First day of the Shingo La trekking path -
Shingo La is a mountain pass (5000m / 16 404ft) in the Himalayas. It connects Padum with the Manali Leh Highway. Without this pass, you would have to go for about 800 kilometer to get on the other side. Though the pass is so important, there is no road, only a small horsepath. The singletrail is about 80 kilometers long and it takes about a week of trekking to get on the other side. It is one of the longest singletrail in the world.
There is an attempt of building a road over the pass, so the first 20 kilometers (2012) are nice and easy to ride.
A while later we meet a German couple with their bicycles. They tell us, that pulling the loaded touring bikes over the pass was impossible for them. Though they took horses, we decide to give it a try and continue without help.
The road gets more and more difficult to ride. In the middle of the afternoon we meet some Austrian and Hungarian trekkers. They are waiting for a car to pick them up. They have been to Shingo La, except the Hungarian couple they had to give up because of sickness. They also give us the hint, to cross the bridge just down on the river since the road ends on the next turn.
It takes us nearly an hour to climb maybe 50 to 100 meter up on the other side of the bridge. The trail is that steep, that the bikes nearly get unable to be pushed. There is hardly enough grip on the feet to get enough force on the bike up. I am regretting every single useless item in my luggage, although it was not that much. Many cyclists carry more than 12 kg of stuff with them. With water and foot for 7 days, I think I had about 20kg with me though. When we finally make our way up, the trail looked like this:
As you can see, there is loose material on the right side. In this picture it looks not so steep, but when we passed, it was like a walking on the edge of a cliff. Only with a 20cm (8inch) wide path, we had to carry our heavy bikes over it. When you fall, you may not die from the impact, but fall in the river below. The passage was horrible, at one of the last steps, the trail started moving under my feet and I was lucky my other foot still had grip.
After this part, the trail relaxes a bit, but still was not save for us. Credit goes to of these bastards:
They are nice to see at first, but then you realize, that they cause serious rockfall. They are rather curious than scared of you and it is hard to get rid of them.
After the nightmare part of the trail, the valley gets wider and there are some flat parts where you can camp. There is even a sandbank on the side of the river, and you can take a short swim in the shallow water.
The drinking water comes from the river today, although my water disinfection liquid does not work good with murky water, I drink it anyways.
We decide not risk to put up our tents at this place, because the cliffs are so high and you can see a lot of rocks fallen from above everywhere. Instead we simply put our sleeping bag as close to the cliff as possible to be protected. After the sun is gone, and the stars start to appear, the sky is getting brighter again, and the moon rises. It is so bright in the valley, that everything has shadows and you can see everything very clear in the dark. It was a nice but excruciating day, and we decide to find horses as soon as possible. This was only the first day of the longest singletrail, I have ridden.