2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Day 6 – Dhankar to Kaza

2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Compendium – Links to rest of the Spiti travelog

Day 6 – Fri, Sep 8 2017 – Dhankar Lake, Komic, Hikkim and Kaza

Day 6 – Route Map

I snoozed the alarm twice before I woke up. While I wanted to leave early, I was not in a hurry. All I had to do was to get up, brush, dress up and leave for the Dhankar Lake.

Looking at my physical shape, the guesthouse caretaker had warned me a couple of times on the trail being steep and that it will take quite long.

Three dogs who were sleeping just outside the guesthouse door, got startled as I stepped out. They then proceeded to ungrudging accompany me on the walk up to the lake.

The trail starts just outside the large gate on the main road and is well-marked. At first it is quite gradual and then gets steeper – at least it felt so maybe because I got tired.

The altitude definitely had an effect and pretty soon I was huffing and puffing, which made me stop quite often. That was good in a way as it gave me an opportunity to look behind me.

The trail rises straight on the face of the mountain overlooking the village and the valley. The sun was rising behind the mountain I was climbing, spreading golden hue on the hills opposite. The moon was setting over the hills across the valley.

Taking a break on the strenuous hike

Moonset over Spiti Valley. See here.

One of the three dogs who accompanied me to the lake.

A sprinkling of snow on the top of the peaks.

The dogs would dart ahead. Then they would wait for me to catch up with them and give a rub on the head. Then they would dart back ahead and repeat the cycle.

Around three-forth of the way up, the trail turns obscuring the views of the valley.

As I turned around a corner, a small temple showed up with a portion of dried lake bed. I wondered if the lake will be completely dried. However any worried were put to rest as the trail topped over a small rising and the lake came into view. One part of the lake was dried up while the other side had ample water. There were two temples near the lake – one very small and in a run down condition and the other larger and better maintained one. It took me around 1hr 45min to reached the lake from the monastery guesthouse.

As I stood there staring at the small lake nestled among the mountains, the dogs decided not to wait for me. They darted down to the water and jumped in. There were boards on the way advising not to get into the water and I respected that, only putting my hands in to drink some water and wash my face.

The dogs enjoying a walk in the water.

Reflections

A five picture panorama. See here for larger version.

More reflections

The small temple beside the lake. below the temple is where I took a short nap.

I took a round of the and then settled down on the banks near the temple. The dogs lay down near me, occasionally getting up to jump into the cold water. I am guessing the sun was quite hot and they would get into the water to cool themselves.

I had an apple in my bag and bit off a piece to share with the dogs. They did not like it and left it there. So I ate the rest of the apple myself. Lying there in the sun I dozed off in the lullaby of flags fluttering in the wind. Other than that there was absolute silence.

I woke up feeling cold and saw that a cloud had obscured the sun. I lay there lazily before getting up to start on the trail down.

The bigger and better maintained temple.

One of the dogs cooling off in the lake.

The trail back.

Selfie on the trail back.

It was almost 1030 by the time I reached back to the guesthouse. On way back met a a group of two being led by a guide going towards the lake.

After reaching the guesthouse, had a breakfast of bread, omelet and tea. Left Dhankar by 1200.

A 7 shot panorama of the Spiti River between Dhankar and Kaza and the towering hills across. Bigger version here.

Leaving Dhankar, I had two options. One was to take the straight road to Kaza. This road follows the Spiti river and is in pretty good condition. The other is a diversion which goes to Komic, Hikkim, Langza and then Kaza. This second route was recommended by someone on bcmtouring forum and is not well used. Someone had warned that the road may be closed or in pretty bad condition. I would later find out that the warning was quite apt.

As I headed towards Kaza, I was still undecided. Fuel was running low, so I was a little reluctant to take the alternate route. Around a Km after Lidang, the road to Demul takes off on the right. The road looked newly laid and in excellent condition. All doubts were gone and I turned up that road.

Patterns on a mountain.

Lost on the Demul Road

The road quickly rose above the valley through a series of switchbacks. Again the views of the valley below were magnificent. The road was great, so it was fun driving up.

After a few Km, a small trail cut off towards to the left. Next to it a board indicate the way to Komic. The trail was narrow and didn’t looked motor-able. While google maps showed that to be the right way, I was hesitant. I was more eager to ride on the good road which went ahead towards Demul. So ignoring the board and the maps, I went straight. Pretty soon I was at the top of the hill. Couple of Chortens stood there defying the strong winds. The road ahead went to Demul. A small trail went off somewhere to the left.

I was somewhat lost and also the shortage of fuel dawned on me. Decided to take the small trail on the left. A little far ahead was a tractor with trailer parked on the road blocking the way. It gave me confidence that the trail is motor-able.

Reaching the tractor, I found two guys sitting behind the tractor. They affirmed that the trail would lead to Komic. At the same time they warned that the road was bad. One of them then proceeded to reverse the tractor so that I had enough space to pass.

After a km of driving on the narrow trail with pointed rocks, the trail widened with rocks giving way to packed mud.

The trail to Komic.

Wild Horses on the Komic trail

As I settled down on the mud packed road, the ride became more and more fun. The vistas were pleasing and sun felt warm on my back. I was loving it.

After a while the road became worse again. Loose rocks, big and small all over. Fortunately I was wearing padded cycling shorts under the jeans otherwise my bun would have been a toast.

After a short break, I reached a small pass overlooking Komic. The monastery looked so isolated in the middle of nowhere.

Selfie on the Komic trail.

Panoramic view from the pass above Komic. A larger version of the 7-image panorama.

Another view from the pass above Komic. The small building below the curve on the road is Komic Monastery.

Komic Monastery

Yaks grazing on the hillside

Komic Monastery

At Komic, I skipped going inside the monastery. Opting to take a picture from outside, I proceeded towards Hikkim. Missing out a turn, I ended up on the road to Langza. Wanting to visit the highest post office, I turned back after realizing my mistake.

At Hikkim, one has to park their vehicle on the road and walk down to the post office. There are no markers, so one has to find their own way around. It is a small village, so I walked around till I found the post office. Surprisingly there was no one to be seen in the village.

There were two people at the post office. They didn’t have any stamps. So I couldn’t send a letter. I left after having a picture taken in front of the board.

Village of Hikkim.

Road to Langza

At the world’s highest post office, Hikkim.

Moving ahead from Hikkim, I descended towards Kaza. The views down towards the valley were picture perfect. After several hours I was seeing some vehicles on the road. The last I had seen was the tractor near the Demul Road Chorten. These were mostly tourists coming from Kaza.

Patterns in the Spiti River.

World’s highest fuel retail outlet.

Didn’t take me long to get to Kaza. First thing I did was to fill up on petrol. Subsequently I hunted for a hotel and found one at Kay Cee Lodge. Dumped my stuff in the hotel and ordered for tea/pakora. Seems to have fallen into a pattern. After reaching the hotel I look for tea/pakora. If that is not there, I fallback to Maggie.

I was planning to head out to the market after a short rest. Did not realize when I fell asleep. It was dark when I woke up. Since I was planning to stay in Kaza for one more day, I hung around the hotel talking to the owners son and the cook. Had dinner of chicken curry and roti, before turning in for the day.

Day Stats

Distance: 83.3Km
Start/End Time: 1200-1730
Expenses – Food: Rs600/-
Expenses – Fuel: Rs550/-
Expenses – Stay: Rs800/-