Tuesday, 4 September 2012

I'm reviewing the situation?

Muddy passes, washed out roads and dire warnings from motorists coming the other way have activated my self-preservation setting and I've returned south to Shimla to await the end of this ridiculously extended monsoon season. There isn't much in the way of camping opportunities in the steep-sided Sutlej valley and the mud and rough ground have twice left me on the verge of being stranded miles from accommodation. Twice now, I've found myself panicking for lack of mileage but both times have managed to flag down a local Tata bus that I can dump my bike on and breathe a sigh of relief at being delivered to some mud-spit guest house in a one-dog town I've never heard of at 2am. I reluctantly got the message that this one-way valley road was telling me to turn-around.

Two days of spine-displacing bus rides brought me back to my starting point in Shimla for some reconsideration of my targets. I now cannot get up into the Himalaya's through Leh and Srinagar and out again before winter sets in. Judging by the messed up weather patterns I'm not pinning my hopes on a late 'Indian' summer either. These valleys and mountains will have to wait for another year and I'm despondent at my retreat. But these last couple of nights in Shimla have left me wondering if I'm my life is heading in the same direction as my anticipated tyre tracks. What if this isn't what I want? What if all the planning and dreams and remorseless collecting of equipment has proved for nothing. The moment I consider returning home on a hastily booked flight to consider my options, I know immediately that it's what I'll do. To hell with it.

Within an hour I'm at an internet cafe looking up flight deals. Unfortunately the connection is flaky. Twice I'm scuppered by loss of connection just as I want to confirm. Fortunately after a few texts to my parents they've managed to book me a flight out of here. A quick rush around the back-streets of Shimla searching for string, cardboard and packing tape and straight back to box and pack. I've booked a private cab back to Delhi in the morning. I'm going home for a while. I think I'd better think it out again!


  1. Unless you are a geologist, one country's majestic mountains look pretty much like another's; it's the people who are different and interesting and you will find more of them at lower altitudes. Start on the other side of the mountains in the spring. I understand it's beautiful there.

  2. One other point: I wonder if daily mileage goals are a good idea, unless you are crossing a wasteland. Might it not be more rewarding to spend the time that you find the place deserves -- travel slowly and if you should find in the end that you have run out of time or money before you reach your intended goal, you may find that have gotten more from your trip than you could have imagined when you began.