Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Survived "7 days in Freidhof's Boot Camp"!

What a beautiful but very physically and challenging week! (day 59-65 of the trip).    We are calling it, "7 Days in Freidhof Boot Camp" and we now have empathy for his wrestlers!  Ward and I were happy that we weren't the only ones spent.  It took us all down.  Read on...

Stats:  As of 5/13/13 we are on day 71 of 100.  Bicycled: 4343 km, only 6 flat tires,  2 broken spokes, 2 broken pedals and, something new - a broken rack on my (Jacky's) bike.

We are now in Moradabad.  If you recall, Jeff had his passport stolen.  He had previously gone to New Dehli to apply for a new one (see last blog) and now has to return to New Dehli to pick it up and get a new Indian and Nepal Visa.  So, we are hanging out for a couple of days enjoying the Indian culture and catching up on some internet as we wait for Jeff to return.

Trip from Chandigarh to Nahan.
As we were leaving Chandigarh we knew that we would be seeing the Himalayas.   This also meant that we would be getting out of the plains of Punjab and Haryana and into the mountains.   Our first overnight  was in Solan and then off to Shimla.   We climbed from an elevation of 1000 feet in Chandigarh to over 7000 feet to Shimla.   It was a grinder of a climb but the vistas were so beautiful and majestic.  Shimla History: During British rule Shimla was the summer retreat for the British forces because of the cooler temperatures and the natural beauty.
Jeff biking up the dirt road in the Himalayas.

Sunset in Solan.
Himalayas on the way to Shimla.
City of Shimla built on a hillside.

We did a fair amount of hiking in and around the city, that basically hangs on the side of the mountain.  Our legs were tired from the mountain climb but also because of the different muscles that we used hiking.  We were also hopeful to do a major trek but the area was over developed to get that remote feeling.  At this point`we decided that we wanted to get to a more remote trekking area.
Pedestrian mall in Shimla.  There were 4 different levels due to the hillside.

Always be aware of the monkeys!
Summer retreat where the British forces would meet.
Woodwork inside the retreat.
Chandhur Peak as we see it  in the distance.

We headed for Naraudhar to climb Chandur Peak (12,000 ft mountain).  One would think that we would take a day off from bicycling and hiking in the mountains before attempting to hike a 12,000 ft peak.  Remember, we are trainees in Freidhof's Boot Camp.  No rest. We continued to bicycle through the mountains until we reached Naraudhar.  That night we bought our supplies for the trek.  We were informed by a local that due to the snow on the mountain top,  we would not be able to reach the peak.  We were 1-2 weeks too early.  We decided we were going to hike as far as we could.

Jeff and Jacky hiking.
We had a beautiful hike.  The path was pretty well marked. There is a temple on the top of the mountain  and it is a pilgrimage for the locals.  Their are 2 shacks (they call guesthouses) along the way that you can get food and tea.  You can also sleep at these places if you wish.  Many people hike up, stay overnight at the temple and then descend the next day.  We got about 1000 ft from the summit but the snow cover, slipperiness and potential drops were too much to continue with our old worn out tennis shoes.  We had to turn back.  It was a success anyway as the hike was so beautiful and we met locals as we stopped for tea on our way down.  Maybe we can find a mountain in Nepal to climb.
Jeff trying to make it across the slippery snow.  He was using sticks for ice picks.
Ward and Jacky in front of Chandhur Peak
We stopped at one of the guesthouses on the way down the mountain.
Locals making us chi in the guesthouse.

One more day of Freidhof Boot Camp.  We backtracked the first 24km so we knew what to expect for terrain and road conditions.  From there the map indicated that we would be turning onto a big road (hwy) that we thought would continually descend to the city of Nahan.  When we turned onto this road it ended up being the worst road we had been on so far.  If there "was" pavement it had huge potholes and was broken up.  Otherwise it was very rough gravel with big rocks (Ward and Jeff said the gravel was worse then any they have been on back home).  Another thing, we didn't gradually descend to Nahan.  We descended alright, straight down into the valley which meant we had to climb out of it!!  Remember a downhill on these road conditions isn't any fun either as you have to ride your brakes and dodge the holes and bumps.  Temps were over 100 and the humidity was rising as we were getting into more jungle. I thought I was going to croak.  We had gone 40km and still had 80km to go.  I was climbing at 6km/hr (that's like 3.5mi/hr).  I didn't even know I could bike that slow and still stay upright.  Every time we thought we were reaching the top, we would be disappointed by more road winding upward.  I knew if we went the whole 120km we would not get there in the daylight.  We were running out of water and there weren't any stops to replenish.

We are purifying the local water.
We stopped at the next small village and set up our water purification system and filtered their tap water.  We weren't sure what the locals were thinking when they saw us doing this.  Hopefully we didn't offend them but we couldn't take any chances.  They told us we would be descending once again into a valley to then have to climb out AGAIN, but luckily not to the same elevation.  They did say there was a national hwy that we would be reaching that we would ride the last 20km on into Nahan.  The national hwys typically have a nice paved shoulder so I knew I could ride that in the dark with lights.  Well, before we reached the hwy my rear rack broke from all the bouncing and jarring.  This meant that Jeff and Ward had to carry my bags.  They were also tired and I really wanted to save my sherpa privilages for another time but we had no choice.  We reached the hwy at dusk.  Wait!  Where is the pavement?  Where is the shoulder?  Where is any infrastructure??!!  This was the worst gravel road thus far.  By the time we hit Nahan my arms and hands throbbed so bad that I could hardly hold onto the handlebars.  It was dark and we had one more surprise...Nahan is located on the top of a hillside.  This meant more climbing.  By the time we hit the town it was dark.  We were all totally worn out and hadn't been able to eat or drink properly during the day due to availability.  We all decided to take the next day off  to rest.
Jeff, this is a rest day!!!

Ward and I were happy we survived Freidhof's Boot Camp.  We're not planning on signing up for any more in the near future.

The last 3 days we have been blessed with flat paved roads, tail wind and many little stores/food places along the route.  Wow!  What a welcoming change! 

So far it has been an incredible and educational experience in India.  Within the next day or two we will be heading to Nepal where we will be spending most of the remainder of our trip.

TIP:  Never strap bananas on the back of your bike when you are traveling through monkey territory. (Ask Freidhof about this.)

Stay tuned!
Namaste.    Jacky and Ward

No comments: