In Keylong, Lahaul Valley

We spent the night in the back of a restaurant in the small village of Khoksar, the first stop after the Rohtang Pass. From Khoksar we had a 45km "flat" ride to Keylong. At the end of the day our GPS read an altitude gain of 700m, so it was not as easy as we had hoped, but the road was traffic-free and the weather lovely.
Midway through the day a jeep pulled over and our friend Jochen popped out! His bicycle was strapped to the roof and he was heading to Keylong to meet us. We hugged briefly and made plans to meet.

A few hours later we were still on the road and I was running out of steam. I was actually unloading my paniers to transfer onto Yann's bike again when Jochen appeared, on his bicycle, wearing flipflops, to join us. He strapped my bags onto his bike and lead us back to Keylong where he had already found us a nice, cheap, clean hotel room with hot showers.

We hadn't seen Jochen in almost 4 years and he looked pretty much the same. We spent the evening feasting at one of Keylong's many tourist-oriented restaurants. We agreed to catch up and to leave talk about onward trip preparation for the next day. We spent two days in Keylong, capital of the Lahaul Valley, the perfect place to relax. Considering the fact that Keylong it is closed to vehicular traffic for most of the year, it seemed busy and its shelves well stocked. The days were warm, the evenings cool and the number of tourists was miniscule compared to neighbouring Manali. Our two days passed quickly as we tried to make plans for the next leg of our trip. We would be attempting to get over the snow-covered, 5091m, Shingo La Pass in the last week of June. We were at the very beginning of the trekking season and we knew that snow storms were not unheard of at this time of year, however we had heard positive reports from travel agents that the pass was open. We arranged to hire pack horses and guides to get us over the pass. This would be the only supported portion of our trip. The trek over Shingo La is considered to be a relatively easy (as far as trekking goes) but we weren't sure that we would be strong enough to do it with our bicycles so early on in our trip. Especially when we were told that there was still multiple feed of snow at the summit.

We left Keylong with an arrangement to meet our guides in the neighbouring village of Darcha which sits close to the trailhead for Shingo La. We left with enough food and fuel for ten days without access to either. For Yann and I this included Maggi brand instant noodles and soups, dried nuts and fruits, and about 20 packages of chocolate "bourbon" cookies which we had purchased without tasting, due to their high calorie content, low cost and their attractive packaging (needless to say this was a strategic food-purchasing mistake).

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