CHAPTER TEN – THE WHITE WASH–LEH TO DRAS ODO READING – 1570 KMS - 1850 KMS (280KMS) - 23 Sep It rained throughout the night. Got up around 7 AM. Had a round of discussion what to do next over a cup of tea. We had an option to sit tight in Leh for a couple of days and wait for the weather to open up. But we were not aware as to when the Leh Manali road would open for traffic. Other option was to call it a day and return via Srinagar. A call from home sealed the deal. We were ordered to come back via Srinagar as Himachal Pradesh was witnessing high rainfall and as per reports the Leh Manali road would take atleast 3-4 days to reopen. So we decided to call & take help of our friend posted in Dras War Memorial again. He booked a GH exactly opposite to the War Memorial. Although the GH has closed for the season but he convinced the owner to reopen one room for us. With Dras as a target in mind for today we had Breakfast and in the meanwhile the GH owner helped us to find a mechanic to do the Wheel alignment by the old traditional thread method. By the time we were ready to move by 9 AM it had stopped raining but the sky was highly overcast. Thanked the owner for her hospitality and started the long journey back home. Hotel Potala, Choglamsar 097965 83119 The refueling was done with the leftover petrol we had filled extra in Diskit. The journey went smoothly till the time we reached Lamayuru. As it was quite cold we decided to stop for a hot cup of tea and opted for the same GH we had stayed when going towards Leh. The owner was surprised to see us again as he knew we wanted to go back via Manali. On hearing the turn of events, he agreed we took the right decision. As soon as we finished our tea, he looked outside and said we should hurry if we want to leave. We also were in no mood to stop for long but still wondered why he wanted us to leave. Maybe he had to go somewhere we thought. Started again from Lamayuru and got the reply to our answer in the next 20 minutes why he wanted us to leave. It had already started snowing on the high hills and we still had to pass Fatula & Namik La We were just half way of the ascend of Fotula and it started snowing But as it was fresh snow it did not pose any problem and we reached Fotula easily, this time in day light and snowfall. The intensity of snow increased as we made our descend towards the other side of the pass. We still had to cross the second pass of the day. In the below pic Sunit is clicking a selfie with me at the steering wheel. You might wonder what RakeshG is upto at the back. Well the snow started accumulating on the road he decided to lower the Tyre pressure from 35 psi to about 25 psi to get more traction on the road. Soon we started to scale the second pass of the day, Namik La. The further up we went the layer of snow on the road increased making it difficult to drive on it. About 2 kms before the pass the intensity of snowfall increased further making it almost impossible to drive on the incline with sharp turns Below is the last pic we could manage. Just after the next bend there were almost 10 -12 vehicles stuck struggling to move ahead and in an attempt tp do so they were sliding downwards towards the roadsides. Some were trying to put on snow chains. Well the Cutie Pie was no exception and she also gave up on the middle of the road. It looked to me as if it was impossible to cross as there were no tyre marks ahead as everyone was stuck in the blizzard. Well RakeshG, being in the transport line for more than 15 years and driven in snow at many places had other ideas in mind. All he did was take out a pin and reduced the Tyre pressure of all the tyres further to approx. 15 psi. He took control of the steering wheel and asked us to push the car. To my surprise just a push and Cutie Pie starting moving slowly up the the road. RakeshG ordered us both to run fast and sit in the moving car and that too both of us in the front seat to put pressure on the front Tyres. In the next 1.5 kms to the top me and Sunit had to get down push and resit in the moving car about a dozen times. Virtually on every turn. But hard work paid off and we finally reached Namik La. But the intense snowfall made it impossible for us to get down and we hurriedly moved towards the other side. On the other side while descending we saw many vehicles on the other side as well struggling to go up. They all were pretty surprised to see us coming down. They asked if the road is OK on the other side of the pass. All we did was to give a thumbs up. I think nobody actually guessed the reason why we could make to the top. We stopped at the next tyre shop to get the air refilled and were on our way to Dras. We had a feeling like we had won a battle. A battle it was almost. By the time we reached Kargil the weather had opened up a little bit. Stopped for a lunch break and continued our dash towards Dras. We managed to reach Dras by 5 PM. The room arranged was a decent one with hot water available. Had a couple of Complimentary drinks of Army Rum, courtesy our friend posted there. Dinner was delivered from a nearby restaurant. Made another round of calls back home to update regarding the adventure today. Finally time to say Good Night. Cheers !!!