"…that this was pleasingly beautiful, while the other was sublimely grand" -Meriwether Lewis, June 14, 1805
Inner Line: Sumdo to Jangi
Perhaps still fallowing the Spiti, the vibe after Tabo changes sufficiently enough to warrant a subsection (Nako for example is still along the Spiti before its confluence with the Sutlej though it is in the district of Kinnaur). Sumdo is the first checkpoint where military police allow only tourists with an inner-line permit in hand (a document assembled in Kaza, if traveling clockwise, from your own provided 2×2 photograph and their rubber cement; out of season, it took days to find an official to do the task). Here the Parchu Rivers flow out of disputed land to east and join the Spiti near the station’s bridge: China’s claims cross the recognized International Boundary though in these remote stretches you are certainly not likely to ever find yourself in crossfire. After a brief inspection and answering a few questions, the bar is raised and I cross the Spiti and the valley tappers so that I am running out of sides, and the road must climb. Nearer the top, the visible Leo Pagral (6727) sits halfway in Xizang Zizhiqu (Tibet) to the east, its other half stateless. A tiny shack pitched along the roadway just after Nako is designated the world’s highest dispute resolution meeting place. And it is breath taking Himalayan road engineering and motorcycling at its finest.