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Earlier in April this year, while the otherwise isolated Ladakh was gearing up for the upcoming tourist season, Ali Sajid and his 4×4 clan decided to embark on an ‘apricot blossom hunt’. Apricot blossom marks the onset of the spring season in the region, and the Batalik area witnesses it first, much earlier before the whole cold desert turns into these gorgeous hues of pinks and whites.

Being amongst the first few civilian vehicles to cross the Zojila Pass this season, the team navigated through 15-20 feet high walls of snow on either side along the narrow serpentine curves. On reaching the remote Aryan valley, the drivers were treated to heavily laden floral avenues and light winds blowing right on top of the Indus. The following day was spent with the local community, relishing local food, the spring festival, and dancing to folklore.

Sudden changes in weather conditions caused the initially planned three-day trip to be extended. Hit by heavy rainfall and snowfall, the team decided to take a detour towards Lamayuru, the ‘moonland’. This stretch of the drive was totally off-the-road. Aiming to cross the pass the next day, it started snowing heavily, causing roadblocks due to landslides and avalanches. The team agreed to stay at Kargil till the highway cleared, and they were warmly treated to the hospitality of the locals.

Fresh and re-energised , they were ready to take up any more challenges that might have come their way. Thanks to the news of the highway getting cleared, the team finally embarked on their drive back to their base, making this whole experience nothing short of a full-fledged adventure.