Saturday 3 | September '05

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ladakh beckons
today's pics (18)
from srinagar
stream on the way
mountain and stream
more sonamarg
road view
ladakh landscape
ladakh landscape
ladakh landscape
trucks climbing
river at dusk
Day 9 - Zojila - our first pass, our first camp << | >>
9.00am: Srinagar  >  Sonamarg   >  Zojila  >  Camp :7.00pm

Did the usual touristy boat on the Dal Lake number at 6am with Vikram and then set off by 7.30 or so for the most exciting part of the journey. The lake in the morning was wonderful, but being in the boat, all one saw was the filth and the garbage that marred the entire beauty of it all. Watched for the sun rising over the mountains, and Vikram got some good shots of it - unfortunately, I didn't carry my camera on the boat. :(

The scenic drive up to Sonamarg was just a precursor to the desolate beauty of the Ladakh ranges, and with fairly decent roads, we had a very enjoyable drive.

going to school
going to school...

first glimpse of snow
first glimpse of snow

At Sonamarg where we stopped for lunch, we hired horses and went to see the nearby Thajiwas Glacier. My horse was a sweet thing called Badal, and I quite enjoyed making friends with it during the ride up. The glacier was the last melting pieces of the season and we walked under it for some Kodak moments.

4 of us at sonamarg
4 of us at sonamarg

thajiwas glacier
thajiwas glacier

The serious climbing began today, and we kept marveling at how truckers seemed so casual about negotiating those hairpin bends with just a sheer drop on one side. At one point, we stopped because there was a jam for some reason, and got talking to some truckers. They pointed down, hundreds of feet below at a tiny orange spot - a truck that went down a couple of days earlier. We could just about see some mangled orange metal through the binocs - there was no way the camera would have caught that tiny speck of orange, it was so far below. I wonder what went through that trucker's mind as it fell all those hundreds of feet below.

It was a fairly circumspect climb thereafter - nobody was in the mood for any driving heroics. We came to our first pass - Zojila, where we got some photos, by which time the sun was sinking, and then decided to set up camp at a nice meadow we found a few kilometres ahead.

We finally got the tent up by around 8pm and chilled (literally, because it was biting cold - the temperature was at 9 deg C, though the windchill factor and the fact that it was our first experience of such cold on the trip made it much worse). We spent the night under the stars with Worldspace Radio for a while, then the sound of the mountains and the nearby stream.

zojila pass
our first pass - zojila pass

The occasional truck headlights bouncing off the mountains onto the meadow lent an eerie feel to an otherwise exhilarating night on the mountains, under the milky way which was literally glowing white above us. I've never seen so many stars in my life. Saw the customary shooting stars as well!

our campsite
our campsite

Dinner was delicious - Wai Wai noodles with chunks of ham followed by 5 Stars for dessert!

Highlights: Sonamarg, entering Ladakh, camping out

Downsides: Getting used to the cold
  << | >>
today's route - 129 km
day 9 km odo
Srinagar   183673
46 183719
21 183740
24 183764
Zojila Pass
27 183795
Zojila Army Base
2 183797
Camp Zojila 9 183806
total 129 3312