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Old 6th March 2011, 13:13   #31
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Awsome travelogue tsk! Telephotos are amazing, kinner kailash peaks are looking truly surreal! Waiting for more.
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Old 7th March 2011, 14:13   #32
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Default To Sangla - Ahoy!

We had a good breakfast since from past experience we knew there would be nothing to eat at Sangla valley,
We also had Hippo Round round. I did not like the "Gujrati chatni or something" taste much.
So it was best to give them to somebody who loved them.

In 2009 when we had come here, there were 2 dogs, a couple at this resort.
Now they had become 6 and living together like a family.

They liked them very much.
The interesting thing was that they all came in turns to get their share.

A few pics of the "snow dogs"
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204791120_zxhymxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204786845_8kbbdxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204788911_wqdxqxl.jpg

It was a little past 11 when we reached the white elephant.
The dash gauge said "2 degree C". even though she had been basking in the sun for over 3 hours.
This meant that the night had been sub zero.

Thankfully first crank and she started. I guess no ice formation in lines.

After a couple minutes the idle had settled down, and we were roaring downhill towards the hell highway, the NH22.

The trees still looked "chirstmasy" after yesterday mornings snowfall
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204340363_ewvh4xl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204340283_fmckrxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204339876_hisutxl.jpg

Post Recong Peo, we came across a mini jam, caused by a truck trying to climb up. It was a very old truck, loaded with diesel, and could not climb up.
So a mini bus driver and passengers got down.

They would place 2 stones behind the trucks rear wheels, the trucker would rev and dump clutch, move forward 5 meters, and then the stone process was repeated.

A pic from the spot. Look at the Sutlej. It lookes like a river. After karcham it becomes a nallah, thanks to the dam.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204666310_yosknxl.jpg

NH22 was same old story. From slush it had become hard caked bumpy mud due to sunshine.
Earlier, after Karcham you were on right bank of river till the shong tong bridge. However, now only a part of the stretch was on right bank as the rest had gone under the waters.
The road cut on left bank is a slush pit, and the road which was already there and still continues as right bank is worse than before.
I guess until all dam work finishes, NH22 will remain hellish.

Dam against the backdrop of snow clad mountains
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204665398_r7i8hxl.jpg
It was almost 1 pm.

Earlier it used to take 1.5 hours to reach sangla from Kalpa. Now its 2.5 hours. With every passing day as our expressways and roads and infrastructure keeps developing, even the traveling time keeps developing.

The road going upto Sangla was scary.
Partially it was due to the sheer cliffs, and the landslides, and partly you can call it due to our past experiences.

Couple of kms before Sangla there was a loud bang, and we realized that Sangla valley still hates us
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Old 7th March 2011, 15:45   #33
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

TSK,

Lovely pics....

Having read so many of your travellouges chasing mountain passes and snow..I'm tempted to bestow upon you the title "HeChasesSnow" based on an old Red Indian custom...

cheers!
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Old 7th March 2011, 18:49   #34
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Default The curse of Sangla?

This was our second trip to Sangla valley.
On our first trip at 5pm I was cleaning the air filter, draining sedimetar and what not. Eventually Tata had to send a tech from Solan.
This time the WE held her ground. No tire bursts, no hiccups, but who can tame the mountain.
And as I navigated through a narrow road section, the loud bang confirmed the worst fears of a tourer.
The mountain was falling.

Seconds later, another big rock falls, smack on the windscreen at passenger side.

I floor the pedal. We have to get out of here!

thankfully, this missile attack sequence was the only one.

Sangla was more like a ghost town with everything closed. We stop, get down, and inspect the damage.
The roof is fine, Superficial scratch on the side.

the windscreen is another matter. There are three "pin point" nicks. I run my fingers inside, thankfully no deformation inside, only there are these nicks on the outside.

She does have a tough hide, including the windscreen.

Nothing much to do here. Its time to move forward towards chitkul.

