Day 9 Leh-DC Office-Chang La-Pangong Tso
9th June 2016
To read this travelogue from start click HERE
Previous day between Sarchu and Leh on Manali was very eventful and hard for me.Today on 9th day,I woke up in guest house located at Changspa Road in Leh.Lady owner of guest house was kind enough to me charge me only 500 bucks as I was solo other wise she was charging 800-900 rs from others.She had also leased out part of his guest house to a person who was charging 1500 Rs per room per night.I woke and lazily as i was not in hurry because DC office open around 10 am.So I kept engaging myself by reviewing pictures on my DSLR and also put all the batteries on charging as there would be no electricity for next 2-3 days.Somehow killed my time in guesthouse and reached DC office for getting permits for Marsimik La,Chushul,and Hanle.Clerks at the office were very strict about issuing permits for remote sensitive areas.Few clerks were also not aware about the exact location of Marsimik La.However they were freely issuing permits for Chushul and Hanle.I convinced them about my purpose and assured them I will not indulge in any kind of unwanted activity.After hearing out my reasoning,they issued me permit for Marsimik La,Chushul and Hanle.Now,I was armed with an Inner Line Permit in my hands which was valid for Marsimik La,Chushul,Tsaga,Loma,Hanle.Around 12 noon,I started my scooter and headed towards Pangong Lake which was 160 kms away.I knew,I was late and would be reaching late at lake.But before heading towards Pangong lake,I procured extra petrol as there is no petrol pump en route.Leh-Pangong-Leh round trip is almost 350 kms so i must carry fuel for above distance.Petrol is available at Pangong in black rates but supply is not guaranteed.So I got the tank full and also carried 10 liters in jerry can and turned towards Pangong route.To reached Pangong,I needed to cross mighty Chang La pass which is cousin of Khardung La and above 17 K feet altitude.Road to Chang La is steep and broken at many places and ride is very tiring.Around 3 PM,I reached Chang La top and was welcomed by a stormy weather.Fast winds were blowing and sky was black and gloomy.Temeprature dipped and entire place was heartbreaking for me.My loneliness was killing me.I reached at the top parked my scooter and staright way entered inside the cafeteria for saving myself from cold.I ordered tea.Entire cafe was full of tourists and everyone was inside for a cuppa.I sat among the crowd and observed them.Suddenly,snowfall started and everything became white.I knew,i was in big trouble now and further delay in reaching Pangong.I waited sometime for snowfall to stop but it did not.With heavy heart,i resumed my ride towards Pangong lake in a heavy snowfall.My finger were numb.Stopped in a army camp for some warmth on their fireplace.Snowfall had intensified.I proceeded further and after few kilometers finally found weather clear and road also improved.I gained speed and reached Tangaste and met 3 bikers who were also going towards Pangong Lake.It was almost dark when I reached Tangaste village.Pangong was still 40 kms.Somehow reached Pangong lake in pitch dark and instantly checked it first dhaba at lake….Rancho Dhaba.Ordered tea and sat around fire for heat.I was completely exhausted,tired and cold.Today was heavy day.Three bikers also arrived and we hired a tin shed for nigh stay.Around 8-9 pm,we retired for the night.Rain was still pouring outside making it impossible to stroll at the shore of lake.I knew this night is gonna be a long night wrapped in blanket all alone.Other 3 bikers were fast asleep and snoring.But I was worried about the weather.This weather can potentially jeoparadise my Marsmik La plan.
Next morning when I woke up and came out of my tin shed,i found Pangong Lake deserted and engulfed in foggy weather and overcast sky.Very few people were seen outside of their tents.It was still drizzling and whole scene made me depressed,dejected and disappointed.I feared that in such bad weather,I cant start my ride for Marsimik La.I went inside my cafe and ordered a tea and some eatables.Time was around 7 AM.My room mates also came out and joined me over morning.I utilized this free time to clean my scooter,warm it up,and also secured essential food for Marsimik La ascent.Me,my scooter was all set and ready.I waited rain to stop.Around 10 am,sky god took a pity on me and sun came out.I instantly started my scooter and reached the ITBP post which is 23 kms from Pangong lake.I requested In charge officer to allow me to go to Marsimik La.I also deposited my Inner Line Permit.ITBP staff also deposited my all cameras with them and gave me go ahead.I was super happy.Finally I was going to scale elusive Marsimik La pass,the highest pass.Initial few kilometers were smooth but soon road disappeared and only stone filled,very steep ascent.Scooter was suffocating and finding it difficult to ascend.But slowly I inched forward and reached a wide ground.There were tyre marks everywhere and it was very difficult to find the correct trail for pass.I lost my way many times but luckily i spotted fresh tire marks of an XUV and followed them and reached the right tracke and within in 2 minutes ,I was at mighty Marsimik La Pass.The pass that stands at 18953 feet altitude in the cold desert of Ladakh,The pass,gateway to Aksai Chin.The pass,where no scooter has ever reached.I was all alone and filled with adreline and goosebumps.I was very emotional.Finally after many Ladakh rides,I finally recahed at this pass and paid my prayers at the small temples of God Shiva.I thanked God for such moments.These moments were very few moments when I felt ecstatic in my life.Fast winds were blowing,it was total silence,felt scary also.I quickly snapped few pictures and started my scooter for return journey.I was overwhelmed and completely content at that moment after scaling high Marsimik La pass,the dream of every rider.It was now down hill and scooter was rolling down easily and suddenly my scooter stopped.I tried to start it again but it refused to start.I cleaned plug,i cleaned carburator but nothing worked.Staying at 18000 feet height is always life threatening.I used long breathing excersize i learned from a soldier at Mana Pass.Scooter problem wasted my 2 hours.It was now almost evening time.I pushed my scooter on down hill slopes for few kilometers and somehow covered half the distance towards ITBP post.Scooter was dead.Problem was still not detected by me.I left the scooter and started my downhill walk.ITBP post was still 10 kilometers away.I kept walking slowly and resting.There was no one in this wilderness.I was very terrified,tired and perplexed but was fully alert and healthy and there was no sign of any AMS.Thank God,my breathing skilled worked.Suddenly,I saw a truck coming towards me.It was god sent….I knew it was god sent.I waved them to stop and requested them to load my scooter in truck and bring it back to ITBP post.I gave my scooter keys to them and resumed my walk downhill.When i was 1-2 kms away from ITBP,I saw ITBP in-charge and 6-7 soldiers in a truck coming towards me.They were looking for me when I did not returned after many hours,I narrated the whole scooter episode.I came to ITBP post and officer completed some formalaties ,checked my medical vitals.They offered me tea and also offered me to stay overnight with food and all facility.Meanwhile local truck returned to the post with my scooter.ITBP officer directed them to carry my scooter till Pangong lake.I thanked ITBP staff for all their help and felt sorry that i put them in trouble.But ITBP officer was a gentleman and said that it can happen to anyone.Truck driver was asking for 1500 Rs but later agreed for 1000 rs.I sat in truck cabin and we reached Pangong Lake around 10 am.Truck drivers and his friends also repaired my scooter.Scooter electric coli has died.Luckily I was carrying a spare coil and it was replaced and scooter finally came to life.Thanks to local helpful people.Later I paid them and also threw a Rum party at 11 pm.A very successful ,hard,painful and eventful day came to the end.I can say one of the few memorable days of my life.But after all the pain,hardships and life threatening situations,God allowed me to put my scooter at Marsimik La pass,the 18953 feet high Ladakh mountain pass.My ride has already became success after this.I was a content person.I slept peacefully on that night.
God Shiv,my protector at Marsimik La
God Shiva at Marsimik La