Goecha La Trek: Day 3 - Tshoka to Dzongri

The day starts quite early in the mountains. By 4 in the morning people will be up and on with the day's chores. I woke up to the sound of the Yak bells. The Yaks are let loose every evening for grazing and then rounded up the next morning. They rarely stray too far, generally stay together as a herd and the bells on their neck help to locate them. I was treated with an awesome view of the snow clad mount Pandim as I crept out of the tent. The sun was almost out and Tshoka looked beautiful in the morning light.

Tshoka is a small village with some 10 houses and a couple of wooden cabins for the trekkers. There is a small lake right in the middle of the village and a small Buddhist temple on a hillock. The whole arrangement of houses and the green pastures reminded me of the Shire from LOTR. After some hot coffee and a quick breakfast of Chole-Batura, we started the day's trek by 7. Our destination was a log cabin at Dzongri, at an altitude of 4,020 meters. Altitude had started taking its toll and a few in our group were having headaches and dizziness even after a good night's acclimatisation. We had to gain another 1,000 meters altitude to reach Dzongri and the rains in the night had made the pathways a lot slippery. At some places where it is steep and muddy, wooden logs were laden along the pathway and this made an otherwise strenuous climb a lot easy. It was around Tshoka that we saw the first Rhododendrons.

We were passing through Rhododendron territory and they were all around, in all colors ranging from the reds to the purples to the yellows to the whites. You find them in patches of a single color, painting an entire hillside or valley red or yellow. Almost midway to Dzongri, in the middle of red and yellow rhododendron forest is a meadow called Phedang. There is a small log cabin there as well and trekkers generally stop here for lunch. Soon we unpacked all the left over chole-bature from breakfast and sat down for some much needed rest and lunch. There was heavy mist all around and with the swift winds it was playing hide and seek on the landscape. It was wonderful to sit there amidst all the color and enjoy the lunch on a Tuesday afternoon. The dogs, Wolfi, Zulu and Dusty were running all around chasing pieces of cloud here and there, when they are not sharing lunch with one of us.

It was getting too misty to walk as we finished dinner, nevertheless we resumed our journey to Dzongri. Phedang to Dzongri is a wonderful climb through dense Rhododendron forests; there are more than 400 flowering species it seems! After a few hours of walk the vegetation gets thinner and you find only small bushes and shrubs. The sky was looking menacing already, with some heavy clouds and the guide warned us about possible hailstorms. As he rightly guesssed it came upon us in no time. It was fun initially to enjoy the pieces of ice that fall all over you. Though we ran around the place in the initial enthusiasm, hail storms can soon get frustrating, especially when you are a long way away from the destination. Thankfully this one was short and only lasted for some 15 minutes. We picked up pace as we had some flat land ahead of us and soon we could see the log cabin at Dzongri.

We were the last to reach Dzongri, taking all the time in the world to enjoy the beauty all around. Rest of the gang was huddled around hot pakodas and tea by the time we reached, and it is a great feeling to walk into such a reception from a hailstorm. Almost minutes after we started munching on the Onion and Potato pakodas another hailstorm and rain started. This one was heavy and we were happy to watch the spectacle from the security of the log cabin. After the storm the sun came out in all its glory and we were treated to some beautiful landscapes all around. Sinsinayya Subba and her family takes care of the log hut at Dzongri, who lives there 6 months a year, growing carrots, peas and tomatoes. She had some home made rice wine called Roxy, with her and few of us decided to taste it out. It tasted much like Vodka and was such a help in fighting the cold.

As night progressed it became extremely cold at Dzongri and we decided not to pitch tents and instead sleep inside the cabin. Space was never a constraint as 20 odd people squeezed themselves into the two small rooms! With the plan to start the next day's trek at 3 in the morning, we all slept early in the anticipation of seeing the 'five treasures of snow' the next morning. That is the meaning of the word 'Kangchenjunga', the third tallest mountain in the world.

Click here for more..

Day 1: To Yuksom
Day 2: Yuksom to Tshoka
Day 3: Tshoka to Dzongri
Day 4: Dzongri to Lamuney
Day 5: To Samiti & Kockchurung
Days 6 & 7: Back to Tshoka & Yuksom
Days 8 & 9: To Darjeeling

Pictures from the trek here

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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