Many of you who have never been to Sangla recently, may have a very rosy picture, but the fact is that if you want to see a shining example of nature destroyed for progress, visit that place.
the dam has all but ruined anything.

Past few years saw Sangla being heavily marketed.
so the town is a mini concrete jungle.

Even further up resorts and hutments(all closed now) spoil the landscape.

Due to some reason, the hillsides also have less vegetation and baspa is no longer that majestic winding river.

We trudged on, and little after Sangla came across the ultimate obstacle.

Ice on road. Due to sun shining, the snow had packed up, and it was slippery has hell.
I did not have the courage to stop and take pictures, we decided to trudge forward on the narrow road as far as possible.

On the way locals indicated that Rakcham is as far as we could go.
Road to chitkul had been cleared but due to fresh snowfall yesterday, and melting ice, it was now impassable.

Slowly and slowly as we gained altitude, it became clear what they were saying. Even in 4WD every now and then the wheels would spin when they lost traction, and we would stop, reverse and go forward again.

And then there is another loud bag, from inside the car.

Hippo (traditional flat variety) packet explodes. On our ladakh trips, I prepare packets by doing a pin prick, letting out some air, and then resealing them with tape.

So hippo exploding at 3000mts was a surprise.

Anyways, it did make our heart stop for a while!

We cross Rakcham, and then the snow becomes truly impassable.
The front wheels spin and dig in, and rear keeps sliding.
Reverse is a good 100 mts back, and I am not confident to attempt that.

Time to trudge forward, as I spot a turnout 50mts ahead.

With great effort and sliding we reach the turnout, and now its time to take the U turn.
Turning is like turning a overloaded 747.
I turn and give throttle, but she goes in some other direction.
After a 100 point turn, finally we are facing the direction we came from.

Return journey should be easier thanks to downhill, or will it be a mess?

anyways, time to post a pic of the scary Sangla valley.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204673908_eglrqxl.jpg
there is sure a lot of snow, but notice the hillsides on the opposite bank. A true mess if there was one.
The flowers are gone from this one. Perhaps this heavy snowy winter will make them bloom in May again?

We reach an iron bridge, the only uphill section, and then two donkeys jump in front of the WE. Real donkeys, not two legged variety. And I have to stop. Groan!!!!

I knew what was coming next. Anyways, I leave clutch as slowlly as possible, and all I get is slide. Its an icy uphill track, and 4WD or no 4WD, she aint going up without momentum.
Time to reverse a good 10 meters, and try again, slowly.

We climb the bridge, and I take this pic
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204670593_hqgsjxl.jpg


another pic taken later
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204680733_4q3szxl.jpg

As we descend snow lessens, we are going back to Kalpa after getting plummeted.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204675657_g79g7xl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204680401_drxf9xl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204698010_ms67nxl.jpg

You can see the lack of vegetation and the barren landscape. It looks good because of snow. There are a few apple orchards though. Probably when they bloom in May it will look better?
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204685515_cv4whxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204693367_uy7tuxl.jpg

Goodbye Sangla
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204715983_8rkryxl.jpg


But its not easy, is it.
We come to the same section, and this time I have a better view from this side.

Rocks are falling.
big ones, small ones, and they are continuously falling.
I nudge as close as I dare, and start timing them

Between rock fall there are times of peace.
Finding such a window I just floor the pedal and roar through.

Tiny ones still hit, but nothing major. As I said, she has a thick hide.

Its late afternoon, and we are on the hell highway, the NH22 again. Going back to Sangla.
Its been a bad and sunny day. The WD which was supposed to hit on 27th-28th has still not come. Will the sun keep shining?


TO BE CONT.........
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Old 8th March 2011, 11:43   #35
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Default Return to Kalpa - The Brown edition...

