“There is a mouse in my shoe! ”
“Why didn’t it say ‘peep’ when I went into my shoe?”
“I killed a mouse…..”
I look disappointed at my shoe. A little flat grey fur is all I see. Steven looks at my sad face and he gives the mouse a beautiful place in the Himalaya’s to rest in piece. This was a very smart little mouse, who found himself a nice and warm bed to sleep, but he didn’t see my foot coming. Today he travelled in my bike bag along dry rocks, small roads and a beautiful crystal clear river.
In one of the dhabas we order some noodles. Soon a man comes running to us with a huge pot in his hand filled to the rim with noodles. In the mood for something warm we start eating enthusiastically. We enjoy the meal, but we can’t manage to reach the bottom. We make sure all our bottles are filled again and we start paddling along a very clear river with a beautiful blue colour. The road goes downhill and we have to cross the river. Just before the bridge I stop. Only a few old wooden beams, which are almost falling apart have to take us to the other side. In the tarmac before the bridge there is a big hole. When I look down trough the hole I can see the water running. Do I survive this bridge? A truck is coming towards us with a high speed and brakes before the bridge. Without any doubt it rolls his wheels to the other side of the water and moves on. If the truck is able to make it so will we…..
We are looking to the left and to the right in the hope to find a decent spot for the tent. There are many flat places, but we have to find water so we can cook and filter water for the next day. Close to a bridge we walk into the field and we find a beautiful place for our tent. Steven fills two bags of water at the river. This is enough to filter and to have a very refreshing shower.
When we leave the tent in the middle of the night, we are amazed by all the stars shining in the sky. This many stars we only saw a few times before. It was in the desert of Pakistan and in the outback of Australia. After a good breakfast of muesli with figs and raisins we are ready for the next part. Today we start at 4000 meter high and the first kilometers are flat. Mountain goats are walking on the rocks next to the road and then we see a sign which tells us we are going to start the Gata Loops. Twenty-one curves are waiting for us. The higher we get the better the views are getting. The curves in the road are almost incredible and we try to reach the end. My legs feel very soar and I have to stop often to get my breath. We can really feel that we are at a high altitude now and because we still don’t see the top we decide to treat ourselves with a good lunch. While we are having our picnic, the passing truckers are all waving at us. A car stops to ask if we are okay. We ask them for a bottle of water and they give us some crackers as well. It’s amazing how much water we drink. We started this morning with more than 9 liters and at lunchtime it’s almost gone.
With some new energy in our legs we start climbing again towards the Nakeela Pass at an altitude of 4740 meter. The prayer flags are blowing in the wind at the top. From here we are looking at a beautiful valley where we can see a few white tents. When we look further we see the next pass waiting for us. A nice descent is not what we get, the road is bad and we have to be careful every second.
When we reach the dhabas we drink a cup of tea with two Belgium motor drivers. We ask the Tibetan owner if we can put up our tent behind his restaurant and he is okay with it. Slowly we pitch up our tent and soon I fall a sleep.
A good night of sleep does miracles and the next day we start our way to the top. The ascent to the Lachung La goes very slowly and after a few big curves we are standing between the prayer flags just above the 5000 meters. The moment we want to celebrate our highest point so far Stevens stomach starts to ache badly. He can’t enjoy the beautiful descent that follows. The road is one full of potholes and bumps, and we are surrounded by big rocks which form a gorge. It starts with a little stream of water and soon it transforms in a boosting river. We are on our way to the tent camp of Pang to pitch up our tent so Steven can have a recovering sleep. But after some momos , noodle soup and a coke Stevens stomach seems fine and we decide to paddle a little further. We start another curvy climb. It´s difficult to find a good spot for the tent and so we end up at the Morey Plains, at an altitude of 4900 meter.
We cycle a bit further until we reach a camp of road workers where we put up our tent. The guys don´t mind the fact that we are joining them and the moment we start cooking they come to us to have a look. A radio brings an end to the silence in the mountains. With a Hindi song on the background we fall asleep in the heavenly Himalayas……..
6km after Barlacha La – 20 km after Sarchu (altitude 4622 m) : 42 km
20 km after Sarchu – between Nakeela Pas and LachungLa (altitude 4817 m): 29 km
Between the two passes – Morey Plains( altitude 4931 m) : 42 km