We were literally freezing our backsides off but the thrill of camping in the mountains was the experience of a lifetime. It takes some kind of wacked out off-road enthusiasts to come up with a plan to drive from Gujarat all the way to Spiti Valley and that is what the Off-road Club of Gujarat (OCG) is all about. OCG is a motley crew of people, now like-family. Cdr Mukul Rathi, an ex-navy officer, who runs an adventure company called Blue Marlin helped us plan the entire trip. Vehicles all ready, checklists ticked-off, office schedules either adjusted or ignored, nine cars were ready for an adventure to the mountains (three Thars, three Pajeros, one Gypsy, Fortuner and Endeavour each).
We rolled out at the crack of dawn from Ahmedabad and made our way towards Neemrana, our first night halt. Tethys Ski Resort in Narkhanda beyond Shimla was our next stop, where we met Sam and Puneet, our guides/saviours for the rest of the trip. After an encouraging pep talk we rolled out on our maiden snow adventure. Living in Gujarat, snow for us was bliss and we did not want the adventure to end soon. So we decided to indulge in a little snow-bashing before heading to Spiti Valley. Sam and Puneet took our thrill of snow driving a little too seriously and we ended up camping two nights near Rohru by the Pabbar Valley.
Two days by the river side in freezing temperatures helped us get acclimatised and ready to face the snow gods of Spiti Valley. Hungry for off-roading, we took the route less travelled towards Sarahan. As luck would have it, the convoy of cars made it through the snow laden roads, but our food truck (a mini van) got stuck. While some of the guys were busy winching the van out, the selfie kings of the group spotted pug marks – a snow leopard had crossed our path! But don’t worry, all of us made it to bed safe and sound!