|23rd June 2010, 13:40||#121|
Join Date: Sep 2007
Thanked: 253 Times
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
|23rd June 2010, 14:18||#123|
Join Date: Jun 2009
Thanked: 53 Times
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 :(
|23rd June 2010, 14:21||#124|
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
Far away you see the observatory
This is our track. I scout for small vehicle tire marks, but find only truck tracks. Made God only knows how many days back
A Telephoto shot of the Hanle Observatory
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.
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.........
|23rd June 2010, 14:31||#126|
|23rd June 2010, 15:12||#127|
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?
A curious Kiang
Remember the song "The loneliness of a long distance runner by Maiden?"
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
TO BE CONT........
|23rd June 2010, 15:39||#128|
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!!!!
|23rd June 2010, 16:06||#129|
Join Date: May 2007
Location: UP 16
Thanked: 156 Times
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.
|23rd June 2010, 16:06||#130|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Nov 2006
Thanked: 3,404 Times
|23rd June 2010, 16:23||#131|
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
The white elephant is left behind
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!
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!
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
The white elephant and the Kyun Tso..
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 !!!!!
TO BE CONT..........
|23rd June 2010, 16:28||#132|
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.
|23rd June 2010, 18:40||#133|
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
I turn towards the lake, and start driving, and then the white elephant starts sinking in
Time to scoot again, the whole area is quicksandish, we park the safari, and start walking
As we walk, our feet are sinking in. The clouds coming, its getting colder and windier!
The parched area. Its so soft and spongy!. ITs difficult to walk
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
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.
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
But its hard, hard to ignore the lake. Its so out of this world!
Near the pass we come to that magical location, where we see both the lakes
Its the last glimpse of the twin lakes of Kyun Tso
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.
Time for descend, and this is the troubled Nidar Kyun Tso highway
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
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.
|23rd June 2010, 20:31||#134|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Jul 2009
Thanked: 5,053 Times
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?
|23rd June 2010, 22:48||#135|
Join Date: Jun 2005
Thanked: 75 Times
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.