Let me start by saying - I wasn't part of planning and preparations for this trip. There was no flight or visa requirements, so I opted out of the preparation and route bit of this trip. Amit was looking on the suggested routes. A friend tried helping with the accommodations on the way mainly at the places where we are supposed to rest. Another friend helped us by giving the tracking device just in case of an eventuality on the way. Another friend was our go to guy in case of an unfortunate event on the way. The only planning that came from me for this trip was the idea of walking from 'Bir to Leh'. Our initial plan was to trek from 'Bir to Manali' and onwards to Keylong. But the Kugti route seemed more unique and less travelled. Happy that we went with this route. First the route to Manali via Bara Bangal got shut due to glacier melt and Kugti Pass was one difficult pass to cross, so it was a good challenge to take. Amit researched on the routes. The idea was to put together different trek routes together and make it to Leh. These routes are not popular on the trekking circuit so it appeals to us even more. Some people were suggesting walking on the road but we can never do that. Walking with heavy traffic amidst the dust and pollution is not our idea of adventure. We decide to break the journey in 4 sections; - Utrala to Kugti - Kugti to Keylong - Darcha to Padum - Padum to Leh-valley We were self reliant when it came to shelter. Equipped with tent, sleeping mats and sleeping bags. After last years 'Scandinavian disaster' we decided to go with lighter gear. It worked wonders. We loved walking with the lighter backpacks while rest of our group members were having difficult moments with their backpacks. One thing that was really helpful was a walking stick. While climbing up or going downhill it was a wonderful addition to my equipment as I was not planning to carry it earlier. Well all credit to Amit, on selecting the perfect gear for the trip. For food, we decide to make our way to the next available village or a small shop in the mountain. We were equipped with emergency food plus day to day nick knacks. Snickers and nuts were our choice of power food. A total of 7 of us were ready to leave on this trip. It was not our plan for sure. We always prefer to travel by ourselves as "more the merrier" is not our cup of tea. Very soon on the trip we realise our previous policy of just two of us makes a lot of sense. There was no final date to leave as had to wait for a friend to finish work and finally we were all set to leave on 4th Aug. While waiting we missed out on a week of sunny days and happen to start our walk on a rainy day.....
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