Every time I think we are emerging from the bowels of the Himalaya we are submerged again into yet another incredible gorge, cycling under solid and not so solid cliffs, bouncing along roads that maybe 10 years ago were smooth tarmac but now are broken and rough. The smooth descent from Recong Peo was followed by rough travel through a gorge that as we emerged we saw the sign “World’s most treacherous road”. Leaving early meant we didn’t have to deal with the traffic as well – tho it has dropped off significantly now.
We go thru the Inner Line Permit check post and enjoy a short section of gentler country and smoother roads. We stop at Spello and enjoy the small village taking an afternoon walk up to the top of the town (200m higher than the bottom of the town) to see the village gompa (monastery). On the way up we are invited in for tea and apricot kernels at a family home and leave with a large pocketful of almonds still in their shells.
On the way to Puh the next day we get a royal wave from a famous lama passing in his entourage. We had passed a large number of locals waiting at a bridge and we were forewarned of his passage through, meeting the people. I was sitting on the side of the road cracking almonds at the time.
Some of the sobering sites on our travel up river are the Nepalese and Bihar road workers and their camps. The Nepalese come over for 4 or more months and work on the roads or if they are luckier in the orchards or as staff at people’s homes. I find it hard to reconcile biking past massive dam structures and 17 km long hydro tunnels and then family groups ‘harvesting’ sand with shovels from river flats of the Satluj. We pass many basic tent/tarp camps where the families live.
From Puh we approach the junction of the Satluj river (coming from western Tibet) and the Spiti river. What an eerie place, solid cliffs, overhanging in places such that we almost feel we are within a canyon. both rivers have steep gradients here so it is noisy as well. We cross the Sutluj, saying goodbye to its brown, angry waters and start a steady climb alongside the Spiti. It is dropping fast and we climb steadily till we are high above it.
Our planned breakfast town didn’t materialise, but luckily a small dhaba (restaurant) in an unmarked village did and we took shelter from some drizzle and enjoyed omelette and roti and it took 3 cups of chai till we ventured out into clearing weather.
We were pleased to finally reach the high town of Nako at 3500m, probably 700m above the Spiti.
The Satluj river untamed by hydro