We can’t post a series about our favorite routes without mentioning the famous Leh to Manali route, as well as the Kargil to Leh route in the Indian Himalayas. The region of Ladakh is a high altitude disputed territory which boarders Pakistan and China and is full of monasteries and Tibetan monks, desolate dry mountains, and a few beautiful rivers. Ladakh is a wonderful place to cycle for those of you who enjoy isolation, endless high altitude passes, and easy camping.
I’ve decided to take a few of our favorite camping photos from pre-South America and tell a little story about each one. Though the photo sometimes captures the natural beauty of a place, it never really gives the whole story.
“Her secret of success is that she did it all with passion.”
After a year between India and Nepal I couldn’t be more excited to start the rest of this trip in Europe. Though the culture may not be so “crazy” or different than my own in many parts, I have come to realize that what I am really in search of are good people and beautiful mountains. Though I know nearly nothing about Georgia or Armenia, from what others have told me, these countries will provide a wonderful starting point for our gigantic European tour (yes, our plans have indeed changed again). Kevin and I plan to continue on through Turkey (where my brother and best friend will join us for a few weeks during Christmas) and Eastern Europe before heading up to Finland and, after crossing the arctic circle, make our way down Norway. After heading back down through Denmark we plan to traverse the Alps and Italy, eventually ending our two year European tour in Spain and Portugal as well as Morocco (yes yes, I know it’s part of Africa not Europe) for as many months as we please. Sounds fun, right?!
“Not all those who bicycle are lost.”
Anyone who has visited Ladakh will remember the hilarious roadsigns the government has set up for tourists along the way. And for those of you who haven’t seen them, here are just a few examples.
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine: it is lethal.”
When we woke up to an overcast sky on our sixth day of cycling we were relieved for a reprieve from the ever-present high altitude sun we have been constantly cycling under. Of course the clouds did turn into a rain storm, but surprisingly enough it still turned out to be our best day yet.
“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”
The famous Leh to Manali highway was a wonderful 500km ride which combined tough high altitude cycling with beautiful Himalayan camping. This ten day adventure took us over five very high passes (including the second highest pass in the world) and led us out of the arid Himalayas and into the green foothills below. Best of all, since this route is so popular amongst world touring cyclists, we met nearly a dozen tourers just like us.
“Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.”
Just before reaching the pass that would officially bring us into the Zanskar valley we encountered two Indian motorcyclists who had just come from farther ahead. They flagged us down to explain that the pass had been impossible for them to complete as there was no road. Not a bad road, or a washed out road, simply, no road. And on top of that, there was new snowfall (unsurprising as farther below we had experienced over twelve hours straight of rain) and apparently a river (or part of the non road) which would have water up to our waists due to the extensive snow melt. So, after spending one last night surrounded by beautiful mountains over 7,000m, we decided to cycle out and towards Leh in order to return a few weeks later for a twenty day trans Himalayan trek through the Zanskar valley.
‘One of the greatest tragedies in mankind’s entire history may be that morality was hijacked by religion.’
Through Heaven and Hell recounts my scariest moment, when I was followed and stopped by multiple Indian men who had less than chivalrous intentions when they trapped me. Thankfully a lovely Sikh grandpa came to my rescue and was able to keep me safe for the night.