Winter Drive - Spiti - February 2019 - A Self-Invited Lockdown


Thread Starter #1
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We, 5 Gurkha owners, undertook a snow drive to Spiti valley last year in late February. I had always wished to share it with interested persons, however, couldn’t do so due to work pressures and simply due to procrastination. Our expedition was also a sort of lockdown, and I guess it took another lockdown to act as reminiscent for me to write about our winter drive. So here it is, our self invited lockdown when 11 of us were stuck at Shego village, 9 kms from Kaza in Spiti valley in February 2019.

All 5 of were Gurkha owners and were already connected through Whats app group. So it was quite easy to coordinate, the only issue was availability of leaves and snow. Nature has been bountiful last year and there was plenty of snow, so now only second issue of leaves was remaining and thankfully that proved to be a major issue only for me. So the date of departure was started as 17.02.2019, Sunday from Chandigarh and only issue of time availability was with me. I wasn’t sure till 5 pm a day before and when leaves were approved, Gurkha suffered a major puncture, leaving me in doubts about capacity of tyre to handle tough terrains offered by Spiti valley. Already the spare tyre was one with tube as it also suffered from a terrible puncture while being tubeless, so the jugaad was done with tube installed and keeping it spare and just to be used in case of emergency. Still mentally prepared myself to take on the challenge and reached Chandigarh by 9 pm for an early start tomorrow.

Preparations:
Practically nothing other than Yokohama Geolander AT equipped Gurkha and a tow rope.
Due to time scarcity, couldn't even pack properly and due to puncture en-route Chandigarh,can't even purchase specialized snow clothing though had packed plenty of winter thermals and pure wool socks which proved to be a blessing later.
Just had high spirits and a great company of fellow Gurkha owners.
Our team was taking one Force Motors mechanic and electrician along with though.


Culprit Nail
Let’s start the journey:

Day 0: Only highlight was that I was able to reach Chandigarh, facing a puncture enroute.
20190216_193237.jpg

The Culprit Mega Nail

Day 1: Sunday 18.02.2019
Chandigarh to Rampur with late lunch at Narkanda


Started around 8 am from Chandigarh after having breakfast. This drive was routine for me as I had worked in Shimla for a good five years. We had brief stop at Shimla before an extended stop for lunch at Hotel Hatu in Narkanda. We also encountered first major snow at Narkanda. It took almost a couple of hours for lunch as the service was constrained due to extreme winters and rush at restaurant. Other dhabhas at Narkanda market were already closed since it snowed heavily a couple of days ago.
20190217_075550~4.jpg

Our Group, yours truly on extreme left, also my Gurkha is on extreme left

20190217_134408.jpg

Met a couple of Gurkhas at Kufri which were returning from Nako. A lady from Pune was driving Solo, while other was back up.

Driving up from Main Market of Narkanda town to the parking lot of Hotel Hatu, hardly a distance of 600 m was in itself an adventure as a snow cutter was working and crossing it on narrow road gave us the first taste of adventure ahead.
20190217_161046.jpg

Snow covered parking of Hotel Hatu, Narkanda

Since the plan was to stay at Rampur, as it was the only place where we can stay in hotel, so the drive was quite relaxed and we reached there almost by sunset.
Total Distance Covered: 240 kms
Drive Time: 8 hours


Day 2 : Rampur to Spillow
Original plan was to drive upto Shego village near Kaza, but came across the bad news that a huge land slide has taken place just after Nathpa on the main Hindustan – Tibet highway. So we started late in hope that landslide will be cleared by the time we reach there. However, it was such a mammoth landslide that it could be cleared only around 6 pm and it was already dark by then. It was also raining making it more difficult to drive. So, we had to cut short our plans and stayed at a rest house in Spillow. Encountered black ice near Ribba and slush in many areas as this road is prone to landslides and rain had made it worse.
20190218_145513.jpg

Landslide just after Nathpa

Total Distance Covered: 130 kms
Drive Time: 4 hours
Time Wasted due to landslides: 8 hours


Day 3: Spillow to Shego (Kaza)
Starting diesel vehicles in extreme cold is quite an art in itself and here we encountered our first brushes while starting Gurkhas in morning. All 5 were parked in open skies completely exposed to wind as well. Almost all faced troubles in starting in morning, temperature was almost sub-zero here. Other diesel vehicles were also having issues as well.


