar lamp in the room. Tired from the day's ride we slept early. A couple of hours later I was woken up by someone banging fanatically on the door. I fumbled to locate my spectacles and switch on the solar lamp. By the time I opened the door I saw ZB rush out with the driver of the neighboring room's occupants. ZB and ZN, a couple from Mumbai were also doing a bike ride along the same route as us. I had briefly met them at one of the road blockages on the Leh-Kargil highway. Today they had started late from Kargil. Hence they encountered the water crossings at their worst. To make matters worse the bike's rear tyre got punctured. Feet drenched with chilling glacier water, soggy shoes and the biting night cold  - certainly not an enviable position to be in! Thanks to some help from a good natured truck driver, they somehow managed to reach Rangdum. ZB had come to the guest house to see if someone could take him back to fetch some of the luggage they had left behind. Finally they came back with all the luggage and were very generously accommodated by the D (the guest house caretaker) in his own home, since the guest house was already full!

Now we knew why no bike rental shop in Leh was willing to give us bikes!



No comments:

Post a Comment