The pain killers did little to alleviate my lower back pain due to the fall from the camel in Humur. Luckily the pain is due to muscle spasm than a broken back. The swellings due to the spasm are going away. After my breakfast i pack spare cloths into my rucksack for white water rafting. I spray volini on the spasm and took a painkiller before departing. I am not sure how effective the pain killer will be as the body works differently in altitude. Its worth to give a try.
I am going to be picked up by a SUV from another tourist operator. The arrangement is made so that the cost will be shared and also can meet some fun people or fellow traveler. Fortunately the group is of four residents from Delhi – a strategy consultant for a pharmaceuticals, a photographer, as advertisement film executive & a student. The plan is to drive to Chilling and river raft to Nimoo. The grade of rafting is Grade III which is difficult passages; narrow in places and with high waves. The drive is around 30 minutes up the mountain by the side of the rapids. One of the group member is terrified upon seeing the rapids and later heard that the others dragged him out of his bed in-spite of his pleading. The rapids look dangerous at several points and need good skills to navigate without capsizing. Its all in the hands of the team spirit and the navigator.
We reach Chilling and immediately realise we are not the only ones to river raft that day. There is a group already waiting to start. There are three rafts and each can hold 8 people in it. Since I am alone, I am more likely to join any group with spare capacity. I prepared myself by wearing wet suits and life jackets. Then we are all given instruction in English for 15 minutes before we started. There are 5 commands instructed by the lead (guide) in the boat who will stear the raft – Forward pedal, backward pedal, stop, left forward right backward and right forward left backward. If commanded to dug by the lead, then all have to move away from the side seating position to center and hold the rope along with the rod. The safety instructions are also explained if someone falls into the river especially how to lift a person into the draft who has fallen into the river. Also a single manned draft will be travelling along to ensure safety of the person if they are pulled away by the tide. The final instruction is not to panic whatever happens & avoid drinking water. Then we set to draft after few trials in a calm part of the river.
My raft is loaded with college students – 3 lads & 4 girls. My destiny is to travel with ever screaming crowd of youngsters in one of the toughest rafting place. On the other its going to be more excitement. All of them are filled with fear having seen the rapids on the way up the mountain to Chilling. My place is front left side of the raft and to take control if the right flank is not upto the mark. I instantly recognised that there is a high chance for us to capsize if the team is not performing together. The only good part is that the lead is a very experienced person. During rafting, our raft is the only one out of three which didn’t overturn. As expected the front right position is useless and i took major chunk of steering during wild rapids. It’s fantastic experience as apart from rafting the rapids, we chase dropped rods, provide temporary hold for people whose rafts overturned and steer into the confluence region of Indus & zanskar. The team work is fantastic and we bonded for 90 minutes and maintained rhythm and steered , encouraged & booed. So far the best 90 minutes of my trip. We are finally pulled out near a camp in Nimoo where I am able to find a tent to change to dry cloth. Lunch is provided by the operator before setting back to Leh.
In the vehicle, conversation went very well with the group of four people i traveled to Chilling. One of them has his brother stationed in Nubra valley as a Indian Army major. So they had the rare glimpse of Indian Army view beyond Humur. They share the experience of para-sailing, shooting & viewing Pakistan bunkers who are watching on Indian side for any border penetration. We exchange contact details and assure to be in touch. Certainly I ticked one of the bucket list I wanted to do for a very long time.