20190219_072910.jpg

Got up to a spectacular morning view at Spillow


After having a heavy breakfast, we left spillow by 9 am. There was a notorious Tinku nallah just about 20 kms from Spillow. During summers it floods the road and during winters at times it leads to avalanches. And since we were already proving unlucky for almost third day in a row, so I was not having a good feeling. We first crossed a glacier easily and I thought we had crossed Tinku Nallah, only to realized after a couple of turns that it was some other glacier and Tinku Nallah was further ahead. And to prove our worst fears true, an avalanche had already taken place here just before we reached. I was cursing late start of 9 am, since I knew its importance before hand. Such delays are bound to happen when you move in a group though. So to make good use of available time, while Glacier was being cleared, we found a dirt track to the river course and drove our vehicles there. First taste of proper off-road in the trip so far.
20190219_115758.jpg

All 5 Gurkhas parked on the banks of mighty Sutlej and our little picnic underway

While we were enjoying our little picnic, there occurred avalanche in glacier which we had crossed earlier. It was quite a view and breathtaking experience watching avalanche so close and for real. Now we were grandly stuck as snow cutting machinery from Spillow had first to clear this glacier and only then, it will be able to clear main Tinku glacier. There was only a JCB working at Tinku glacier, which wasn’t enough to clear the four story ice wall that had encroached upon the road. Another mishap happened here just earlier, when JCB ran dry and one Gurkha of our convoy had gone there to give JCB extra diesel from its Jerry Can. On return, its tire had burst due to a sharp rock, thus jeopardising further our chances of steady progress. Finally heavy earth moving machinery was able to clear the glacier at back and made it to main avalanche site by around 5 pm. With two such machines working from both sides in tandem, one had reached down from Pooh on other side, we were able to start around 7 pm.

20190219_123353.jpg

**** Happens.... : Well Avalanche happened for us

20190219_150218.jpg

See the amount of snow that needed to be cleared

Now we had to decide where to stay, only possible stay option was at Pooh itself, though that would have made us to wait for another day for making it to Kaza. Since we had booking arrangements made with a trusted home stay owner at Shego, near Kaza, so group decided to go for it, while I was not willing to drive at night on roads infested with Black Ice had to concur with the group. Thankfully, it was a full moon night and we managed to reach Shego village at around 1 am. Rescued a couple of vehicles enroute which were moving alone. Moving in a group/ convoy is always helpful in such extreme areas. Post Tabo, snow had covered road completely and there were large swathes of open glaciers as well. Just around Nako it looked magical with full moon. The dreaded Malling Nallah was totally frozen.
Here at Shego hot food and warm bedding awaited for us. Homestay was made in traditional Spiti style though it was a modern version of old mud houses which are found in this valley. Heating mechanism was quite ingenuine, a Bukhari (type of stove) was used to cook and heat the kitchen on ground floor while the exhaust fumes of the same were used to heat room on first floor, where 8 of us were staying. Outside temperature was around -31◦ C, but inside was quite cozy and I was amazed to see that these Spitians were making merry in the middle of winter with chill comparable to polar areas. We kept our Gurkhas running through out night to save trouble from starting those in morning in such cold temperatures. Also, all 5 Gurkhas were covered in heavy duty tarpaulin sheets to protect fuel from freezing in cold temperatures.
20190220_012800.jpg

Traditional Bukhari/ Stove at our Shego homestay

Due to peculiar nature of diesel fuel, starting diesel vehicles in sub-zero temperatures is an art in itself and we had to master it soon as there was no escaping from it. Since diesel tends to gel in sub-zero temperatures, it almost becomes grease-like, so it’s impossible to start diesel vehicles without additives and these too fail in these extreme temperatures. One friend had brought a german made anti-gelling liquid, which itself had frozen. We considered ourselves lucky that we were driving Gurkha which had old but prove technology and could withstand what it had to go through for starting on other days.

