Disclaimer: I have tried to recreate the events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. The below-expressed views, opinions or analogies are personal and may not be in line with the widespread conceptions. Please go to Motorcycle Diaries -> India: Ocean To Mountains (or Click here) to check out the previous events.
Date: 14th August 2016; Route: Leh – Marsimik la
“If everything on earth were rational, nothing would happen.”
That afternoon, I felt like I woke up after 1000 years, we had slept for more than 12 hours last night. We badly needed a break after 15 days of rigorous schedule. As they say, there is nothing that sleep can’t heal, but it was not true in my partner’s case. His health became worse, so he decided to go for medication, take some rest and get acclimatized to the altitude. Since I had never been better, I decided to roam around and see more of Leh.
Where we came from there is enough oxygen to breathe comfortably, but at that altitude, you face quite a lot of troubles if you don’t get used to it pretty fast. The lack of oxygen tires you real quick. The key is to activate your diaphragm and breathe from your abdomen like you do when you jog. This is where prepping up the man comes into the picture. I had focused on my cardio before I started my venture so that when the time arises I should be ready to tackle the situation. I am not sure about Lanisters but hard work always pays its debts.
As I was zeroing in on which place I should visit, I remembered, in Amritsar when my mechanic was narrating his stories, he mentioned a place which sounded something like “Mars-mikhla”. He said, “It’s the highest motorable peak in the Ladakh region”. That made me curious. Since our mobile network was not accessible, there was no way I could track it on Google map. It was my bad that I didn’t download the Google Map’s offline area and there was no place called Mars-mikhla in “HERE” offline map. So I checked with my room boy, a 15-year-old kid, for the directions to Mars-mikhla. He scratched his head at first and after a moment he said: “Oh it’s not Mars-mikhla, its Marsimik La”. I said, “yeah, I said the same”. I acted like a grown up so that he won’t make a fool out of me. The kid was helping his uncle to manage the motel during his vacation. As he was bored with the monotonous work and wanted to enjoy his vacation, he said he wouldn’t mind accompanying me to the place. It was almost 1:30 PM; I asked him how long it would take to reach there. He said it’s around 30 KMs from the motel, which was a piece of cake for me; I could do 30 KMs anytime, anywhere. So we headed out to Marsimik La post lunch.
Though he said only 30 KMs, we had already crossed more than 50 but it didn’t bother me since the roads were great. Things were not the same once we got out of Leh city, the bad roads started haunting us and there was not even a single soul to affirm on the road conditions. After riding for one and a half hour in 1st or 2nd gear, we reached the base of Marsimik La, and that was not it, we still had a long way to go. I saw a guy climbing down the peak. I asked him “how long will it take to climb?” he said, “The roads are really bad, it would take another 2.5 to 3 hours to get to the top”. It was already 4 PM and that was not a regular highway which we could ride in the dark. So the only option was to take a U-turn back to Leh city.
On our way back, we stopped at Thikse monastery but it was already closed. And as always, we didn’t have an option but to ride back to our room. It was 8’ish by the time I reached and I felt my partner was feeling way better than he was after a dose of Diamox. Though it was not a great day, it helped me to get to know more about the people of Leh and get acclimatized to the conditions.
P.S. I will come back for you Mars-mikhla. There is always tomorrow 😉