This trip, as I mentioned initially, is not just my effort. There are many people who made this trip possible and for privacy sake I do not mention their names. I thank all of them by individual names. Above all, it’s the will of God without which it would not have taken off at all. Its all these people and most importantly I thank my bike which never missed a single beat in those horrible roads. Never had even a single puncture. We both came home safely. I was harsh on it on that slushy rainy day on the way to Muktinath. But otherwise the steep inclines on Hetauda route, it took it easy. I did go in first gear, but not while climbing up but while climbing down for better maneuverability.
What actually I aimed was to be in Himalayas and possibly a dip in Damodar Kunda in upper Mustang area past Muktinath. Knew that was expensive entry fees. Wanted to try some other means. But nothing worked. I know people even crossed over to China border to Mt. Kailash area illegally.
Then comes EBC. I had an open mind on this. I just wanted to be in that area and see the Saagarmaatha which I did. But once there I want to do more and more. Had I known a 47 existed on oximeter, I would have definitely risked and had done even three passes and Gokyo too along with Kalapathar. But I came to know only after my return.
I don’t mean others take this example. Follow your own safety measures on oxygen levels and your instincts and your endurance.
In all the total 5,697 Kms I did on this trip. Faced all sorts of roads to no roads at all in that river bed on the way Pokhara – Muktinath in Nepal. Surprisingly, the super highways with four track, toll roads. I felt really quite boring and not practical for a two wheeler in those scorching heat. No shade at all. They are just meant to commute and transportation or meant for some expensive cars and so on. Not for a trip like this.
The time of the trip is totally wrong but I had no choice. In India I faced extreme hot conditions and one can imagine a two wheeler drive in that scorching heat. Other option was night drive. On super highways that’s ok but nearly 60% of roads were under widening process and the conditions were horrible for a night drive with that sole little headlight what I had on my bike. So that’s ruled out. I did night driving several times during the trip though. But not worth the risk. Plus what would I see if I do the night drive. Not that I am scared of night. It reminds me of passing those jungles and Banti Dhaba on my Leh trip.
Then comes Nepal. Muktinath area rains have already begun. Wrong time for a two wheeler drive. All slush in those inclines. No matter what gear you are in, no matter if both the brakes applied the bike would skid the way the slush takes and its really scary when the skid is out of control at those steep edges. Moreover, its not fun to drive in rain, slush, off roads, great altitudes and cold all at the same. What views one would have in those conditions excepting the fog everywhere including on our helmet visor.
Then EBC area. During this time of the year, either it rains, or its all hazy. Only till afternoon one could expect good weather. Then the coulds would come up obliterating all views. Views fine, but in case of emergencies who depend on heli rescue, no helicopter would fly in those weather conditions. Literally none. Even the flights would get cancelled and I have seen passengers struck for several days at Lukla and had to charter a helicopter to Kathmandu lest they miss their international flight.
So, choose your time. I know best time would be October like I did my Leh trip.
Next comes pace of the trip. I never pushed to do more kilometers nor fixed a destination excepting from Kolkatta onwards. This because I was in a hurry to hit home. But the conditions are such we somehow get victimized to the temptation of reaching our destination of that particular day. Only if I could wait another day, and only if it didn’t rain that heavy that night at Goleswor. So many ‘if’s.
Health; if you are reasonably well, one can do this trip easily. Well, in my case, that food poisoning really took its toll and I still feel the tender stomach. Taste buds literally died and curiously no wish for water either. Otherwise I drink lot of water daily in my day to day life. It is difficult to choose the place of eating especially when driving because the temptation of taking the closest choice without much deviation is too great. Food poisoning and continuous dhaba food, and the extreme heat is the perfect recipe to ill health. At no point of time I felt tired and craved for a rest day. The system itself is put into gear and would stop only after the trip is over. Those three days at Mau, I really was drained and had to climb the strairs to reach my room with the help of grills. When decided to continue my journey towards Gorakhpur and then on to Nepal, all my spirits were complaining. What made me push myself I do not know. Same thing happened when approaching Himalayas of Nepal, said to myself, oh no.. once more these hills, but the inner traveler was just too happy and he won luckily.
The Drive: I had minimum maintenance work on the bike before the start of the trip. Just general cleaning of carburetor, air cleaner, jets, electrical, replacing all control cables, chain tightening and oil change. At one stage I thought of going for tubeless tire for that dreadful road of Muktinath but by the grace of God, nothing happened. I used the stock tyre. Now, what I leant from the two trips into Himalayas is best way to drive is never to hurry one thing and secondly don’t strain the bike. One would know when the bike isn’t liking the drive anymore. Just stop. Then apply brakes and clutch when its absolutely necessary. Manage with gear and throttle combination. It works very well and absolutely safe. In the hot plains the engine was getting so hot, really so hot but on experience you would know the endurance of the bike. I don’t have a CHT on my bike, yet, one could feel it. Any slightest protest from the engine, just stop. Let her breathe, it has to take you home safely, don’t forget that. Never to be nervous in difficult situations like extreme inclination of road, slush, lonely, forest or whatever the reason. Its going to be alirght at the end. And without a difficulty nothing is going to be achieved.
At the end; one can do this trip. Even could be extended provided that you have enough money for example 500 dollars permit for upper Mustand and more money in EBC area. One could even drive upto Jiri or Shivalaya and to avoid that expensive Lukla flight unless you fancy flying into the third most dangerous airport. But, tell you, you are a mere passenger, you are not a pilot. What a boring thing that it is. But this means two days of drive to and fro Kathmandu and four days extra trek. Monetaraliy it would come to the flight cost only I think. If you ask me, next time, I prefer driving and avoid Lukla flight altogether. More time to spend in Himalayas that way.
If any questions from any of the readers to help doing any sector of this trip, I can answer depending upon my experience and perception.
That’s the end of this travelogue.
PS: News of my trip came in the local telugu news paper. Here is the clipping.View attachment 753206
Wow and inspiring sir.
Read your TL with just two breaks.
Vicariously went to all those places you went, such details.