Total Distance covered: 160 kms
Time taken: 7 hours



Day 4 : Fun around Kaza
Let the fun be described by pics themselves

20190220_095021.jpg

Gelled Diesel in Jerry Can


20190220_112131.jpg

Our group in Kaza, this time I am standing on extreme right


20190220_114101.jpg

Moving in tons of Snow around Kaza



20190220_114603.jpg

And there was plenty of snow all around. Even the Spiti River had mostly frozen

20190220_121857.jpg

Chortens at Kaza


We got fuel tanks filled at Kaza and then ventured 15-20 kms towards Losar side until we were blocked by almost 4 feet of snow wall.

Stay hooked for further adventure. Travelogue will be continued
 

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350Z

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Fantastic travelogue. With ongoing lockdown and summers around, this is exactly the kind of travelogue we needed to refresh. It’s also not often I find a travelogue with Gurkha (in this case not one, but five!). Please resume further with loads of images. Do consider updating your Gurkha's Ownership Review as well. [thumbsup]

Drive Safe,
350Z
 
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Wow, what an experience it must have been. First the land itself and then driving there in such tough terrain and conditions. Amazing pics too! Now waiting eagerly for the remaining travelogue. [:)]
 
Thread Starter #5
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Let us continue the travelogue, sorry for the delay

Day 4 : Around Kaza contd...
As mentioned previously, that we tried to venture towards Losar side and here after about 15 kms we were forced to turn back. Well I would like to share about the performance of Gurkha in snow drive here. 4x4 high was engaged through out on snow covered surfaces. 4 out of 5 Gurkhas were equipped with Yokohama Geolander AT with a higher size of 265/70 R16 from normal and 5th one also had some good AT tires with similar size. Such a set up can easily glide over a feet of snow, can manage a coupole of feet, but anything around 3 or higher is a trouble. We never used snow chains till now, only close to the end of our struggle against snow covered road, we installed snow chains on one of our Gurkha, which was equipped with a metal bumper in place of normal fibre one. But against almost 3 feet of snow, it also gave up soon.


20190220_131246.jpg

Mesmerizing vistas beyond Kaza
20190220_131246.jpg


20190220_131349.jpg

Our Group following trail in snow


20190220_140829.jpg

As GOT final season was just about to be released, it looked just like areas beyond the wall and the winter was very much there


20190220_141811~2.jpg

Couldn't go any further from here



20190220_142143~2.jpg

You can see there is just a foot trail from here, no signs of road towards Manali



20190220_151236.jpg

My Iron Horse in snowbound areas


My take on Gurkha in snow: For rest of the areas, our Gurkhas equipped with AT tires performed flawlessly over snow even on the steepest of slopes.

Advice for others going for Snow Drive: So for any one venturing for a snow drive, should have a for a 4x4 vehicle equipped with some good AT tires. Snow chains can be helpful, but in first place a good pair of winter tires (AT) and a 4x4 vehicle is a must. Gurkha has an old style Part Time 4WD system and I am sure for vehicles with similar setup will do good in these environments, not so sure about performance of modern AWD systems since they are dependent on electronic sensors and in these low temperatures, most give up.

On return we stopped for some time at Kaza market, almost all hotels were closed as water cannot be made running in conventional concrete based hotels during winters here, so they shut down for winters. During winters, tourists can stay only in home stays in Kaza.

Kaza town has a small market still operational and an SBI branch was operational here as well. May be that also has a distinction of highest bank branch in the world just like the petrol station of Kaza.
 
