Bike

PRISONERS OF THE MOUNTAINS

WE WERE READY TO FLY halfway around the world to northern India. Then, thanks to the live weather channel that is Instagram, we saw an unseasonable winter storm dump more than 2 feet of snow on our targeted destination. Our bikepacking trip between the farming towns of India’s Ladakh region had been swiftly whited out.

A local I was in touch with confirmed my fears that it was a no-go so I organized a hasty three-way phone call with photographer Kari Medig and our friend Carl Moriarty. Either the snow would melt and we’d be able to sneak in and out before the door slammed shut until springtime, or we’d have to find a new spot. I desperately emailed a seasoned Ladakhi guide named Tsering Angchok to get his take on our predicament.

Is the weather windy and cold or just cold right now?

Windy and cold up high, otherwise just cold. The days will be sunny.

Will there be too much snow on Gongmaru La pass next week?

Not much snow. You will cross the pass.

The 10-day weather forecast looked surprisingly stable and we were ultimately swayed by Angchok’s confident and optimistic take.

The first part of the trip took me to Delhi, India’s congested capital, where in the first six hours I committed a sequence of errors that reminded me I was a traveler fresh from the first world. I tried to pay for a taxi with old rupee banknotes that had been recently demonetized by the Indian government. Then, after mistakenly leaving my ATM card in a bank machine,

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