So whats brown doing in the white travelogue?
Well, I thought I will dedicate a post to the brown highway. The only brown we saw in the trip
First a pic of the right bank, this is under water now due to new dam at Karcham.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204694108_vzgxzxl.jpg

The Brown road, imagine this in slush
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204696201_nfpafxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204719046_herahxl.jpg

the section where we got stuck. The alto was on the straight harder path, which was slushy last night due to rains in the morning, and we were on the right which was even more slush.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204725378_wpmbxxl.jpg
Another "brown section". Look at the slush to the left. Its very very dry now, I guess a full day of sunshine has done its wonders. But we want rain, and rain was nowhere to be seen. Rain brings snow. Will we go back without snowfall?!
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204743004_va5egxl.jpg

Men at work at a small landslide.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204731432_ay4pwxl.jpg

Finally close to 5pm we were at the Shongtong bridge. After the bridge, the road is better. Hopefully some day black tarmac will run from here?
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204741028_am2ttxl.jpg

and thats the end of brown, and we were on the road to Recong Peo.
At recong peo we decided to buy some peanuts, and soak in the local bazaar, and then it was time for the high road upwards to Kalpa.
But not before we got a kilo of chicken to be cooked for dinner at Kinner Kailash HPTDC

Time for some dash of white?
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204766669_4tphsxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204791156_xfmchxl.jpg

We reach Kalpa town, and I decided to take a different road this time, which goes through kalpa bazaar. GPS shows me there is a road.

Well there is one, no doubt about that, and its snowed out and narrow and very very steep.

I shift to 4L and gently keep proceeding, hoping for a U turn point, the snow walls scrape the foot guards. After half a km we come to a spot where maybe we can reverse with great difficulty.
I decide to stop, and walk the path ahead.

Its snowy and slippery, and walking is difficult, but a 100mts walk reveals that this narrow pathway does indeed merge with the main road!

So slowly and slowly on 1st gear 4L we proceed. Its icy and its steep. Todays experience had told us that ice does not respect 4WD!
Thankfully, sun is down, and there is no melting, just hard freezing ice, and we reach our hotel without much drama.

Its almost dark now
The sky is clear, its a starry night. Normally I love starry nights, but today I want clouds. Reliance GSM GPRS is working at blistering 4.7 kilo bits/second (yes kilo bits) and with great difficulty I download the weather forecast

A fresh WD is expected to hit the region tonight and tomorrow its going to snow. Yay? Or not? Tomorrow will tell.

We have our dinner
and I venture out to see the clouds. There arent any.
There is no moon either.
What the heck, I will take a night shot.
Sorry for poor composition. It was very cold, and I did not have the energy to recompose.

So here comes the only night shot of the trip
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204762597_hbxgvxl.jpg
Its "good night Kalpa" time.
Tomorrow we will head to Narkanda. the trip is coming to an end. People pray for fair weather, but here we are praying for storm and bad weather

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

Last edited by tsk1979 : 8th March 2011 at 11:45.
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Old 8th March 2011, 13:58   #36
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Quote:
Originally Posted by hisunil View Post
Lovely pics Tanveer.
Never been on the Spiti Side, surly a must do, may be next year.

Cheers
Sunil
Its a nice place. Try doing the loop in June, lot of snow in Kunzum at that time
Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Lovely telephoto pics. Picking out smallest of details. How windy was it?
Not very, just random gusts, however, up there it must have been very windy, as the pics show
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskywalker View Post
Awesome snaps Tanveer, those pictures really inspire one to plan snow trips.
thanks luke
Quote:
Originally Posted by g.nox View Post
Awsome travelogue tsk! Telephotos are amazing, kinner kailash peaks are looking truly surreal! Waiting for more.
Thanks g.nox
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Old 8th March 2011, 14:13   #37
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Hmm so the once green nice alpine meadow and valley is a concrete jungle now. I remember the Baspa as a mighty turbulent river falling down the gorge along the road. It used to lend a different character to that road up from karcham. Do they still have that Saffron farm at Sangla? Seems its high time I went there again before the "progress" spoils it all for us the "pilgrims". Next time if you are in a mood for some lonely solitude, try to stay at the forest GH at Shong Tong. A nice small 3 room GH alongside the river, though the entry is by the 3 curve once you enter habitation and is easily missed.
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Old 8th March 2011, 14:28   #38
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

