Getting High with the Heights: Gautam's On-road Experience of Ladakh
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“May your trails be crooked, winding, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds,”
These words by Edward Abbey describe the journey of every bike rider who builds the courage to go on solo bike rides in the mountains.
There is no such thing as “enough travelling,” believes our Jharkhand-based wanderlust soul Gautam Kumar. Gautam, who has reserved a special corner in his heart for travelling, has explored the entire country and doesn’t want to stop anytime soon. A government employee otherwise, he has found his kick in travelling and makes the most of any time he gets to set off on a new voyage.
Mountains often call him, and it’s his fitness that takes him to the hills every time he gets an opportunity to travel. Having played sports—badminton and cricket on a professional level—he credits his fitness to these sports and the frequent adventures he becomes a part of. To up his thrill game, he decided to go on a solo trip to Ladakh this June, and boy he doesn’t regret his decision! Although he went solo, Gautam made all kinds of friends on his sojourn, and he describes his co-travelers as passionate and adventure-crazy people who entertained him throughout his solo journey.
Planning the Dream Trip
It takes some guts to plan a solo road trip to Ladakh, also for the fact that most of the bikers travelling to the place are always with their bike gangs. However, for Gautam, it was high time he visited Ladakh as he had been to almost every part of the country. With no second thought, he booked a Thrillophilia package to Ladakh and set off for his solo bike trip from Manali to Leh in mid-June.
Not only did he plan the trip out, he also prepared himself for the solo trip to the mighty hills by researching the weather and the places worth exploring. Since the trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, he also recommends carrying certain essentials like safety kit for biking, medicines, warm clothes and raincoat, camera and power bank, a torch to help during low-light trails and sufficient supply of dry fruits to keep your energy levels alive and kicking as you take in the mighty Himalayas.
Planning for such a trip in advance has its own perks, as you are not troubled by the unexpected and unpleasant, enabling you to enjoy every moment of your journey, believes Gautam.
Zigzagging through Lifelong Moments
Any Ladakh trip is always full of surprises and adventure, courtesy the dramatically changing terrain and unpredictable weather. Despite setting off on a solo trip, Gautam found amazing co-travellers on his solo bike trip from Manali to Leh.
The best part, according to Gautam, about the trip was the route between Zispa and Sarchu, as it was the first big water crossing which tested the skills of the bikers. However, the adventure enthusiasts did not shy away from taking on the challenges head-on. Not only did they continuously encourage each other, they had moments of fun on the trip as they occasionally stopped to click pictures and have snacks. They stopped by streams and rivers on the way and rejuvenated themselves with the fresh waters!
To boost their spirits, they also shared moments of joy as they danced on the roads several times to give their biking leg a break. As the trip transformed into a life journey, the continuously changing terrains left Gautam spellbound. By scaling to the top of the world at Chang La, which is also one of the highest motorable roads in the world, Gautam experienced the feeling of being on the top of the world, literally!
Scaling the mighty passes, namely Khardung La and Tanglang La, on a bike ensured that Gautam was finally living his dream. The snow-clad peaks at the high passes filled him with a feeling of joy and tranquillity. The drastically changing surroundings kept the bikers hooked all the time; the descend from the snow-capped hills at Khardung La towards Hunder had one of the most dramatic transformations, i.e. from snow to desert, just within the distance of a few kilometers!
Gautam also enjoyed riding the bike at high speeds when the road was favorable. One of the most memorable stretches for Gautam was when they rode their bikes at a top speed of 80 kmph for almost 20 miles! As the riders jumped up and down in joy throughout the journey, the highlight of the trip was yet to come!
Pangong “The Highlight” Tso
When one mentions Pangong Tso, visuals of the pristine blue lake waters reflecting the mountains appear in front of the eyes. For Gautam, witnessing the first glimpse of the Pangong Tso was the most memorable moment on his trip, and undoubtedly the most-awaited one too! The blue and violet shades of the lake waters from the first viewpoint is something that has left a lasting impression on his mind
The waters of the Pangong Tso truly reflect the joys of life — the ever-moving clouds creating the shades on the mountains. The changing hues of the waters of the lake against the backdrop of these mountains is a mesmerizing sight! He made the most of each and every moment spent at the camp of Pangong Tso by clicking pictures of the picturesque lake and experiencing solace on the lakeside.
During the journey, Gautam also had the best camping experience with the fellow bikers. They spent nights in camps which became an inseparable part of the tour as they spent it sharing life experiences and playing games in the highest mountains. The weather, which was cool and blew freedom, played the perfect role of justifying the beauty of the land that Ladakh is.
Gautam was so awestruck by the beauty of the land that he hails his decision to travel to Ladakh this June. Being an adventure junkie, he now intends to try his hand at bungee jumping in New Zealand, which is an unparalleled experience for adventure enthusiasts and thrill-seekers across the globe.