My speed up the mountain was frantic, at first there was no other traffic so I would rev the engine high to make the steep climbs and slow down to make the turn on the winding dirt road and even at times tilt the bike using gravity as a leverage to make the sharp turns without slowing down too much.
I made some skids and slides in order to make quick turns knowing I would be safe as there was no edge in the direction I was making the turns. At times I would drive up long track of road with gravel and finely chopped rocks on the road where I had to choose the best place to go over in order to keep my tires from cutting though I had very little choice.
As I kept climbing in high speeds I realized something .... I was warm but my face was cold. In fact I felt something that was a bit of a problem for me.
My nose began running due to cold wind coming through my helmet onto my face. What was so difficult was I needed both hands on the handle bars with full attentiveness and had no chance of cleaning my nose so I kept sniffling for a while until it became uncontrollable so I pulled over on the side where I found a bit of balanced track of road. I got off the bike found the paper roll in my back pack and took out a whole lot of paper to use for the remaining part of my ride up the mountain.
I mounted my bike and again started rushing up the mountain in high speed but it began to get darker and darker and colder and colder.
It go real dark and my HID came one and was doing real well until I felt clouds all around me. I then realize my worst nightmare. How the heck will I see in the heavy clouds in the dark because as I drove further and further up the mountain the headlight although working extremely well, was beginning to bounce back from the clouds and I was hardly seeing anything but white cloud in front. The HID would reflect back and I would see nothing.
Naturally, I had to slow down but that was not an option because in order to keep the momentum going I needed to keep moving or I may get to a point where the bike could roll back.
I began to shiver and after so many years, and I do many may years, did I feel my teeth chatter from the cold.
I kept going on at a much slower speed now and gave full attention not to the road ahead, since I couldn't see any road. But I was looking maybe 3 to 5 feet in front of my front tire only. That was all I could see.
My fear was missing a turn and going off the edge of the mountain.
I was going zig zag now because the bike could not climb at such slow speeds up such a steep mountain so in order to keep the momentum going I would go from right to left to right to left and make sure bike kept moving.
It was getting more and more colder, and less and less visible and I then realized I should have taken up the offer of the man in the last village or even stayed the night at Shinvari Restaurant.
But at this stage I had no other choice but to carry one. I kept driving in the dark and then felt a smooth road beneath me. This was a shear signal that I was coming close to the Army Check Post at Babusar Top... And the first thought that crossed my mind was ......
YES .... CHAI
Well in that shivering condition I thought I approached the check post since but wasn't sure because I could not see anything but knew there was nothing other than a check post on the paved road.
But the check post never came. Well it did come only I was driving so slow due to no visibility that it was taking me forever to get to it and I needed a hot cup of Tea when I got there.
Soon I came to a spot where I could see a rope crossing the road five feet ahead of me so I stopped but could not see around me as to where all the officers were. I heard a voice from the right and suddenly a dim light appeared a few feet away from me. It was an army officer with a flashlight walking towards me and asking me to come with him to register.
I kept the bike running and turned off the HID but kept the low lamp on to make sure I can find the bike in this pitch darkness. The first thing I said to him was, "Kal ap ne Chai ki offer di thi lekin me jaldi me tha to nahi pee. Aj pehle Chai pila do phir bat karte hen". He said, "Chai vala to ja chuka ha or abi ma akela hu sari rat". I was so disappointed.
But what I wondered is why he would be alone an entire night? I asked and he said that at night no one really goes through here so no need for too many jawans. I asked is there no traffic at all during the night? He said there is the odd truck but due to the heavy cloud there will be no one coming or going until the morning.
That troubled me even more. I asked if there was any place for me to stay the night here and he said no, its best you keep going and make it to the bottom since the cloud will lighten up as you go further down. He also said that due to security reasons we are not permitted to allow anyone staying here with us overnight.
I accepted and after checking in I turned back to the bike and all I saw was a glow of dim light in the clouds and total darkness ..... as in BLACK ... REAL BLACK DARKNESS all around.
I gathered my strength and walked to the bike and when I looked back I could not see the officer and as I mounted the bike I noticed the rope in front of my front tire move down and drop on the road which meant he was near the post and let down the rope for me to pass, but I still could not see him in this dense cloud.
I began to drive again and had trouble determining the direction of the road but kept following the direction of the angle of the paved road and could tell by the contour of the road that it was about to turn so followed the turn all the wile shivery and teeth chattering.
I was now extremely cold as the wind was going through two layers of gloves, my jacket was warm but I could feel a breeze go through the jacket somehow, my body core was getting cold and my cheeks felt as if they were stiff due to extreme cold. I am not sure if it was below zero but maybe it was, certainly with the windchill.
I then came to a point where the clouds were so dense I just could not see anything, even an inch in front of me. In fact I could not see even the front tire and only the glow of light. This was a big problem now since I was back on the gravel road and knew very well I was very high up on the mountain since it was still a long drive down because I had driven past here the day before and knew how high I still was. The only positive thing was that since I was heading down the mountain I had no worry of the bike turning off and could easily drive in neutral using my breaks in first gear.
Due to the fact I could not see the road any longer, let alone in which direction it was turning I decided to stop and kept the bike running. I was freezing, I was frustrated and didn't know what to do.
