Spiti Diaries

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This month, nature lover Depinder Kapur shares his story of trial and tribulation through the meadows of Spiti in our series Weekend Adventure with Zippo.

The six days that I spent cycling in Spiti was a round trip of about 350 km, entering from Kinnaur and exiting to Manali. I never thought it would be such a struggle, mentally and physically, to decide and be able to go for a cycling trip alone. The mental bit was convincing myself that I could do it, convincing my family that doing it alone was safe and some existentialist worries of middle age. I left Delhi carrying my cycle on a four-wheeler, telling myself that I would put my cycle on a bus, if at any time I wanted to return.

The doubts lingered for a long time, but vanished when I hit the road, saddling up at a place called Poari. I used a cycle with a wider dirt ride rear tyre and a narrower city ride front tyre. A large three-litre water bottle was a must in the dry climate and was completely empty by the end of each day. I carried three extra tubes, a mini hand-pump and a few wires. On an average, I covered about 50 km a day in four to five hours, and took two to three hours of rest.

The moment you are in the pristine landscape of the higher Himalayas, just the joy of being where you have so desperately wanted to be on a cycle and dreamt about, lifts your spirits. The first day of cycling took me from Poari to Puh. With night setting in, I faced my first challenge—the steep, tough five-km ascent to Puh.

My journey took me through Karcham, Recong Peo, Poari, Jangi, Puh, Nako, Tabo, Kaza, Losser and Kunzum La. I was tested physically, of course, and my legs ached. The weather proved to be a challenge too. Having said that, as I crossed one village after another, I grew more restless. I only wanted to be on the road and ride. My cycling trip ended in Batal, a desolate and windy place with three dhabas offering food and shelter. When a holiday ends, it’s kind of melancholic but I was sad as I revelled in the peace I felt.