Thread Starter #6
Joined
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Location
SHIMLA
Day 5: Self Invited Lock down
It was snowing heavily in the morning. First things first, and here the issue was to start our vehicles. Surprisingly, for those who haven’t experienced snow, it is quite easy to start vehicles when its snowing in comparison to open skies. So we could get these started after deluging fuel filter with a bottle of hot water.

20190221_075051.jpg

Good Morning: We were greeted to a view all our Gurkhas covered in almost a feet of snow

Most in my group were quite eager to have adventure in live snowfall and were eager to head out towards Kaza and may be reach some nearby Monsatery. But I had already my cup of snow fun full as I lived in Shimla for a good 5 years, and from experience I believed in a pahadi adage – “Barkha aaye to Chupo aur Barf aaye to Bhago” meaning that in hills its better to take shelter while it is raining and to run away to lower areas in case of snow. I advised them to head down to Tabo/ Pooh as we already had our fun in snow yesterday. But well they wanted to have more fun and decided to go to Kaza Helipad and have fund in snow field there.



20190221_123052.jpg

Four of our vehicles ready for the snow challenge, while I waited at Shego
20190221_123457.jpg

No trace of road/ path left at our homestay due to overnight snow and it was still overcast when they ventured out

So willingly they left the warmth of Shego to venture out in Kaza, while it was still snowing heavily. It continued to snow through out the day and while my friends were returning from Kaza around 3 pm, they got stuck due to an avalanche just about 2 kms from Shego, our homestay.

Fears turn true: I received a phone call from them about this and they told me that it was a short obstruction and in case a couple of feet wide road is cleared they can come to Shego. So, I tried to rescue them with home stay owner and fellow villagers thinking that we could clear that much of snow. Somehow cramped 11 of us in Gurkha, which is just a five seater and that too with snow shovels. But in place of being able to clear them, we ourselves got stuck in snow enroute. We could return safely thanks to the tenacity of both the vehicle and the 11 rugged Spitians and me driving in tonnes of snow.

20190221_164409.jpg

Only pic from our failed rescue mission. You can observe the enormous quantity of snow and its blinding effect, while tough Spitians were working hard to get our vehicle out of Snow
As a result, 5 of my group were stuck in Kaza along with 4 Gurkhas and a mechanic while 4 of them walked back to homestay in Shego. From here on, the lockdown experience started, as even I could not return back home as entire road upto Nako was blocked due to excessive snow.

20190221_154031.jpg

Spot the Handpump

20190221_154209.jpg

Shego village was completely snow bound. And there was a striking difference in the type of snow here and in Shimla/ Manali. While the snow in Shimla/ Manali is of wet type and consequently on heavier side, the snow in Spiti was like finest cotton flakes, extremely light and fluffy

For full four days they were stuck in Kaza, while we waited at Shego for roads to clear. I tried all my contacts in PWD, District Administration Kaza and State Government for road clearance, however, progress was very little. I also tried with my contacts in Army, Air Force and BRO but all informed that no progress could be made until weather permits. Every day my friends in Kaza used to visit PWD office in Kaza and asked them about road clearance and then Bull Dozers were driven to avalanche site. Still little progress was being made. And on the other hand, there was no information available about the progress from Tabo side in road clearance.

When all hopes had died, on the 4th day of lock down, around 8 pm, my friends were able to return back from Kaza. It was quite a feeling of jubilation to see them around. And friends, if 5 Gurkhas were a rarity for you, they also brought another person who was driving a single Gurkha with some friends.

Comparison with Current Lockdown
Comparing with the current lockdown, it was quite a disturbing experience.

Firstly, only 11 of us were stuck, there was this uncertainty that while the rest of the world is moving on as usual, we were stuck there for an uncertain length of time. Now, unfortunately, all of us are grandly stuck.

Secondly, we were away from the comfort of our families, unlike at present. Even a majority of our group was stuck in Kaza without any facilities, as hotels in Kaza close down in winters, so they could only manage one hotel to open kitchen area and were all lodged there in extreme cold. Had we been together we could have at least assured company.

