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Old 23rd June 2010, 13:40   #121
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Excellent narration and superb photographs.
Oh to see that night sky as you described it!!! It will be worth every penny to go to this place.

Now really really waiting for more.

A quick question:
The GPS logs that you have maintained; is it possible for someone to load these into a GPS device and then track the path that you had taken?

Last edited by ptushar : 23rd June 2010 at 13:55. Reason: Needed to ask a question
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Old 23rd June 2010, 14:03   #122
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As long as your software supports gpx loading, why not!
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Old 23rd June 2010, 14:18   #123
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Wow, awesome writeup and superb pics to go with it. I got myself the Fuji HS10 and am longing to get out in to the wilderness to use it. Looks like this year also I wont be able to make it to Ladakh :(
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Old 23rd June 2010, 14:21   #124
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Default Day 9: Into the Wild - Punguk

To NW of Hanle sits the visit of Punguk. Its the last bastion of habitation for today.
We decided to stock up on Centerfresh fruit chewing gums(very popular in Ladakh), and also ask for directions. The road to Punguk is bad, very bad. Its not a road. Its just rocks kept on the surface. Only some places have dirt trails.

Finally I find a local, who first tells me that I should have taken a local guide along. There are tracks going here and there, and I will get lost.
Well I have GPS and Oziexplorer. I paid 40$ for Oziexplorer, twice of what people pay for India maps. I better not get lost. And even if I end up somewhere totally elsewhere, Oziexplorer will allow me to retrace my steps.
So getting lost was a possiblity, since I just had Lat and Lon, but getting totally lost was not a possiblity.
Anyways, he asks me to follow the track, and where I find a plain sort of place, take right. Track will go left, I have to take right branch. He tells me that from time to time there are marker poles on the track, as long as I spot them at periodic intervals, I am on the road to chumur. He also tells me that there is a 10% chance that I will find Chang Pas, and if they have set up their tents, then they will guide me to Nyoma from Kyun Tso. But first, I need to reach Kyun Tso.

Meanwhile GPS tells us, we are 38kms as the crow flies.

Its almost quater to 11, the village is in our past. We are in the Wild
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Far away you see the observatory
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This is our track. I scout for small vehicle tire marks, but find only truck tracks. Made God only knows how many days back
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A Telephoto shot of the Hanle Observatory
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We start on the track. I can't take pics now. Its tricky, its rocky, and its bumpy. After almost getting stuck in the sand, I shift to 4H. No point taking chances, and then waiting for 3 days for that Army supply truck.
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As I drive on, the terrain gets harsher. We are on a dry river bed. The round stones suggest that thousands of years ago, rivers flowed here. All that remains now is a dried up seasonal stream.
There is no village here, no habitation, no human. Just groups of Kiangs stare at us silently, getting scared every time the white elephant revs.
As I slowly progress, even they lose interest, and just stand and stare at this white thing invading their domain making scary sounds. I guess their brains have figured it out that we do not want to eat them.
Still they are cautiously curious.

MEanwhile, I reach an open space kind of river bed area, and a track divulges to the right.
GPS says Kyun Tso is straight ahead, but I decide to take right. Maybe the track will turn left ahead to chumur. Maybe, I this right diversion will keep going parallel to kyun Tso and take a sharp left...?
All is maybe.

The new track is worse, and unfortunately, there are no tire tracks here. The "road" starts climbing a mountain, and soon, we are at the top of a table top mountain, with just the kiangs for company. Drive around and round, we are lost at the top of the table top mountain, with just Kiang's for company.
The altitude is 4700 mts, almost 15400 feet. The engine groans, and the exhaust belchs out black smoke as she struggles for air.
and I.. well I drive around looking for even something remotely indicating a track.

Are we lost?
TO BE CONT.........
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Old 23rd June 2010, 14:26   #125
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wow..are all these shots from the FZ-35. is it a complete D-SLR kinda cam or an advanced P&S ?

Nice log !
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Old 23rd June 2010, 14:31   #126
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulsar56 View Post
The landscape & pictures are getting better and better! I am lost for words now!

waiting for the "Why so" updates...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Torqueguru View Post
Brilliant stuff TSK! I loved the long exposure sky shots.
Very well written travelogue as well. Thanks for sharing this!
Regards,
TG.
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Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Well, those Shudders do send a chill down my spine!
Guess I'll wait till I have a 4x4, high GC beastie of mine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turboholic View Post
While reading and as i type I am getting the feeling which is close to the feeling one gets while watching a Thriller Movie, may be this feeling is even better. (Still breathing heavily)

Truely amazing pics and a writup to match. Super Suff TSK.
Cant wait for more on 'Why So'.

Puff! Puff!

Cheers.
Thanks for your comments. LOG, you better not take your esteem there now. I have heard how you are attracted to SAND.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitk26 View Post
Wow eagerly waiting for Kyon Tso part , Was the morning start only hurdle on white elephent or was there any other surprise ?

