Day /Date– Sunday, 26th June
Journey – Leh River Rafting on River Zanskar
Distance – 0 kms on Bike
Road Condition – 2+ grade Zanskar Segment on a 8 man Raft.
Today was fairly lazy, we got up around 8 AM – considering it was our leisure day. Farzin had very bad throat and high fever and he had been coughing all night. I had to re-confirm with him, if he really wants to do white-water rafting in this situation. He said yes in a very non promising tone, and I understood that he is quite screwed. I tried to convince Farzin let’s not overdo anything – we have a long way to go. He agreed and then said he will medicine and see what happen to which I had to agree. We had a quick breakfast @ our guest house.
We reached the meeting point at 9 AM and Farzin bought cough syrup and antibiotics. A Tempo Traveler came at 9:30 and we met a guy named “Prem” of Argentinian origin but settled in Pondicherry with his mother. We also met another Gujju Business group (all of them between 26-28) who are fairly rich and were exploring Leh by SUV.
After picking up the Gujju Gang from there posh hote, we started our journey towards Zanskar River. We reached the starting grid at 10:30 AM (1 hr ride from Leh) and walked towards the river for debrief. All Instructors were kind of Pro’s and I felt that we are in very capable in white water.
All 5 rafts were now deployed and teams were divided. I and Farzin decided to be the Forwadee (Front Paddlers of the Raft). On our Raft we were 6 members(1 Family inc. Uncle, Aunty and 2 lads around 14-15 yr old) and Ram an experienced raft leader. First thing for me was to check water temperature by putting my bare feet and only 2 words I could spell out (f#*k&nG Cold).
After learning the commands and instructions we did a bit of training on steady waters and Ram wasnt very happy with my abilities to be a forwardee on the raft. He got a bit agressive as well, since there was a family along and my best guess was he wasnt expecting much from the family to run the show. I eventually leaned out more of the raft and started to paddle strongly. Farzin and I realized it was not going to be easy 7 km ride.
All rafts started to get in white waters and we were the last raft to step in. Wow, it was like a roller coaster ride – we all were screaming and also paddling. After the first shock the instructor got bit frustrated on everyone saying “its my raft and only I give command”. Sh#t this was serious business, I recalled there is a narrow gorge also en-route which passes below a road bridge. The lady (kids mom) wasn’t very interested, seemed like she was dragged in because of adventurous uncle. There were big and small whirlpools, rocks – all in all fairly bumpy ride, on reaching the gorge the leader told this is the toughest section. Have to say everyone was breathing heavy, there were no trees or vegetation for miles. We followed the Ram’s instructions with forwardee paddling first, rear group following the pattern and Ram making sure raft is in right spot at right time.
Wow, what a ride. We all were joyous, we continued to paddle while the rest of rapids were fairly of lower grade. I saw some of members jumping in river from the raft, and I jumped asking farzin to drag me up with the techniques we learnt. Wow – the body was chilled in 5-7 secs to the bones. Heavy weight Farzin easily dragged me up. The guy from Argentina even dared to swim to the shore about 30 odd m swim and was super freezed. We reached the shore and changed in bus which were waiting for us to take back to Leh.
Enroute to our surprise there was lunch organized by the tour organizer. We had the much needed lunch and reached Leh back by 3PM dead tired, cold.
I decided to doze up and woke up at 6:30 PM. Rest of the day was lazy and we roamed around Leh Market and had food at local cafe to call it a day.