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Montag, 18. Februar 2013

Crossing the Shingo La


This day is the 6th day on the Shingo La trail and we are finally going to cross the pass. For me, the 5000m (16400ft) pass will be the highest point I've ever been to. after one or two days, we plan to reach the Manali Leh Highway.

After the first climb, we can ride a bit further into the valley. The cloud are already revealing the weather on the other side of the pass.

longest singletrail
 The first time, we used an  ice bridge to cross a river.
New, the track goes up a huge rocky slope which is quite a challenge with the bikes. Though we already got used to the high altitude, it is only possible to lift and carry the bike for a minute, before needing a breathing break. At this point I was glad, we hired horses for most of the luggage. Otherwise we would had to unload and carry the luggage separately.
On such high altitude everything is gray, but there are still small flowers between the rocks.

After the climb, there is an ascending plateau. You get to see the pass, but it takes some time to get there. On the way to the pass, we meet a lot of other trekking tourists. There are even organized tours, with their own guides, horsemen and even cooks.  We also saw some supply caravans, transporting goods over the pass. Though this route is faster, our horseman usually uses the longer route to Padum to get supplies. The pass is hostile for the horses, he won't find any grass for them here.

shingo la

longest singletrail
 Finally the pass is visible.

shingo la
Though the impressive scene, the cold wind make us leave the area soon. We agree with the horseman to carry our luggage down to the campsite on the other side. The way down was not so steep, but blocked with many rocks and mostly impossible to ride. Going down there was nearly as much effort as the ascent.

longest singletrail
We finally reached the camp in the late afternoon. After unloading the luggage, Tashi, our horseman took his horses back over the pass again, because he could not find any grass there.

longest singletrail

The following day is rainy, and we only a go for a few kilometers before giving up and setting up the tents again. The next day is clearer, but it is excruciating hard to push the bikes over the blocked trail. At this point I am wishing I did make the Shingo La crossing at all. The valley gets steeper  at the end, and I manag, to break the small trail with my foot again. Again, the other foot and the bike as counterweight saves me from falling.

longest singletrail

At the end, there is a construction site for a road which is planned to lead to Padum some day. I think there are at least ten years, to make the Shingo La trek as we did.  The longest singletrail, I've ever ridden has now come to an end. Another hour on a small road, we finally reach the village Darcia which is on the Manali Leh Highway and has some small restaurants.

In retrospect, this was the most amazing bicycle touring/bikepaking/bike&hike experience I ever had. Though I was cursing and regretting it on some points on the way, I am currently preparing a off road trip in Kyrgyzstan for two months. What I learned, it that a low weight of your gear and bike is the most important key to have fun on the trail. As a mountain biker, I can tell, that a bike with a lot of travel would not have worked to make this trail significantly more rideable.

longest singletrail
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