Feature: Rock and hard place

Breathe in; breathe out.

It’s only my second day in the mountains, and I am far from able to reverse onto a ledge like it was a football field, even with the XC40’s compact dimensions, to let oncoming traffic through. Day one was a treat with smooth surfaces and clearly marked lanes. Today, however, is a different story as we approach a certain Sach Pass at roughly 14,500 feet. This is a corner of Himachal that is seldom explored. There isn’t any tarmac, no. Instead, the road has been made from the rubble that has come off these jagged mountain sides.

The locals sure weren’t messing about when they estimated the drive to our next stop – Killar (70km away) – would take in excess of five hours. Without any stoppages that is. Good thing we stopped for a fill of rajma chawal and a good night’s sleep before attempting the next leg. Did I happen to mention, they had spotted a loitering leopard as well?