Glacial Bath @ 15,000 Feet
An itinerary-driven yet successful expedition through Kinnaur for my next book was followed by a completely unplanned (& unrestrained, as it turned out) one through Spiti. For, my friends & I, arrived here with nary a chance of Kunzum La– the only access to neighbouring Lahaul –being cleared of snow within the next few days.
We stationed ourselves in the remote Trans-Himalayan town of Kaza to await news of the pass opening for vehicular movement. And explored Pin Valley, Kibber village (then the highest inhabited Himalayan village before Komic displaced it) and sundry monasteries, in the meantime. The day the pass was thrown open for light motor vehicles, us ambitious eager-beavers took off at first light in order to make it to Manali the same day. The 200kms stretch promised to be a bone-rattling one.
As we neared the top, the terrain became starker and the sun blazed down relentlessly. Tired of being tossed around in the vehicle, we stopped to stretch our limbs. We appeared to be the only signs of life in the astounding lunarscape. Cameras in hand, clicking & filming endlessly, we walked up the rock face to relax awhile and also to dip our feet in the icy water cascading down the mountain side.
It was becoming increasingly warm as we sat there; so naturally we began to de-layer… and soon found ourselves splashing around in the rapidly swelling rill. Squealing, giggling and completely overcome by an Alive Is Awesome mood, we loudly and quite tunelessly rendered our homage to The Carpenters. At fifteen thousand feet, you are not that off the mark when you sing “I’m at the top of the world, looking down at creation…” even as you take your first-ever glacial bath!