It is often said that the best planned trips never occur and the trips that occur are impromptu ones. Entering the month of October 2018 we had no clue that we were about to embark on a Trip of our lifetime.
I was randomly surfing through Facebook that lazy evening when I happened to notice an advertisement in the 4×4 India FB page. It was a Snow Drive from Narkhanda to be done in January 2019. As usual I kept staring at the pic of a snow clad jeep in Tundra conditions when suddenly my day dream changed to a spark in my head. I took a screenshot of the pic and took it to Aadi. Aadi who was busy reading newspaper looked at me mildly irritated as I was jumping around her with barely concealed excitement. She read the ad, looked at me, looked again at the ad and went back to reading. She asked me to do the homework for the trip and see if we can do it.
That started the ball rolling on a lot of phone calls to the Jeep Captain – Shibu Varghese, frantic budgeting and a literal mountain of purchases to be done from Amazon, Decathlon and Olive Planet. We had to buy complete wardrobes of winter wear, multiple layers of it. None of us have really been into a Tundra adventure like this and being mindful of Aadi and her sensitivity to cold I went a bit overboard in buying up supplies for the trip, looking at everything from electric blankets to Hexamine stoves and finally settling on chemical hand warmers.
We knew that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for us. At that time we had money, health and time to do this. Who knows when we would be able to make such a cross country drive again so we planned our itinerary in such a way that we can truly see a lot of India in this trip. But then again we all know about best laid plans.
By the end of December we had our leaves sorted, the stream of deliveries to our home was trickling to a halt and my Thar was freshly serviced and ready for the trip. There was considerable heartburn for me at being vetoed in my suggestion to fix Fog lamps on the jeep. Ancalagon was with me for three years and I had barely done any modification on him. But then again one listens to the higher powers.
Finally on the 11th of January after reaching early from office I and Aadi started packing our jeep. The winter clothes as well as extra shoes and tundra emergency items were consigned in the big travel bag I got from Miami. We had three 20 Liter Jerry cans, two 20 Liter water cans, two ten liter water cans, my complete tool kit, an emergency go to bag and of course our regular daily backpacks. It was a miracle that I could see anything at all through my rear view mirrors but I knew a couple of potholes and everything would settle down nicely. We also had carried several gunny bags, tarpaulin sheets for keeping engine warm in snow and a thousand odd thingummies that we bought in our paranoia.
I knew it would be a struggle. It always has been a struggle to go to sleep the night before a trip. At least in this case my prediction came true. I could barely sleep the night of 11th. I was tossing and turning throughout the night. But I also did not panic. I knew that the next day would be hard but I also knew that the sleep I would get in Pune after 800 kms of hard driving after a sleep deprived and excitable night would be the best sleep I would have had in years.