Day 3, Sunrise, Chhota Drara, 12,103', Lahual Valley, H.P., India ęBill Holter

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3) 8/20/99
Start ride: 7:00 AM Chhotadarra to Batal
Ride: 6 hours total
Miles Ridden: 15
Start Altitude: 12,103 ft.
End Altitude: 12,988 ft.
Just after leaving camp, both support vehicles become stuck at a river crossing behind a truck that has been stuck there for a week. There are other vehicles waiting, but no one wants to help free the first truck. Dawa tells us to go ahead and ride. The road is very rough--broken rock, uphill, and the altitude keeps me short of breath. I was the last to leave camp, which meant that for most of the day I was by myself. My SPD's wouldn't clip in when I needed them and forward momentum was difficult to achieve due to altitude and road conditions. Walking is the only other option. Six hours later I finally reach Batal, my body in full crash and burn. Some of the others ride up to Kumzum La 14,927'. I stay with the others in Batal and wait for our support truck and Sumo. Batal is a chi stop with a blue tarp over it. We sit in the sun gazing up at the sides of the huge mountains. Two thousand feet above us, a herd of sheep moves across the steep rock face. I silently envy the herder's acclimatized abilities and the view he has of the surrounding snow peaks. The Sumo finally arrives at 5:30, but the truck is still stuck in the river. We welcome our warm clothing, and the Sumo returns to get the tents from the truck. Finally, the truck is freed, and arrives to our cheers! We have a late dinner. Dawa's hands are raw from moving rocks all day in two-foot deep glacial river water. I give him vitamin E cream for his hands. We were supposed to be camping on the other side of Kumzum La that night, so we decided that the next day we would ride 50 miles to make up for the lost distance.