Ladakh trip Day 4: 13th July – (Solang – Jispa: Stuck near Rohtang Pass)

We woke up at 5:30am and after grabbing an early breakfast we leave at 7am for Jispa. We also happened to meet a few trekkers who are now organising group tours. They told us that it is always safe to travel in groups. We wanted to wait for them but we were getting too late. Hence we decided to move first. From Solang Valley to Rohtang is again a beautiful drive and we start interacting with our driver – Rana. I think Rana could have easily been a model. He carried himself in a stylish manner and his Himachali features made him look really tough and strong. Now we are slowly going into higher altitudes. We remind each other of the various myths associated with altitude sickness and popping a pill of a Diamox (Acetazolamide) helps. We stop at Marhi for tea and manage to buy some glucose powder to keep ourselves charged at these altitudes. Before reaching Marhi we spot a lonely yak grazing nearby. We get really excited to see the yak as we have never seen this creature before. But the yak ignores us completely. Doesn’t even bother to offer a second gaze at us.

After taking a break at Marhi we move on to Rohtang. The Rohtang Pass is at an altitude of 13.051 ft (nearly 4000 m) and to our dismay we find ourselves stuck in a really long traffic jam. Since we had departed early, we manage to find space and wading through the trucks and horses and donkeys, our vehicle finally came to a halt. Rana says that the problem had got solved yesterday. We figure out that the Pass is perfectly fine to travel as no landslides have occurred. But there is a truck that has got stuck on the tiny road and it is in an awkward position as it can fall into the valley at any moment. Upon further investigation we realized that this has been the scene since the past few days and vehicles (especially trucks carrying goods) have been stuck across both the sides of the Pass. Our only option is to wait.

But we weren’t really complaining. How often do you get stuck in a traffic jam at 13,000 ft? And while you are traffucked at this altitude, you have the clouds, waterfall, horses and donkeys for company. I deliberately stayed away from my iPod. I chose to indulge in photography and conversations. I spoke to a few truck drivers and fellow travellers. People from diverse backgrounds, all across India, are stuck at 13,000ft near Rohtang. These truck drivers were really kind enough to offer us tea in spite of them running on limited supply of food and grocery. Few of them were drivers who regularly carry goods from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. I do not wish to get into the details of their life stories now, but it surely opened my eyes to a whole different world. Rest of the time I spent inside the car. Scribbled a few words here and there. Read a few pages of books that I carried; and kept on gazing at the miniscule details of nature. It is here I truly began to rest. Before it became dark, Rana asked us about our plans for the night as the BRO officials and Himachal Pradesh Police had failed to save the truck. The situation was getting worse. We decided that we should drive all the way down to Marhi to spend the night as it would be dangerous to do the same at these heights due to lesser oxygen levels in the night. We drove back to Marhi and had dinner at a local restaurant. By 8pm we were ready to sleep. We had no other option but to spend the night in the car. There is something really weird about spending a night in a car as

(a)    You are not really in the best of positions to sleep. Hence you keep shifting positions from time to time which also results in partial sleeplessness.

(b)   If you are sleeping in the front (like I was), you really have to make sure that none of your body parts cause damage to the steering and the dashboard.

Somehow we manage to kill the night.

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~ by rb on July 26, 2010.

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