Thirdly, believe me my fellow users of The Automotive India, Internet is as much required for life as Oxygen now and there was no internet at all in Shego. In fact there wasn’t any mobile signal other than BSNL and even to capture that one has to venture outside braving the cold on to a high rock and pray for the signal.

Fourthly, there was no power for first two days and had to endure the extreme cold in dark without any news/ TV.

Fifthly, supplies were a big issue even though homestay owner had enough Rice, Fluor, Pulses etc. but fresh vegetables were soon finished and soon eggs/ chicken were finished. Again uncertainty factor loomed upon large.

Well there weren’t negatives only, positives follow from here

Talking of the positives, I had firsthand experience of living in the middle of cold desert. There were plenty of things to learn- how the locals braved it and how they enjoyed it.

Soon we were busy making igloos, milking yaks, clearing snow from roof tops of mudhouses, fetching water, enjoying local spirits and cuisines. It was great to find out how locals using locally available resources could make out a comfortable living when temperatures used to dip to -40 Celsius at night.

While living at Shimla had made me adaptable to snow, but this kind of temperature and the freebies it invited were a totally new to me. Even the mighty Spiti River was totally frozen.
I realized how traditional mud houses were suitable to brave winters than modern hotels made of concrete. Also learnt plenty of card games as these were favourite pastime of villagers. Poly houses were used as playing stations and people used to pass all their time there.

Since vegetables and chicken had already finished, so during last two days enjoyed dried meat. In a traditional scientific method, locals dry meat at the beginning of winters. With slight variations this practice is in vogue in most of upper Himachal i.e. from Narkanda onwards.

Keeping my lone stranded Gurkha in running condition was also a challenge. Since diesel was limited so couldn’t keep Gurkha engine running for ever and it was not possible to start if fuel lines had frozen. I used the concept of Green House to my advantage here, wrapped entire Gurkha in a poly house sheet, all around and waited for sun. Well it started in first self even though temperature was in negatives, as due to green house effect, temperature inside almost made me to sweat instantaneously.

Something that remained same in both these lock downs, was the role of media. During current one, all of us know, while in last one, the same avalanche that we faced was reported that same one has killed hundreds of labourers along with a couple of army men. These reports were making folks quite anxious back home while we were relishing Spiti dishes.

Some pics from that lockdown:
20190222_100013.jpg

Clear skies were a rarity

20190222_110231.jpg

Gloomier ones were the norm
20190222_100105.jpg

Yak is being used for drying jacket from Inside. Usual discrimination against animals vanishes in such harsh environs.


20190222_124403.jpg

We attempted to make some igloos, there was so much of snow there that we simply dug out one
20190222_125703.jpg

A tiny snowman as well


20190223_084037.jpg

Ingenuously applied Green House Concept for starting Gurkha in sub-zero temperatures. Look closely water below has frozen and has formed glass like structure in these temperatures. While the Gurkha started in first crank thanks to this method.


Please give your feedback generously about the travelogue and all queries are welcome.
Continue hooked to the travelogue as soon I will be writing about our journey back home.
 

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Thread Starter #7
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
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Location
SHIMLA
Fantastic travelogue. With ongoing lockdown and summers around, this is exactly the kind of travelogue we needed to refresh. It’s also not often I find a travelogue with Gurkha (in this case not one, but five!). Please resume further with loads of images. Do consider updating your Gurkha's Ownership Review as well. [thumbsup]

Drive Safe,
350Z
Thanks for the feedback 350Z and for showering praise to the travelogue. And as I mentioned in above post, we got hold of 6th Gurkha as well in Kaza. It is a rarity to catch another Gurkha in normal areas and we got hold of one in Kaza :) I will continue with my ownership review, as my Gurkha has completed 5 years and 96 k kms + till date.

