Why ski, when you can dress up & get pics taken!
As we got onto the slope leading to the resort (the same place where we'd gone into a skid on the night we arrived at the hotel), we found an Innova parked bang down the centre of the road, and a man relieving himself on the mountainside. Considering we were barely a kilometre from the resort, this was a little weird. Irrespective, I stopped the car and we waited patiently for him to return. Strangely, once he was done, he walked up to our car instead of his - 'My car isn't moving' he said. Apparently, there was a 10′ x 50′ patch of black ice, and his car wasn't moving beyond it. The wheels would just spin freely. I had an idea, and offered to try. I backed up my car halfway down the path, and in neutral allowed his car to roll down too, till it reached a patch without any ice. From there I asked him to race up as fast as he could - it helped that the road wasn't curving on this stretch, and was a straight path up a 40 degree incline - hoping the momentum would carry his vehicle past the ice patch. Interestingly, the Innova would zip till about halfway through the ice patch, before the wheels lost all traction and started spinning freely! We both tried this a couple of times, with the same result. These antics of ours had already cost us 30 minutes, and I asked him to move his car aside into a crevice, so at least we could pass, and bring some help back from the resort. The Yeti comfortably navigated through the patch of ice without so much as a murmur, and we once again thanked our stars for having a AWD vehicle! A few 100 meters, and we passed a young lady walking down with the resort manager. It was the wife of the guy stuck below. The manager seemed quite amused with the situation, and told us this happens routinely with 2 wheel drive cars, and he'd have them up in a jiffy. We headed back, and post lunch caught up on some much needed sleep.
Later that evening, we met the same couple again. As it turned out, the resort manager had driven the Innova INTO a bank of snow when he reached the patch with the black ice. Apparently cars get sufficient traction on snow (so long as it isn't too deep), and since the manager knew the terrain, he just drove the car down the side of the hill, which was packed with snow, crossed the patch of black ice, and got back on the road to bring it back. Pretty cool!
We spent the next couple of days skiing in the mornings and trekking around the locality in the evenings. On our second morning, as we were walking back from the skiing slopes, 2 boys aged around 13 approached us, offering to tow the kids back to where our cars were parked. It turned out they were both students of a school in Shimla, back home on their winter break. Both, called Mahesh & Utpal (hope I remember the names correctly!), were quite handy with a ski, and aspired to represent India at the Olympics! They spent their vacations teaching tourists how to ski or towing little kids on their sled, saving the money they earned to buy better equipment (most of which they purchased second - hand). One of their fathers ran a dhaba in the town, and the other a grocery store. We were super - impressed with their poise, confident body - language and strong sense of pride. Their self - belief, that they'd one day represent India at the winter Olympics was a lesson in backing yourself, and working hard to achieve your goals. When I offered to help them pull the sled, they politely refused, and seemed to be enjoying it as much as the two brats sitting on the sled seemed to be enjoying the experience! I've never felt happier paying for a service than I did paying these two entrepreneurs!