A Trek to the Kanchendzonga
This particular piece is one that my sister has penned down about the trekking experience at Kanchendzonga. I have put up several photos of the trek in my flickr account as well.
“I was standing at the top of the world and looking up at what surely must be the heavens. The sun was to appear any minute. Staring intently, I could make out the snow-capped mountains rising into the darkness above.
Suddenly, the magical moment was on me. The first rays of the sun hit the top of the towering Kanchenjunga. It was like a huge candle that had been lit. Transfixed, I watched the flame spread along the ridges as the sun rose and then shine its beams on the Kabru complex. Over the next few minutes, I watched the grey mountain tops turn to a brilliant gold and then to sparkling white.
Words failed me. I vaguely remembered a quote that my father often used “Words are so inadequate’. This is what we had set out to see, and now it was on us. All the pain of the climb, not to mention the preparation for the trek, had vanished. In its place was an indescribable beauty. I must have stood there gazing at the grand spectacle for what seemed like an eternity!
The preparation began in earnest after Pongal. My father would wake my sister and me at an unearthly hour in the morning and we would hoof it sleepily to Nageshwar Rao Park for an hour’s jog each morning followed by skipping a rope a few hundred times. A game of badminton in the evening had to be accommodated amid preparations for my class X board exams.
On April 19, a physically fit group assembled at Chennai airport. We were to fly to Kolkata and then to Bagdogra, from where we would board a bus to Gangtok. After a two-day stay at Gangtok, we left for Yuksom, the first capital of Sikkim. Our trek to GoechaLa pass began here. The first day was an easy walk of about eight km. The trek on day two and three was tough, as we had a steep climb through the lush jungle. The massive rhododendron trees were in full bloom and the sights and sounds of the jungle and mountain streams made it unforgettable.
As we climbed higher and higher, the size of the rhododendron trees became noticeably smaller and were the size of mere shrubs at over 12,000 ft. Taking many photographs on the way, we reached Dongri (12,500 ft) on the third day. A day of rest and acclimatisation left us refreshed to continue on day five.
A sharp descent down to the Pretchu was followed by a steep climb to Tanzing at the foot of the giant conical peak of Mount Pandim. After suffering icy conditions during the night (it snowed briefly), we left for our next campsite at Lambi, a couple of hours away.
Day seven: Wake up call was at midnight! We had to leave at 1.00 a.m. if we were to reach GoechaLa to meet the sunrise. In pitch darkness and aided by torch lights, we went past a glacial lake, Samiti. Initially we were walking on just rocks and sand; later we were walking on snow and moraines.
Around 5.30 a.m., a voice announced “Welcome to GoechaLa view point”. Wearily we found a rock to sit on and wait for the sun to signal the dawn of another day. The splendour of seeing those magnificent mountains, and that too so many of them, at close quarters cannot be described but has to be experienced.
The walk back to Yuksom was uneventful. In all, we had covered over 110 km on foot! The average speed was around 1.5 km an hour, which gives you an idea of the tough terrain. We kept reliving the joyous moments all the way down. Perhaps, I will never tire of telling tales of this trek. I can’t wait for my next trek in Bhutan!”
This article was published in the nxG.