Incredible Spiti – a road trip

This was the day to bid good-bye to Spiti valley and cross Kunzum pass for Chandrataal lake. The stretch after Kunzum pass all the way to Chandrataal had the worst roads waiting for us. In all honesty, after getting warned by many people about the obvious difficulty “Swift” was to go through, deep down, I had considered the possibility of returning back. Or even worse, getting stuck with a broke car.

There were multiple tricky stretches washed away by the nullahs not remotely looking like a road. It was all thanks to our patient and experienced driver bhaiya that we eventually made it to Chandrataal base camp!

Chandratal camp site

It’s a steep road from base camp to the lake and moreover as camping is banned around the lake, the camps are only allowed at the base camp which is about a couple of kilo-meters before the lake. We parked the car here. Avoiding the road, we followed the hiking route to the lake guided by the GPS and the compass as the route wasn’t much frequented and hence wasn’t obvious enough.

The plan was to reach the lake before sunset and wait for the moon.

Chandratal lake

As it started getting darker, it also started getting extremely cold and even though we had multiple layers of winter wear it clearly wasn’t enough with strong ice-cold wind blowing. We took shelter of a wall made of stones by people who must have visited before us hoping that it would prevent the chilly wind. It did, but that wasn’t enough. We had dry fruits with us which we kept munching to keep the cold away but with every passing second it was getting colder and colder. The strong wind made matters worse.

While this was going on, it was completely dark. And the moon was nowhere to be seen. And all three of us were getting restless by the cold. AND we still had to go back to the base camp which was a minimum of 1 hour hike. We decided to start walking back to camp using the flashlight of mobile phone draining the batteries of each mobile one by one. There was no mobile network for last several days so we were carrying the phones here for GPS, map, compass and for the flashlight!

Even though this was a downhill hike but because of the energy lost during last few hours we took double the time one would usually take. At a point mid-way we got a sight of lights from the base camp which was morale booster and confirmed that we were on the right path.

While we were still on our way, the moon rose behind the hill to our left and made the view surreal. We eventually made it back to the camp, had quick dinner and pushed ourselves into the sleeping bags. This was by far, the most adventurous day of the trip and one I’d never forget. 🙂

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