At that moment I realized I had no other alternative but to stop. It was too cold, and nothing to see so I needed to first preserve my body heat and decided I needed to get the sleeping bag out and bundle up for the night and just sleep right here since there was nothing I could see and no one else would come this way as they also could not see a thing.
But to be on the safe side I wanted to find the side of the mountain where I could sit against and park my bike next to in order to clear the middle of the road. Now how would I do that, I thought.
I was still sitting on my bike and for a moment reached down to the right side and touched the hot silencer of the bike with my right hand (inside glove) but could not feel much other than a wee bit of warmth. I thought the glove might burn before I feel any heat on the inside. I just sat there thinking of my options. How much would I sleep I sleep?
I looked at my watch and realized what the heck will I see in the dark, I leaned forward and reached my hand out in front of the headlight and saw it was only 8 pm. This was not good. If its this cold at 8 pm what will it be like at 1 am or 2 am?
I then realized it was futile to stay here the night no matter how much I bundle up in the sleeping back as it may not protect me from the cold that is still yet to come at late night.
I then decided I need to keep moving. While still sitting on the bike I reached behind me and felt for the emergency light I had on me which I knew was fully charged. I got off my bike, could not see a thing but was able to feel my bag and the opening zipper and had to take off my gloves to open the zipper and pull out the emergency light without dropping anything else out of the bad in the dark. I first went to the silencer and rubbed my hands in the moist air of the exhaust coming out, I didn't have a choice but to warm them up. Then I came to the back pack and with the rear red light I was able to see the edge of the bag and pull out the light and as soon as my hand touched the inside of the bag to feel the light I first felt for the on switch so the light was on even before it came out of the bag and I made sure nothing else dropped out.
I put my gloves back on and with the light pointing to the ground in front of me I began to walk around my bike in small circles while the bike engine was still running and the head light on full beam. I gradually began to make larger circles as I walked farther around the bike looking for darkness in the road. When I saw the dark nothing in front of me I knew that was the edge of the mountain and then I walked back a bit and looked at the ground again to my right and left and by doing so I was able to figure out where NOT to Go.
I came back to the bike, sat on it, turned off the light and put it back in my pocket, zipped up my pocket and began to drive in the direction I assumed the road to be. I drove ever so slowly in first gear trying to balance the bike and touching my feet on the ground due to very slow speed. As I began to drive I realized I was going up. I thought how can that be, but then I thought this may be a temporary climb in the road ahead so drove for another few feet until I saw the road turn to the left and a steep climb. I stopped. I realized I was heading back up the mountain and in the wrong direction.
I turned the bike around very carefully and rolled down hill again and remembered where I had come up from a few feet ago.
I kept praying and rolling down an inch at a time all the while looking down to the right and left for any dark patches which meant edge of the mountain. I had my head leaned forward as close as possible to the headlight to get a view of the tire and road below. I knew that if I even see an inch of darkness I will jam both breaks in order to prevent myself from rolling down the mountain.
I kept this going for quite some time and soon noticed I was able to see a few inches ahead of my tire without leaning forward and realized I was coming down the mountain enough now that the clouds were gradually dissipating. Only then did I realize I wasn't as cold any more, well it was still very cold but my teeth were not chattering and I was not shivering as much.
This gave me a bit of energy and hope and I carried on. I then came to a dirt road, no rocks or gravel, only dirt. I drove as much as I could then realized I was facing a dark patch in front of me and to my left as well as the right. I was very confused as the road suddenly vanished and I was at the edge of the cliff on three sides.
I again got off my bike, made circles around my bike with the emergency light and and as I came close to the left side and the front, they were indeed very dark and certainly the edge of the mountain. So I checked the right side and saw that there was a road but it had a sudden dip in it which I could not see past the edge from my bike. I walked down that dip for a few yards to confirm that indeed it was the road and then came back up to the bike where the light was brightly lit. I mounted the bike and began towards the steep descent.
This went on for quite some time and eventually it got a bit more clearer and I had more visibility although not perfectly clear. I then came to what looked like a bridge and uneven ground all around as if work was going on in that area. This meant i must be near a village though I could not see any light anywhere. When I came to getting on to the little wooden bridge, for some reason I could not recognize it from the day before but I knew there was only one road to Naran and I was on it. I parked my bike just before getting onto this small wooden bridge and then realized it was a broken bridge from the middle, there was no bridge. Now I knew I had not gone over this yesterday so there must be another bridge close by.
As I walked around this uneven dry mud/dirt area to my left I saw a metal frame and as I came closer to it with my emergency light I could see a bridge but it was almost 4 feet higher than I was. So i traced the route and saw that there was a mud road at higher elevation that was leading to this bridge. I walked on the side of this road leading back to my bike in a distance.
When I got on my bike I followed that uphill direction and reached the bridge. This was the third and last time I had to get off my bike to check out the surroundings for safety but I was glad I had that emergency light on me.
Soon the clouds lightened up but still it was pitch dark and the road became paved in some areas and straight, I was off the mountain.
As I sped up now on the clear road I felt cold again with the speed and wind but had no other choice but to drive on. I soon smelt a fragrance which meant there was someone burning wood but could not see anything.
The road turned I think and in a distance I saw a small dim red light which meant FIRE !!! I kept driving and as I got closer I saw that it was a hut of some kind with Fire burning inside and the road got wider and I slowed down and saw trucks parked on the side and a few mini vans as well.