Hooked on for further adventure. Bring it on.
Thanks and the show is on

Wow, what an experience it must have been. First the land itself and then driving there in such tough terrain and conditions. Amazing pics too! Now waiting eagerly for the remaining travelogue. [:)]
It was an epic journey for all of us, making memories for life
 
Joined
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Waiting for the remaining part.
Hope you are doing well and get time to update it soon. [:)]
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2016
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Location
Kolkata
Wow Pics.. I did Winter Spiti Expedition from Kolkata with a Friend in his Duster & me with a rented Gypsy along with The Mountain Goat Expedition group in Feb 2020, its an amazing place & experience to have, you encourage me to take up a TL on that, sharing a few pics from my trip, hope you don't mind.
20200218_142752a.jpg
20200218_145206a.jpg
DSC_1331a.jpg
DSC_1235a.jpg
 
Joined
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m'bai, lko, kolkata
Day 5: Self Invited Lock down
It was snowing heavily in the morning. First things first, and here the issue was to start our vehicles. Surprisingly, for those who haven’t experienced snow, it is quite easy to start vehicles when its snowing in comparison to open skies. So we could get these started after deluging fuel filter with a bottle of hot water.

View attachment 274118
Good Morning: We were greeted to a view all our Gurkhas covered in almost a feet of snow

Most in my group were quite eager to have adventure in live snowfall and were eager to head out towards Kaza and may be reach some nearby Monsatery. But I had already my cup of snow fun full as I lived in Shimla for a good 5 years, and from experience I believed in a pahadi adage – “Barkha aaye to Chupo aur Barf aaye to Bhago” meaning that in hills its better to take shelter while it is raining and to run away to lower areas in case of snow. I advised them to head down to Tabo/ Pooh as we already had our fun in snow yesterday. But well they wanted to have more fun and decided to go to Kaza Helipad and have fund in snow field there.



View attachment 274119
Four of our vehicles ready for the snow challenge, while I waited at Shego
View attachment 274121
No trace of road/ path left at our homestay due to overnight snow and it was still overcast when they ventured out

So willingly they left the warmth of Shego to venture out in Kaza, while it was still snowing heavily. It continued to snow through out the day and while my friends were returning from Kaza around 3 pm, they got stuck due to an avalanche just about 2 kms from Shego, our homestay.

Fears turn true: I received a phone call from them about this and they told me that it was a short obstruction and in case a couple of feet wide road is cleared they can come to Shego. So, I tried to rescue them with home stay owner and fellow villagers thinking that we could clear that much of snow. Somehow cramped 11 of us in Gurkha, which is just a five seater and that too with snow shovels. But in place of being able to clear them, we ourselves got stuck in snow enroute. We could return safely thanks to the tenacity of both the vehicle and the 11 rugged Spitians and me driving in tonnes of snow.

View attachment 274120
Only pic from our failed rescue mission. You can observe the enormous quantity of snow and its blinding effect, while tough Spitians were working hard to get our vehicle out of Snow
As a result, 5 of my group were stuck in Kaza along with 4 Gurkhas and a mechanic while 4 of them walked back to homestay in Shego. From here on, the lockdown experience started, as even I could not return back home as entire road upto Nako was blocked due to excessive snow.

View attachment 274123
Spot the Handpump

View attachment 274124
Shego village was completely snow bound. And there was a striking difference in the type of snow here and in Shimla/ Manali. While the snow in Shimla/ Manali is of wet type and consequently on heavier side, the snow in Spiti was like finest cotton flakes, extremely light and fluffy


For full four days they were stuck in Kaza, while we waited at Shego for roads to clear. I tried all my contacts in PWD, District Administration Kaza and State Government for road clearance, however, progress was very little. I also tried with my contacts in Army, Air Force and BRO but all informed that no progress could be made until weather permits. Every day my friends in Kaza used to visit PWD office in Kaza and asked them about road clearance and then Bull Dozers were driven to avalanche site. Still little progress was being made. And on the other hand, there was no information available about the progress from Tabo side in road clearance.

