Pedalling ahead, feeling fortunate to be besides magnificent landscapes, I saw the majestic mountains at a distance being engulfed by light snow. Just then I realised it started snowing on us too. We moved towards our first campsite near Surajtal as snow gently rested on our face. There was a sense of happiness in us knowing we were going to be away from civilisation for the next few days. Who knew this could be the worst mistake of our lives!
A lake situated near Bara-lacha la, Surajtal is the 3rd highest lake in India. It is also called Suryatal, is a major attraction for many tourists and a sacred water body, that literally translates to the 'Lake of the Sun God'. It is situated just below the Bara-lacha pass in Lahaul and Spiti Valley, in the state Himachal Pradesh.
Surajtal to Chandratal is among the lesser known trekking routes which covers two of the famous lakes in Himachal. The trek can be covered in 4 days. I got introduced to this route by Mohit aka 'Munching on Saddle’. When we tried looking for more information on the internet we hardly found intel on it so the only way was to explore it ourselves.
Be it a trek or a bikepacking adventure, "It is always important to map out the route.", which is the 1st lesson that I have always abided by since my first ever bike packing tour. [Read about my solo bikepacking tour from Jaipur to Kanyakumari] Whenever I plan a route, I first check the satellite map and maps.me to spot a trail, luckily the route we were to attempt had been marked previously which was helpful!
Initially during our discussion about doing this route together, Mohit planned to meet me at Darcha. As I was to start riding a week before he arrived there, I was skeptical if I would see him at my time of my arrival!
Our timings weren’t able to sync because of his work commitments and my shortage of time. So, a week later I decided to ride from Manali towards Zanskar Valley with no hopes to catch up with Mohit as I was sure that by the time I reached Darcha, Mohit would've already started from Surajtaal according to the previous plan.
On 15th Sept '19 I came back to Darcha to find his whereabouts and to my surprise he was in Keylong which meant we could still ride together.
I did some scouting to know about current situations of the route by asking locals which usually is a good idea because they surely are updated with all kind of information. I was told that the route will have only a few river crossings and scree sections which will not be suitable for biking but majority of it would be rideable. Since Mohit shared similar information about the route I was relieved but, it wasn't the case when we reached there. Turned out we were fed on false information from people.