Kevin Swains
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This is Kev's Travel Blog

Shimla/Kinnaur 2

Got my 7-day permit for the restricted border areas. The permits are mere formality but keep nosy backpackers from sticking their nose where it’s not wanted or from straying too far afield.

After an initial sweeping downhill from Kalpa the road would begin to climb steadily for the next two weeks.

Nako Village

The traditional village of Nako (3663m)
This area is called the cold derssert because it recieves snow in the winter but is extremely dry in the summer. Now it’s anything but cold. They hills are slowly sloping skywards giving almost zero shade on the road. My water warms quickly in my bottles and tastes awful with the chlorine drops inside, but at least it should be safe to drink!

I cycled along without my helmet because of the heat. I pass two Indian guys who seem to look at me strangely and then ride over a rope across the road with red flags attached. I then noticed red flags on poles along the road. I simply assumed it meant be careful of the rock fall area and carried on. Then a few metres in the front of me a small rock fell down onto the road and I quickly pulled into a small rock overhang. As I did huge boulders started to fall where I would have been cycling! I nearly shit my pants and grabbed my helmet immediately from the back of my bike. I waited and then peddled as fast as my little legs would allow. A few Indians started running towards me blowing wistles and waving their arms around. I looked behind to see the falling rocks were part of a new road being built above the old one and were being thrown down. The 2 Indian guys I passed a few minutes ago were supposed to be watching the traffic, safety police kind of. But this is India and a man needs a chai when a man needs a chai!

Anyway.... pressed on to Pooh, a little visited town perched on the side of the hill with great valley views. I couldn’t help but think that with a name like Pooh that it should be the capital of India!

Changing faces

Changing faces along the Chinese border
Planned to do an easy 40ish km upto Nako Lake, which I assumed must be amazing seeing as it was signposted along the roadside for miles. The first 10km were easy slowly climbing against the river flow. Then the road suddenly started to climb in hard going switchbacks. Suddenly I’m in the open with vertually zero shade. I didn’t expect climbing like this yet. I carry on regardless but soon my water stocks are nearly out. It’s the first time I can’t find a stream or a well/pump at the side of the road. I very quickly start to dehydrate and seek shade where I can find it. This is often crouching tightly against a rock with only one foot of shade. I can’t believe this. I only need to cycle 34km to the next town and I’m totally knackered! A lesson to be learned I think.
Eventually I reach Yangthang, a really crappy town designed only for passing trucks and the increasing tourist trade waiting for busses upto Nako Lake. I collapse into a restaurant and eat and drink rehydration salts for 2hrs then do even more switchback riding to Nako.

Lunch Time

Chow time with a view above Nako village.
In the morning I walk to the Lake....what a shit hole!
If there’s ever been a tourist rip off then this is it. A small pond a little bigger than the average Australian backyard swimming pool....and of course it's a little unclean!
Naa mind I said! Nako is at 3662m and is a good place for acclimitising, so I pack my rucksack and head off up the mountains to the distant chortens. I actually have to
cary the bike most of the way!
The views from the top are stpensous but I can feel the altitude. I set off on a small path travering the hill. Any little rise in the path has me gasping for breath and I’m only around 4000m
I rest and make some 2 minute noodles and after decide to reluctantly head back down. I’m nauseus and am struggling to concentrate.
At least the downhill is awesome. The adreniline is pumping and I ride stuff I never normally ride. It’s been a good day!
I sit on the balcony and watch the storms in the distance pass over the mountains.

Distant Storm

Mountain storms in the distance.
Hillside Temple