Day 39, August 22, 2017, Zinzingbar to Sarchu
Distance – 50 kilometres
Duration -11 hours
For Sunita and her companions, today was going to be a day of test as her route today involved crossing
the mighty Baralacha la pass at an altitude of 16,050 feet. Her previous tumultuous experience of
crossing the Rohtang Pass was still fresh in her mind as she mentally braced herself to take on todays
challenge. She had received a lot of advisorys regarding the need to cross the pass before noon as
strong currents in local streams due to the melting snow can get dangerous. It was an uphill 16
kilometre climb to the Baralacha Pass which the cyclists took about 3 hours to cover. On the way they
came across another beautiful and pristine lake- Surajtal but they did not go up to the lake as it involved
taking a detour from the road of a kilometer as time was precious .
Baralacha la is one of the five passes one crosses on the Leh Manali highway- it connects Lahaul district
of Himachal Pradesh to Laddakh of Jammu and Kashmir and is covered with snow year round. There was
nobody and nothing at Baralacha la when the cyclists reached there. They had heard mysterious stories
about the pass where some years back an Army post used to exist .
From Baralucha pass the road was downhill- if at all one could call it a road. The road virtually did not
exist was full of pebbles and it was a treacherous task having to maneuver the cycle through this terrain
and at the same time control the speed down slope. Sunitas bike has narrow tyres and this added to the
woes as the cycle kept getting stuck between the pebbles. The story of the pathetic road continued till
Bhartpur about 8-9 kilometres short of Sarchu.
As Sunita entered Sarchu which is on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir the
terrain was flat and there were beautiful grasslands . The road was smooth and Sunita recalls “There
was no need to pedal- it was like there was no friction and the cycle kept moving . There was a camp site
on either side of the road but I was enjoying this ride so much that I kept going till I reached the last
camp , where I decided to check in”. Jen and Miguel had been left far behind and when they reached
almost an hour later they were having a headache. Sunita took charge and gave them some garlic
water- a sure shot ‘grandmas remedy’ for high altitude sickness. There were some other mobikers too
who benefitted from Sunitas remedy for headaches.
After this Sunita turned her attention to the cycles and spent the rest of the evening tightening the nuts
and bolts of the three cycles and preparing them for the next days ride. Sunita was pleasantly surprised
to find that somebody had left a Friendship band on the handle of Sunitas Cycle – Probably a secret
admirer of Sunita- The band read “Two are better than One”.