Just think of it if Indians civilians were affluent enough in 50s to make 4X4 trips in this area , Nehru would not have said not even a blade of grass grows there and perhaps you would have been able to take one full round of Pongon Tso in 2010.
Politicians say a lot of things
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Originally Posted by royalcruiser View Post
Wow, awesome writeup and superb pics to go with it. I got myself the Fuji HS10 and am longing to get out in to the wilderness to use it. Looks like this year also I wont be able to make it to Ladakh :(
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Originally Posted by s3va View Post
wow..are all these shots from the FZ-35. is it a complete D-SLR kinda cam or an advanced P&S ?

Nice log !
Thanks. FZ-35 is an advanced P&S. I used it for telephoto. All wide shots with 350D and Tamron 10-24 Lens.
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Old 23rd June 2010, 15:12   #127
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Default Day 9: Into the Wild - Lost on a Table Top Mountain

We were lost. The "track" was going parallel. I zoomed out on the GPS, and saw that even if this track went to Kyun Tso after going parallel to entire range, it will take 80kms+. Surely, this was wrong.
But turning back was not an issue. We were logging our trail. Still, I decided to drive around.
It was a nice place for video


A video of the Kiang


Were we the first humans here. Well no, we weren't. A tribal structure was proof of that. Maybe in July, the ChangPa nomads pass here. But where do they go?
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A curious Kiang
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The landscape
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Remember the song "The loneliness of a long distance runner by Maiden?"
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Well this was loneliness at its best. We decided to not turn back, and proceed for some time. Lets explore this. There was not track, no tire marks, just a section of the terrain which was motorable(barely).
Soon we came to THE END. A gully on the way. I tried sideways, frontal, backwards, everything, but it was too deep.
This was not the track to Kyun Tso. We will have to retrace our steps. 30 minutes wasted here
Final goodbye to the Kiangs, as the Australians guided us to the fork
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TO BE CONT........
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Old 23rd June 2010, 15:39   #128
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Default Day 9: Into the Wild - Kyun Tso!!

Thanks to Uncle Sam, we arrived back at the Fork without any issues. Time to follow the Chumur track. At periodic intervals, there were iron "poles" marking the track. Very useful, I must say. Esp at such places.
Meanwhile GPS was telling us we are heading in the right direction. The distance slowly and steadily kept dropping.
We were getting near.
However, we had to reach Leh today, and there was a possibility that the track from the Tso to Nyoma was closed. So to make quick time, no photography.
Just slow agonizing driving.
I guess when I have some videos ready, I will post them.
Imaging a sandy dirt track, which goes down, and at the start of the climb becomes sand and rocky.
Entire sections were like that, and I had to use 4L for control.

Another worry was the tires. I had AT tires, but a sharp rock can take out any AT tire. Thankfully, the continentals have hard sidewalls, and slime gave us added confidence.

Slowly but steadily we were approacing.
10 kms remaining, and the track gets even worse.

finally a km away, the track went left. But unlike what the guy had said, there was no track going right. Only left. I could clearly see that the chumur track went the opposite way.
We would have to take the hard way out.


Of the track, and onto the desert sand we go.
Thankfully there was grass for traction, and slowly we went as the crow flies. Soon we merged with a "track". Thank the gods!

500 meters now, 400 meters..... And then suddenly, we see the sight which takes our breath away.

Kyun Tso!!!!!!!!! And it is Frozen!!!!
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Old 23rd June 2010, 16:06   #129
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
LOG, you better not take your esteem there now. I have heard how you are attracted to SAND.


Yeah ain't taking the Esteem in there for sure! But quite frankly don't wanna do the typical Leh-Ladakh (except Pangong & Moriri) circuits again and am raging to explore the virgin areas of Ladakh.

About SAND, I don't know why it attracts me so much and I'm always dumb enough to be lured into the trap.

EDIT: Ah, finally a view of Kyon Tso! From a distance, it does look a lot like Kaigar Tso, except it's smaller I guess. Wotsay?

Last edited by lordofgondor : 23rd June 2010 at 16:14.
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Old 23rd June 2010, 16:06   #130
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
At periodic intervals, there were iron "poles" marking the track. Very useful, I must say. Esp at such places.
Meanwhile GPS was telling us we are heading in the right direction. The distance slowly and steadily kept dropping.
Maybe I missed something, but was this route marked in any of the maps, or was the route charted out in OSM? Where did you get the GPS route from - your last year's trip?
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Old 23rd June 2010, 16:23   #131
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Default Day 9: Into the Wild - Kyun Tso - And the mystery

The time is 1330 hours, the sun is high. And its cold. Biting cold. Even with engine heat the temp sensor tells me 5 degree C. After all we are at 5012 meters above sea level. That translates to 16443 feet above sea level. This is the height of high mountain passes, and here we are, probably at one of the highest flat plains in the world.

Kyun Tso is in front of us. But wait a minute. The satellite images showed me 2 lakes. The Twin Lakes of Kyun Tso, one salty, one Sweet.
There is only one lake here.
Where is the other one.....? Well we will find that out later. For now, its us, the white elephant, and the lake called Kyun Tso.

