We were forewarned not to halt too long at the Khardung La, in order to avoid ill effects of the rarefied air. The pass has a small canteen run by the Army regiment posted in the area, that sells hot black ‘masala chai’, veg momos and of course, piping hot Maggi. Posters on the wall script the virtues of drinking black tea and eating Maggi !
Travelling across the mountains in our MUV, we were amazed to pass teams of cyclists pedalling up steep gradients in the rarified air laden with their camping gear - including ladies and gents who appeared to be riding on their own. Most of these intrepid cyclists were visiting foreigners. Chatting with them I was amazed to know that some of them have made repeated cycling expeditions to Ladakh.
But Trust the ‘RainMan’. I must share that we received rainfall with all the flash and bang, during our second night in the Nubra valley. It rained so heavily that I woke up in the dark of the night, alarmed if our tent would cave in. I became worried whether roads would get snowed-over, delaying our return to Leh. The weather-proof tent held through the rain and wind. And in the bright blue morning, the only trace of overnight rain was the damp soil and the glistening sheet of fresh snow on the hilltops all around.
This frame taken while returning to Leh from the Nubra valley is another typical topography. The land is hard-baked almost to stone, the ‘rain-bearing’ clouds are surreal, deceptive and the soil erosion is due to water run-off from melting winter snow.