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Nako
descent

Sat: Nako – Ribba (80km, 590m of ascent)

From the zigzags down there’s a tremendous view over the Spiti valley, and the oasis of Leo village. People have terraced the scree slopes and planted orchards – it’s incredible what they have made out of such unpromising land. The road is precipitous, cut into the cliffs. Gusty winds blow us around. After Ka the road swoops down hairpins to the river, and meets the Sutlej at Khab bridge. The road crosses the river and climbs; the river drops. We wind our way round to Puh.

Apples

Opposite we watch ponies on a narrow path on the cliffs, hesitating. They’re carrying the all important apple harvest. There are apples everywhere: big, red apples on the trees, apples on horses, in crates, whizzing along cableways, packed into trucks. Puh has a big shop (apple biscuits!) but no dhabas and it’s 26km before Spello where there are. Spello bears no resemblance whatsoever to Spello, Umbria. For example there are no frescos.

We continue through an eminently uncampable gorge. There are no side streams and no flat spots. The orchard which we believe to be Jangi did not have a side stream. The south side of the river looks better, but the village Morang is across and up. We plod along, then the road crosses. Although there are villages around it doesn’t look as promising as we’d hoped. We eventually find a tiny flat spot on flood debris above a side stream near Ribba. (Ribba is noted for its cognac. We never found the village, nor any cognac).

Notes: According to the Lonely Planet we should have seen resthouses at several places and truckers eating mountains of food in dhabas at Puh. According to the Footprint there is a forest resthouse at Morang, which in any case is an attractive village.

The ride from Khab to Ribba had its interest but was less enjoyable than most of the trip. A headwind didn’t help.

Sun: Ribba – Kalpa (31km, 975m of ascent)

The road crosses back, at times it’s cut into the cliffs. We round a bend to find the astonishing sight of huge snowy mountains – Kinner Kailash. Recong Peo is high above us and looks for all the world like an Alpine ski station. Little by little, trees have been creeping onto the hillsides. If it is a hard enough climb (300m in 7km) to Peo, the next 7km, 450m are serious stuff, but the mountain views are your reward.

Kalpa

Kalpa was yet another lovely place. We made for Kinner Villa, a good place a little way out of town though a big way up: a 20% gradient, of all cruelties. Kalpa is amidst orchards dripping with fruit, the trees hanging low over the lanes, stone walls and green paths between. The village is built in wood, the temple complex intricately carved with gods and fabulous beasts, a crocodile stalks a pigeon.

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