The Spiti valley is not as popular as the other valleys in Himachal and rightly so. It is not for your average tourist, out on a holiday with chintu, babli and mummyji in tow and those who are slaves of luxuries.
No. This one is for badass travellers, the folks that are willing to tough it out. Those who are willing to take head on whatever nature, the elements and fate throw at them. The rewards are more than worth the trouble. The sights are no-doubt amazing but more valuable are the lessons that Spiti teaches you. I think everybody needs to get their butt kicked at least once in their lifetimes to get their bearings right.
Right, now on to our experience.
We got off the Leh-Manali highway at Gramphu and made our way towards Spiti, we had hoped to cross Kunzum La by evening but our first destination was Chattdu. about 20 kms from Gramphu. The road conditions began deteriorating as soon as we got off the highway. We managed to drive through rubble, nallas, pits all on a narrow road no more than 5-6 feet wide and with a drop a few hundred feet on one side. We managed to reach Chattdu safely, it was late in the evening, it had begun to rain and the light was fading. We had asked passers-by about the state of the road ahead, almost all of them had advised not to go ahead. We however went ahead and surely enough we ended up stranded on a glacier. The front tyre was stuck in an ice pit and it refused to budge. Three men, in light clothing, wearing chappals when it was raining and slippery were definitely not going to get an SUV out.
We tried, we exerted ourselves and did what any sensible person would have done much earlier, wait for help to arrive. Thankfully it did a few a minutes later. A couple of local tempo drivers, came to our rescue, they did their thing and the vehicle was out in a matter of minutes. At that point what we should have done was to check if we’d encounter any more trouble but no, we just shook hands, thanked them and went on.
You guessed it right, we were stuck again. Thankfully though it was not as serious as earlier. We couldn’t pass through a sloped road with snow/ice, because the snow had partially melted and was soft and since we didn’t have any snow chains, there was no traction, we kept slipping back. We decided that we wouldn’t take any more risks. We pulled up, tried to cook on a tiny stove in the howling wind. Instant noodles took an eternity and had to be washed down with some rum to keep ourselves warm.
We had the sounds of the river and stars peeking at us through the windshield and the windows for company. We were tired and so we dozed off quite quickly.
To be continued……..