Mountain biking: Jibhi - Sojha (7 kms further up)
Today is going to be the last day of riding up. And I am not going to be fooled by the shortness of the distance (just 7km). I understood very well that this is going to be our toughest ride by far. And I was not disappointed. The slopes seemed vertical! I shamelessly pushed my bike for about 75% of the distance. I didn't have the balls even to think about riding. Even walking with the bike was getting difficult. As I crossed milestone after milestone, I started wondering about my stamina. I think in the past 1 year, it has nose-dived. With this stamina, I don't know how long I would be able to go on such rides. As I walked past the last curve, I saw a few from our team sitting there, trying to cheer me up. And I decide to ride the last 50m of the slope. I didn't want to finish walking. As I stood there, admiring the view, I realized how beautiful the 7km ride (walk) was. I guess I was too tired on the way to appreciate it. But from high up, I could see it all. After a quick coffee and noodles, three of us decided to take a stroll in the village. The slopes of the hills were neatly drawn into staircase-fields. Mostly people grow wheat and garlic here. In fact, the entire area smells of garlic. There were fields and in the middle of the field, a lonely hut. We were sitting near the hut when we heard some sounds from above. We looked up to see a pair of twinkling eyes and shiny whites gleaming on us from completely wrinkled face. I asked if it would be okay for us to come up and see her house. The house was as interesting as the lady. You have to take wooden stairs and you enter the house through the balcony floor - yes, the door is on the floor and opens upwards. We were greeted by the lady and her daughter-in-law. I cursed myself for not carrying the camera but then wasted no time in running back to the camp and grabbing it back with me. These people were again different from others we met earlier and so were their stories. We got talking and clicking and before we realized, we had already spent about an hour or so at her abode. That's when they mentioned that they knit shawls and grass-footwear at home and asked whether we would like to buy some. The shawls and the footwear were really good and we were almost ready to buy. But the old woman turned out to be real shrewd and smart woman. Seeing our interest, she immediately bumped the price up 4 times. We had to return back, but not without admiring the salesmanship of the old woman living somewhere in a remote village. Her looks fooled us all. Later in the evening, we took a stroll down the hill through the woods. We started following a trail, which I was sure would lead to some village at the foot of the mountain. The trail suggested that it is very much in use.
All the uphill ride is over. The body was glad but the heart Craved for more. Tomorrow will be a 5km hike up the hill to Jalori pass followed by 5km hike down and 24km ride down to Phagupul camp.
- Nikon D80