When all hopes had died, on the 4th day of lock down, around 8 pm, my friends were able to return back from Kaza. It was quite a feeling of jubilation to see them around. And friends, if 5 Gurkhas were a rarity for you, they also brought another person who was driving a single Gurkha with some friends.

Comparison with Current Lockdown
Comparing with the current lockdown, it was quite a disturbing experience.

Firstly, only 11 of us were stuck, there was this uncertainty that while the rest of the world is moving on as usual, we were stuck there for an uncertain length of time. Now, unfortunately, all of us are grandly stuck.

Secondly, we were away from the comfort of our families, unlike at present. Even a majority of our group was stuck in Kaza without any facilities, as hotels in Kaza close down in winters, so they could only manage one hotel to open kitchen area and were all lodged there in extreme cold. Had we been together we could have at least assured company.

Thirdly, believe me my fellow users of The Automotive India, Internet is as much required for life as Oxygen now and there was no internet at all in Shego. In fact there wasn’t any mobile signal other than BSNL and even to capture that one has to venture outside braving the cold on to a high rock and pray for the signal.

Fourthly, there was no power for first two days and had to endure the extreme cold in dark without any news/ TV.

Fifthly, supplies were a big issue even though homestay owner had enough Rice, Fluor, Pulses etc. but fresh vegetables were soon finished and soon eggs/ chicken were finished. Again uncertainty factor loomed upon large.

Well there weren’t negatives only, positives follow from here

Talking of the positives, I had firsthand experience of living in the middle of cold desert. There were plenty of things to learn- how the locals braved it and how they enjoyed it.

Soon we were busy making igloos, milking yaks, clearing snow from roof tops of mudhouses, fetching water, enjoying local spirits and cuisines. It was great to find out how locals using locally available resources could make out a comfortable living when temperatures used to dip to -40 Celsius at night.

While living at Shimla had made me adaptable to snow, but this kind of temperature and the freebies it invited were a totally new to me. Even the mighty Spiti River was totally frozen.
I realized how traditional mud houses were suitable to brave winters than modern hotels made of concrete. Also learnt plenty of card games as these were favourite pastime of villagers. Poly houses were used as playing stations and people used to pass all their time there.

Since vegetables and chicken had already finished, so during last two days enjoyed dried meat. In a traditional scientific method, locals dry meat at the beginning of winters. With slight variations this practice is in vogue in most of upper Himachal i.e. from Narkanda onwards.

Keeping my lone stranded Gurkha in running condition was also a challenge. Since diesel was limited so couldn’t keep Gurkha engine running for ever and it was not possible to start if fuel lines had frozen. I used the concept of Green House to my advantage here, wrapped entire Gurkha in a poly house sheet, all around and waited for sun. Well it started in first self even though temperature was in negatives, as due to green house effect, temperature inside almost made me to sweat instantaneously.

Something that remained same in both these lock downs, was the role of media. During current one, all of us know, while in last one, the same avalanche that we faced was reported that same one has killed hundreds of labourers along with a couple of army men. These reports were making folks quite anxious back home while we were relishing Spiti dishes.

Some pics from that lockdown:
View attachment 274125
Clear skies were a rarity

View attachment 274126
Gloomier ones were the norm
View attachment 274127
Yak is being used for drying jacket from Inside. Usual discrimination against animals vanishes in such harsh environs.


View attachment 274128
We attempted to make some igloos, there was so much of snow there that we simply dug out one
View attachment 274129
A tiny snowman as well


View attachment 274130
Ingenuously applied Green House Concept for starting Gurkha in sub-zero temperatures. Look closely water below has frozen and has formed glass like structure in these temperatures. While the Gurkha started in first crank thanks to this method.


Please give your feedback generously about the travelogue and all queries are welcome.
Continue hooked to the travelogue as soon I will be writing about our journey back home.
This is an incredible travelogue and as you have put so aptly - it makes memories for life! Kudos to you for your spirit and enthusiasm as well as your observations of the local circumstances and the locals' ability to adapt to these circumstances.
Hats off!
 
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