Past Rothang Pass: Indian snow, sheep roadblock, river flood

Uploaded 16 Jun 2012
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© Etan Doronne
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More of Etan Doronne's Photos

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  • Past Rothang Pass: Indian snow, sheep roadblock, river flood
  • Riding to Spiti Valley, colors of India: Tibetan prayer flags, Buddhist Stupa & Hindi women in Sari
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

We got our equipment on board, mine was an 80 liter bulcky backpack, and off we went.

We clibed the way up to Rothang Pass, the highest road point before it rolls down into the slanted-eye minorities valleys. On the way I saw a recently killed calf laying on the side of a road curve, his eye had that blank stare kind of saying "tere's no one in here". Trucks, Indian tourist going to experience snow for the first time. We stopped for a snack at a tent-stall, again a beautiful place in a green, sunny, crisp air spot. Then, after passing through the low clouds laying on the mountain slopes, we arrived at small market in a small village. I remember the rosary of Tibetan prayer flags with an Indian cow grazing below.

Ahead, climing higher, we saw the Indian crowds slide the snowie slopes on plastic bags and just standing taking photos in the snow. Then started the desend... the roas got emptier.. no tourist SUV's only trucks and an occasional bus. a goup of workers patching the road, clear sky, no low clouds, visibility to a great depth, tenths of miles ahead.

We had to cross through melting snow streams over the road, huge hers of sheep crossing and continued down.

It was a long day. By the end we arrived at a tiny village, just in the middle f nowhee and no-one. The orginizers probably knew the owners from previous trips. We had a nice warm meal. I treated one of the women for her headache with some acupressure, then we all went to our rooms for a much needed night seep.

On the next day we crossed arid planes with vibrant rivers. The nature of thses lands are such. It's a desert abundant with water sources. There's no rainfall here but many rivers criss cross it flowing down from the melting snowie peaks around. On the rare last rain, a surprising one a few years back, many houses' ceilings collapsed. The traditional building is massive mud walls (about 1meter thick) to protect of the deep freezing winters and a paper thin flat roofs that are not required to channel any rainfall or carry the weight of piling snow. Also, Because these planes are above the tree-line, there's no natural resource to be used as beams, cross-members for building horizontally, such as a heavy roof would require.

We reached Kaza, the valley's "big City", and that's where I departed from the group. They continued some extra week and I went backpacking, as I do.

This valley is only accesible for 3 months a year. The rest of the time the entrace roads are blocked with heavy snow.

From Kaza I continued around this huge Indian-Himalayan peninsula engulfed by China. The circular road around it passes teraced agriculture and as it moves on south and later back west the villages are more and more dipping in greenary... more in line with the rest of Himacnal Pradesh.

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Manali Rothang Pass Spiti Valley Enfield Motorcycle journey -Sheep herd roadblock snow river flood -Himalaya foothills Himachal Pradesh India Feature story photo collage jpgmag

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