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Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
Hmm so the once green nice alpine meadow and valley is a concrete jungle now. I remember the Baspa as a mighty turbulent river falling down the gorge along the road. It used to lend a different character to that road up from karcham. Do they still have that Saffron farm at Sangla? Seems its high time I went there again before the "progress" spoils it all for us the "pilgrims". Next time if you are in a mood for some lonely solitude, try to stay at the forest GH at Shong Tong. A nice small 3 room GH alongside the river, though the entry is by the 3 curve once you enter habitation and is easily missed.
Karcham to Sangla, the Baspa is a trickle, thanks to the dam. Maybe in monsoons, when they let open the gates you will see the fury again.
As for Sangla, its a concrete jungle. further up ahead you get some decent landscapes, but then, I have seen denser forests on the slopes near manali.
As for shongtong.
The FRH would have been nice in the past, now when its wet the entire area is a mud pit, and when its dry, its a dust storm.
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Old 8th March 2011, 15:06   #39
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Karcham to Sangla, the Baspa is a trickle, thanks to the dam. Maybe in monsoons, when they let open the gates you will see the fury again.
As for Sangla, its a concrete jungle. further up ahead you get some decent landscapes, but then, I have seen denser forests on the slopes near manali.
As for shongtong.
The FRH would have been nice in the past, now when its wet the entire area is a mud pit, and when its dry, its a dust storm.
Agree.. i was there in the last week of December. Was thoroughly disappointed seeing the concrete structures which have sprung up in Sangla Village. The views get better once we cross the Banjara Camp(Cant remember the name of that beautiful village).
We had a planned stay at Chhitkul but had to drop the night stay plan as all the water pipes were frozen and all hotels were closed.

Did you saw the the tubewell at Tapri bus stand throwing out steaming hot water? It was quite a surprise to see..
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Old 8th March 2011, 15:17   #40
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Amazing pics Tanveer and superb place. Your photos are really crystal clear. Esp of Peak and dogs. I thought green is the best color on mountains but your pics proved pure white is none the less hypnotizing.
Pal what is the best time to visit this place?
I really wonder why we Indians think all "Phoren" is beautiful when God has gifted us heaven right at our arms length.
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Old 8th March 2011, 16:53   #41
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

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Originally Posted by recker_us View Post
Agree.. i was there in the last week of December. Was thoroughly disappointed seeing the concrete structures which have sprung up in Sangla Village. The views get better once we cross the Banjara Camp(Cant remember the name of that beautiful village).
We had a planned stay at Chhitkul but had to drop the night stay plan as all the water pipes were frozen and all hotels were closed.

Did you saw the the tubewell at Tapri bus stand throwing out steaming hot water? It was quite a surprise to see..
Nope, did not notice the tubewell.
WE did not stop at Tapri at all
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anandg View Post
Amazing pics Tanveer and superb place. Your photos are really crystal clear. Esp of Peak and dogs. I thought green is the best color on mountains but your pics proved pure white is none the less hypnotizing.
Pal what is the best time to visit this place?
I really wonder why we Indians think all "Phoren" is beautiful when God has gifted us heaven right at our arms length.
If you want to see snow, Feb-March is a good time.
For flowers and apple blooms, May is a good time.
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Old 8th March 2011, 18:13   #42
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Default Goodbye Kalpa, hello Narkanda

The morning was bright sunny and cheerful. Exactly not the way we wanted it.
There were some clouds here and there, but mostly the sun was smiling, or should I say leering?

