blog day 3 and 4
well what an incredible 24 hrs i have had, full of adventure and then some drama. first things first. we went up the pass yesterday, hired a vehicle and driver and off we went. My first time out of the town and i was keen to see what we are in for and what its like at the top of the pass chang lang la at 5400 metres and the pass road. Words really fail me to describe what i saw yesterday, i wish i was more a literary genius to do justice to the place. The scale of the landscape, the mountains is beyond my comprehensions. I have seen a lot in my life but this takes the cake. The magnitude of the place is just amazing. we climbed up and up and up 2km of vertical ascent. the roads are single lane and narrow, with steep falls over the side. The army presence up here is huge. The province here of kashmir, ladakh is surrounded by china, pakistan, afghanistan and the pass is the only road in and out. its only open 4 months a year and its an engineering feat to keep it open and to have built it with the most basic of tools.
we stopped for breakfast, aloo paratha and pickles at the army station half way up. we were struggling to breath already, even sitting down, the dizziness is disconcerting and its not like the usual breathlessness when runnng up a hill but it makes your stomach feel nauseated your head giddy and the lungs working overtime.
I had my first little run. I started to walk for a start (i am still jet lagged and getting used the heat, dry air and altitude) and got to the top of the pass 5400metres breathless but feeling ok. I then ran down the other side for 7 km tryng to get a feel for it. i have to drink every three or four minutes to combat the dry air and to stop dehydration which is a real problem at altitude as it makes thesymptoms far worse. my head was splitting but i was feeling ok. until i climbed back in the car and had to endure another 70 of wild driving on this curvy single lane road with lots of oncoming traffic (which is going to be a scary problem when fatigued) the road is single lane and when an army truck or bus comes hurtling around the corner coming straight for you all you can do is close your eyes and hope your driver who is constantly toooting the horn and tearing around bends (because we were on a tight time schedule as they close the pass in the evening). The altitude coupled with the freaky driving and heat meant i was very nauseous and desperate to get out by the time we reached diskit our turn around poiint. I promptly fertilised the garden with my stomach contents.
The first but definitely not the last. After a wee stop we went back over the pass home to leh. and i was eyeing up the course as good as i could. The first pass is horrendously long over 45 km uphill that is a dam long way to be puffing and i cant see me running a lot of it but having to walk at this altitude. Half way back we met a large convoy of army trucks. Below us I spied three huge budha statues in random places in the middle of nowhere. yaks grazing, wild dogs loose, wild donkeys and adventurous tourists on motorbikes and the occasional crazy on mountain bikes. Before we reach the top of the pass we were blocked by a big landslide or better said rock avalanche and had to wait while it was cleared and I am thinking, hell i wouldnt want to be buried under that, the slips happen all the time here. The temps at the top were cold but not freezing but this was a sunny day, ithe weather can turn in an instant and dust, rain and snow storms and result. I pray they dont happen during the race.
when we finally made it back downt to leh i went to send an email and discovered that my cameraman had decided at this extremely late stage to withdraw from coming, after i had already paid for him and got his airfare etc. I was gutted. Chris my journalist/crew man from australia who is coming next week went into action and has two possible replacements for me so he is desperately trying to get that organised, the documentary is so important to me and I cant believe that the cameraman could do this to me. I hope chris can get this sorted, another drama i most certainly didnt need.
To be honest this race is going to be amazing but i am very scared and trying to get the body to adapt as quickly as possible but still struggling everyday with breathlessness, headaches and nausea even down in leh. This is going to be an incredible adventure, in fact it is already. This place is incredible
Just skyped with chris and i am so grateful that he is onto this problem.
My mummy is ringing me soon and I am looking forward to hearing her voice.