The track is sandy, and I have no intentions on getting off the track, as the terrain is very very sandy.
Time to take a walk.
The blue lake beckons
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The white elephant is left behind
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The water shimmer, as if enchanted. This is true wilderness. Just us and the biting cold winds. Its June, the month when the plains of North India are roasted by the Sun. But not here. You can get sunburn here, but you won't get a heat stroke. Thankfully, the sunscreen is holding!

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Time to put up a video I guess


The lake is as exotic as it gets. Its so cold at the shores! I reckon close to 0, and that too with the sun shining!
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Though the skies are clear towards the west, behind us we hear a rumble. A dark black could is gathering over the mountain, and looks like we will be pounded by some hard snowfall. At this altitude, weather changes every minute.
We decide to scoot
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The white elephant and the Kyun Tso..
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However, the mystery is pending, where is the other lake. Behind this hill? GPS says NE. Well track goes northwards. We drive on, and then all of a sudden...
Kyun Tso 2 !!!!!
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TO BE CONT..........
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Old 23rd June 2010, 16:28   #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post


Yeah ain't taking the Esteem in there for sure! But quite frankly don't wanna do the typical Leh-Ladakh (except Pangong & Moriri) circuits again and am raging to explore the virgin areas of Ladakh.

About SAND, I don't know why it attracts me so much and I'm always dumb enough to be lured into the trap.

EDIT: Ah, finally a view of Kyon Tso! From a distance, it does look a lot like Kaigar Tso, except it's smaller I guess. Wotsay?
Yup! It does look like Kiagar Tso. But there is only one Kiagar Tso, and 2 Kyun Tso, Imagine, when both these lakes were one, it was as big as the Tso Moriri! Now two exotic small lakes remain
Quote:
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Maybe I missed something, but was this route marked in any of the maps, or was the route charted out in OSM? Where did you get the GPS route from - your last year's trip?
No, there is no route mapped anywhere. All I know were the GPS coordinates. I got these by zooming in on satellite images, and then creating a placemark in google earth.
Oziexplorer has an option where you navigate to a Lat Lon location. So from Hanle, it drew a straight line as the crow flies to Kyun Tso, telling me 39kms as the crow flies.
I just followed the track(you cannot go off the track, not motorable) and hoped it was going to Kyun Tso.
However, I intend to map this in OSM now.
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Old 23rd June 2010, 18:40   #133
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Default Day 9: Into the Wild - Kyun Tso 2!

Kyun Tso 2. Its not frozen, and its far far away from the track! Probably, this is the Salty one
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I turn towards the lake, and start driving, and then the white elephant starts sinking in
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Time to scoot again, the whole area is quicksandish, we park the safari, and start walking
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As we walk, our feet are sinking in. The clouds coming, its getting colder and windier!
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The parched area. Its so soft and spongy!. ITs difficult to walk
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We decide not to go till the lake shore. This lake is a little sad. Small, almost dried up. Maybe, if it rains heavily this monsoon(which usually ignored ladakh), this lake will have more water
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Meanwhile temperatures are falling. Its almost 2pm. We are now around 5050 mts above sea level, and for more than an hour we have been above 5000. In the cold weather, with a storm coming, we have to make photography quick.
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Time to move on. Too bad, we could not spend much time here. But now it seems like 0 degrees, my hands are frozen, and the rarified air at this altitude makes even walking difficult. Remember, from the past few hours we have been around 4600+ and past hour has been at 5000+. And the track is still climbing. I spy a mountain range in the front. Looks like a mountain pass approaching
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But its hard, hard to ignore the lake. Its so out of this world!
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Near the pass we come to that magical location, where we see both the lakes
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Its the last glimpse of the twin lakes of Kyun Tso
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Time is 1410 now, and this means 2 hours above 5000mts! Good we spend the night in Hanle at 4200.

We reach the mountain Pass. Its an Unnamed La. Lets call it White Elephant La?
Altitude 5119 meters above sea level.
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Time for descend, and this is the troubled Nidar Kyun Tso highway
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Last year rains had blocked it
What about this year. If this is blocked, its a 4 hour bumpy long ride to Hanle! And we won't complete the loop!
Calculations...Kyun Tso to hanle should be around 55kms, no problems on fuel front.... But time, its another issue.
But for now we march on, the road is clear, till now
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The track is well defined, and Nidar is waiting. Only 20kms as the crow flies.

TO BE CONT.........

Last edited by tsk1979 : 23rd June 2010 at 18:42.
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Old 23rd June 2010, 20:31   #134
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As long as your software supports gpx loading, why not!
Hi,
Superb. Esp. the drive to Kyon Tso. One would not have thought it possible to be an explorer in 21st century overcrowded India!

Have you uploaded these tracks to OSM? If not OSM, then where can we get them? Also what about the Marsimik La track from last year?

Regards
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Old 23rd June 2010, 22:48   #135
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Some of the compositions are mindblowing. gr8 log tsk...

The perspective distortion becomes quite evident when wide angle is used to shoot your white elephant along with landscape. Trying to relate the theory I keep reading with the snaps here. I am yet to buy my first DSLR.
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