Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Long Walk - Gaurav's Sikkim Trip : Part 3

Day 1 was literally a slap in the face for all of us. We geared ourselves up with only moderate amount of stuff in our daypack, put on the famous 60 SPF sunscreen and sunglasses and embarked upon the trail. The initial part of the terrain was a friendly mix of ascents and descents. The foliage was thick and many species of birds could be seen and heard. We crossed two temporary rope bridges, stopping occasionally for water or pleasant views of the stream below, before we reached our lunch halt. We applauded ourselves when Sujoy – the Guide told us that our pace was alright and we had completed 8-9 kilometers already.

After a relaxed lunch consisting of poori, sabzi, soup, with some fruits and lemonade, we proceeded towards the third bridge. Sujoy pointed towards Tsokha on a far-away hill. I laughed it off thinking he was trying to freak us out; said, “Tsokha cannot be that far. It has to be Dzongri.” Sujoy looked back at me with a queer smile. Now, I totally know what the smile had meant.

Once we crossed the bridge, we entered the Kanchenjunga National Sanctuary and for the rest of the day we never descended. By now, all of us had started walking at our own paces, stopping once in a while to wipe off the sweat, grab a sip of water or a bite of a chocolate. Soon, I stopped enjoying the vegetation and the birds. I was nearing exhaustion and the walk never seemed to be getting over. My over - enthusiasm was soon doused with tiredness. I just wanted the day to get over; so did S, I think. Both of us were walking faster than we should have, causing exhaustion. N and P, on the other hand paced themselves well. As the day passed by, the weather started to deteriorate. Thick mist and clouds had descended into the valley and it got considerably chilly.

After a long walk that seemed eternal, the first view of a few huts was available. I let my relief and elation get the better of my common sense and sped up to reach the huts; only to realize that Tsokha was still a good 4 kms away and I had just reached Bakhim. My huge grin disappeared with the mist. I removed the day - pack from my back and sat down near the hut. S was visible at a distance. He had a similar relieved smile, I liked to believe, and I made no efforts to warn him of the place not being Tsokha. S soon figured that out and we started laughing hysterically at ourselves the moment he reached. The two of us spent 5 to 10 minutes pointing out each flower and bird visible to us and apportioning trip expenditure to each. “That flower is for the Rs. 500 I spent on new sunscreen”, “That bird is the Rs. 4000 I spent on new shoes,” Etc. All the investment in the brand new trekking shoes, backpacks, sunscreens and raincoats; for this ? We incurred so much expenditure for the sake of exhaustion, fatigue and frustration!

Meanwhile, the porters arrived as well and we had a much - needed cup of tea at the hut before moving on for another relentless 4 kms. Slow and unsteady, I finally did reach Tsokha. I was terribly cold. It was almost dark when I reached and it was windy, chilly and cruel. I went straight into the kitchen and sat as close to the stove as possible, half dead. I asked the calm - looking cook, “Is it just me???” He looked at me, laughed and said, “Nah, everyone goes through the same shit. You will be alright in a while” as he served a cup of hot tea. Meanwhile S arrived too and we had another hot drink before proceeding to the tent, evaluating strategies to brave the cold. P and N soon followed and found us in the tents. Z came in an hour later with Sujoy. She was terribly exhausted too and had serious doubts about her health. We had a silent dinner, contemplating the action plan for the next day. After a brief discussion, we decided to ease our ascent to the top. So, the next day was a shorter, 4-5 km walk to Pethang, not staright to Dzongri. I walked a little after dinner, avoiding the pegs of the tent in the dark, before getting back into the tent. The old back pain that I had, had resurfaced and I was not happy about it.

Gaurav Jain


Anita said...

Reading this trip series with great interest. Totally agree that the flowers and mountains and all are very nice in a trek but the walk is really tiring.

Entropy said...

Hi Anita,
Glad you are enjoying the series.

Gaurav, take a bow. (after that, go straight to your comp and write more stuff for this blog)

Entropy said...
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Entropy said...
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