It was around 10:30am and we were ready for breakfast. 5 hours away narkanda waited.
A shot of the range from the courtyard
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207135206_b9ktpxl.jpg

The dogs were basking in the sun, looking happy. Waiting for more hippos
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207127339_2zfxcxl.jpg

This fellow shared our annoyance with the sun
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207187020_rmbjlxl.jpg

A side pose
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207156306_zha32xl.jpg

this guy was more interested in sleeping on the warm concrete.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207145125_ri34sxl.jpg

We had a heavy breakfast again, as next break would be for dinner, and thanks to hippos, the entire dog family walked us down.

Some cloud buildup had started at the peaks. Will the promised WD come?
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207149419_hyryuxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207142014_avh5kxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207171790_7uwjwxl.jpg

After an hours drive we were on the NH22 again.
A shot from the road
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207167271_w3utkxl.jpg

The old road. Yesterdays water letting out had lowered the level so the old road was no longer submerged
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207183608_w5z4txl.jpg

A lone perched tree. God knows when it will fall and create an hour or more long jam
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207185221_nwyftxl.jpg

As time passed, clouds became gathering more. Maybe it will snow today? Who knows??
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207161404_kzcagxl.jpg

Afternoon, and we are at our nature car wash. Its bright and sunny, unfortunately
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207182549_ixmvdxl.jpg

After rampur I take the old country road to Narkanda instead of highway. Its a steep track going straight up, but decently paved. However, not much scenery to enjoy.
Some clouds are there as we hit Narkanda, but nothing substantial to cause snowfall. Tomorrow we head back. Looks like, this is going to be a dry dry travelogue, with only white being old white.
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207179025_nhtezxl.jpg

We take a room in the hotel Hatu, have a nice dinner, and watch some TV. Now and then I look out, but atleast till midnight there is no sign of snow or anything related. Its been a white travelogue for us, but one devoid of snow?

TO BE CONT..........
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Old 9th March 2011, 12:31   #43
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Default The day of the white

Its 8am in the morning, and I move the curtain to look outside.
What I see forces me to run down.

The snowfall has happened! The clouds are still dark!

Yes, its been a light snow shower!
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207414186_xci8gxl.jpg
But more looks to be on the way. Finally its not just the old white. Its the new white with old white.
The WE looks happy and content.
But the real question is, will she start?
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207305142_v8mpzxl.jpg

I put the ignition to on, and check the temp "1 degree C".
Wait for the heater to go off, and crank.

First crank, and WE is alive. I let her idle for some time.

A view of the scene
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207387277_wz3ymxl.jpg

More views of the forest around. This whiteness is what we had come for!
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207387674_buejcxl.jpg

Since we are a little low on cash, we decide to kill two birds with one stone. We will go to Narkanda to look for an ATM, its just 200 meters away.
The town has woken up, with little snow on road, unfortunately there is no ATM anywhere.

Well time to head back to hotel, get ready, check out and enjoy the snow!
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207318868_dwsbxxl.jpg

A view from the front
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207266572_gq3q8xl.jpg

Our ICE road
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1207305803_v5kxcxl.jpg
I decided to switch to 2WD, and see if she climbs.
As expected, the rear starts swinging around, and we almost smack the railing.
Lesson learned. Never try 4WD 2WD hanky panky on snow.

Shift back to 4 wheels, and we come back to our hotel.

And then

It starts to snow!!!!!!!!..........................

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

Last edited by tsk1979 : 9th March 2011 at 12:33.
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Old 9th March 2011, 22:38   #44
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Quote:
I decided to switch to 2WD, and see if she climbs.
As expected, the rear starts swinging around, and we almost smack the railing.
Lesson learned. Never try 4WD 2WD hanky panky on snow.
How very true my friend ! Ice and snow need more respect than we anticipate.

Nevertheless an excellent log as usual
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Old 10th March 2011, 14:50   #45
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

This log has been a real treat mate. So much fun in the snow, laced with adventures on the sides. Spectacular! It's a shame about the Sangla Valley but even in 2008, I was hugely disappointed by the concrete mess in there. Though I wasn't able to visit Chitkul. :(

And those pupps are cho cho cute.
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