Guru and I woke up at 5 am with memories of torrential rain, lightning and thunder of the night gone by. Hoping that there were no new landslides to block our progress towards Manali, we proceeded to load our motorcycles. Turned out we also needed to wake up the hotel staff to fix us some breakfast. By 6:30 am we were riding north toward Manali.
We reached Manali at 11 am and hooked up with Pankaj of Hardev Motors, the provider of our back up vehicle, a Bolero jeep. We dumped all our luggage in the jeep and kept the bare essentials in our tank bags. We have already sent Pankaj a list of items we wanted him to purchase and keep ready in the Bolero. Stuff like the stove, utensils, Maggi packets, etc. I’m pretty sure he thought that we were crazy. But I was never more serious about cooking a meal and enjoying a cup of hot tea at the world’s highest motorable pass.
We had hot momos for lunch in Manali and by 1:30 pm we turned our headlights towards Rohtang pass and started riding.
The weather at Rohtang pass was absolutely horrible. The combination of rain and fog resulted in dismal visibility. As we climbed to higher altitude the insides of my helmet vizor started to gather frost and I was basically riding blind. Lifting the visor ended up exposing my face to the ice cold air and then my beard started gathering frost. By the time I had reached Rohtang top I was looking like Santa Claus.
We paused at Rohtang for some rest and to grab a bite. I had a packet of Maggi noodles and a steaming hot cup of tea. Both felt absolutely awesome.
The weather going down Rohtang was astonishingly the exact opposite than climbing up the pass. It was dry as a bone with a few streams of water crossing what was left of a road every now and then. The road was so bad it felt as if a farm tractor drove by and ploughed straight through it. I was riding my motorcycle on first and second gear trying not to fall off the menacing cliffs.
At 6 pm we stopped for a cup of tea at a tiny but beautiful village called Sachar.
According to our original plan, by nightfall we should have reached Sarchu. But that wasn’t going to happen. So we took stock of our progress and decided to try and reach Jispa, which was the place we should have slept the previous night. The initial 48 hour delay forced to play this game of catch up and it led us to ride our motorcycles long and hard with short breaks after every few hours. We stopped at Tandi, fueled up our motorcycles and made the final dash towards Jispa.
At 7:30 pm we reached Keylong. I had a bowl of hot tomato soup, Guru had a light meal and we decided push forward towards Jispa. We finally reached Jispa 9 pm. This was a second consecutive day of long hard riding. On this day we had ridden our motorcycles for almost 15 hours and covered around 250 kms on some pretty bad stretches of road. The moment I turned off my motorcycle’s ignition my body started demanding a hot bath and a soft bed to fall on to. Jispa is not a very happening town and we had to make do with tented accommodation for that night.
I had a hot bath and crashed into one of the two mattresses in the tent. After riding long and hard we had made up one of the two days we lost at Chandigarh. On that happy note my top floor lights went out and I was in la-la land.
Here is a video of the day’s riding.