Monday, April 28, 2008

Sikkim Trek - Day 2 - Day 7

Last night after camping at our tents we left next morning at eight. However, the previous night was fun. We sang in our tents while our Dzo's (a mix of Yak and Cow) bell kept tinkering all night long.

The hike today is supposed to be the steepest. We'll be ascending 1100 meters in total just today. After two long hours of trek we are now taking a break at Bakhim. Here surprisingly we have cold drinks, tea, biscuits and even Bollywood numbers on the local radio.

Will be resuming soon... So see ya...

8th Aug 2008 - And I didn't !!

I had been contemplating of finishing this series of blogs on my Sikkim Trek for ages now but haven't been successful at all. I couldn't continue mo-blogging after Day 2 because all the signal that I got up there, were from either Bhutan or Bangladesh. I carried an extra basic handset for phone calls and my Nokia E61 for blogging.

The evening after second day's trek was real fun after we camped at Tshoka (just a few 100 meters above Bakhim). The superstar of Tshoka was definitely a sweet little child called Nanji. She is about 2 years old but has exceptional learning capabilities. More than anything she is jaw-dropping adorable and a lot of fun to be with. Have a look at her posing for snaps. I guess people up there, grow up to be very tourist-friendly.

"Day 3 is going to be very challenging", we heard Baichung (our Guide) say at dinner. We were on our way to Dzongri via Phedang. The trek was pretty long, so much that we stopped by at Phedang for lunch. I was dead tired by then and my legs were giving up every 50 meters. The lack of oxygen was started to show on me finally. In spite of being extremely cold I was sweating a lot. I was wearing a thick jacket to keep myself warm. Baichung noticed the problem and helped me out here and asked me to get rid of the jacket. I wrapped it up in my backpack and continued. Apparently, the heat was getting trapped in the jacket and that made me de-hydrate a lot.

We finally reached at Dzongri around 2 PM. On our way we passed a phase that was appropriately called "Heavenly Path". Sikkim govt. has made a stairway on this path thats made out of wood. We passed through the clouds when we took the steep ascent to Dzongri.

Day 4 was a piece of cake. We had to descend 800 meters to reach a place called Thansing. We went along a river stream and the whole trek was fun. We saw a lot beautiful birds on the way. We were just 2 days away from Goecha La and Mt. Kanchenjunga. I could feel the spring on my feet as we reached our camping spot in around 4 hours of time. Moreover, we were told we'd be seeing some snow-capped peaks from very close. Once we reached there we had ample time for cricket! It was cloudy as well as windy but nothing could stop our cricket.

But, suddenly the skies cleared for a few minutes and we saw the gigantic, the most breath-taking view of Mt. Pandim. We saw it from quite a distance from Tshoka a couple of days back. But back then, it just looked like any other mountain from that far. Now, it stood ahead of us with its snow capped peak shining in its full gleam because of the sunset. Everyone stopped doing what they were. People came running out from the tents just to capture this moment in their minds (and cameras). The next morning we woke up Pandim was clearly visible. So was the ridge of Kanchenjunga (on the left).

Day 5 was supposed to be simple, as we would be going to the last camping spot before Goecha La. The placed is called Lamuney and that can be seen on the picture above as well. There was no ascend on Day 5 and we just wanted to reach as close to Goecha La as possible. The trek took less than three hours. We met a few folks who were returning from Goecha La and very extremely upbeat about the view from there. They also spoke about Samiti Lake and the Deers and the Snow Leopards! I just said to myself, "That can't be true!"

On Day 6, we started at 2 AM in the morning. "We must cross Samiti Lake and the view-point before the sun breaks.", was what Baichung told everyone. With our flash-lights and six-layers of clothing, we started trekking in the dark. Samiti lake went and passed by, while no one noticed it in the dark. Just before the dawn broke, we reached the view point. We could see Mt. Kanchenjunga right in front of us. "Yes!", I exclaimed. I was in the foot hills of India's highest peak. We were at around 5000 meters above sea level. (Trivia: Mt. K2 is in PoK and is unofficially India's largest and world's second largest peak)

People started moving towards Goecha La for which we had to cross a lake-turned-desert. It was extremely tough. We saw frozen lakes as the temperature was just below zero now. We had to reach back to Lamuney for lunch and then head even further back to Thansing for camping by the end of the day. On our way back we saw the beautiful Samiti lake and the Deers (but no Snow Leopard!). We also saw a rare species of Golden Ducks. Here are the pics:

On Day 6 and Day 7, we descended to Yuksom via Tshoka-Bakhim-Lachen. We met Nanji again, but had to continue our descent so didn't spend much time with her. We reached Yuksom on Day 7 and it was great to see civilization once again. Schools/monastries/homes/restaurants they all looked very soothing to the eyes. But at night, on my hotel room while I was trying to sleep, I started remembering all the breath-taking views we encountered. Esp. that of Kanchenjunga and Pandim and felt really nostalgic about it. I am definitely gonna cherish this trek for my entire life. I'll leave you with a few pictures from the trek.

And ya, how can I not mention about our trip to Gurudongmar Lake on North-east Sikkim.! We went there on two jeeps and went upto 5100 meters above sea level in the next couple of days. I will just leave you with one serene pic of Gurudongmar Lake. There's nothing purer than this. Click on the pic to enlarge.

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