Goecha La Trek: Day 4 - Dzongri to Lamuney

'What time is it, is it 3 yet?', someone or other kept yelling every hour that night. Such was the excitement on the prospect of seeing mount Kanchenjunga up close and personal the next morning, in fact one of the major attractions of the trek. Dabla Khang, the view point near Dzongri is one of the best places to witness the majesty of Kanchenjunga and its brithers Kabru, Rathong, Simvo, Tensinghan and Pandim. This view point is atop a hillock some 2 kilometers from the cabin. Some of the gang decided to skip this four kilometer warm up session and decided to conserve energy for the day's long trek to Lamuney. The rest of us didn't want to miss the sunrise and started by 3 in the morning. It wasn't an easy climb in the starlight, and the Overnight dew and resultant frost had given a white coat to all the shrubs and grass, making the terrain all the more slippery. It was freezing cold too and we had a tough time climbing so early in the morning. Arghaya, our guide, had already downed a few glasses of Roxy and he was running up the hill, giggling like a small kid who is about to view something majestic. And majestic it was!
We reached the view point well ahead of the sunrise. There was another group of Australians, who were camping on the other side of this hillock, also joined us on top. There is a small Buddhist altar of worship where Arghaya offered some incense, as we all sang "Om Mani Padme Hum". Soon sunny boy came out of his slumber and the hue of the horizon slowly changed from gray to Red to orange and finally to a fine yellow. we all stood in awe as KJ and brothers put up a show amidst the golden rays of a rejuvenated sun. Our campsite was visible as a tiny spec of blue towards one side and the vast Lamuney valley towards the other side of the hillock. After a few photos with KJ and bros, we soon started our descent. We had a pretty long walk ahead of us for the day. Instead of camping either at Kokchrung or Thangshing, our plan was to walk all the way to Lamuney valley, and camp there overnight. To accomplish this we had to start as early as possible.

After giving the folks who stayed back in the cabin an exaggerated account of the Kanchenjunga darshan, we soon packed our stuff and started the day's trek. From Dzongri it is a steep climb initially, followed by some vast grasslands, at the end of which you get a magnificent view of Lamuney valley with Prek Chu flowing right through the middle. The snow clad mountains of Pandim stands guard on one side of the valley while another rocky cliff borders the other. The descent down to Kokchrung is quite steep and hard on the knees, though the rhododendrons in all different colors are everywhere along the path. By the time we reached the log hut at Kokchrung, we had also lost about 1200 feet in altitude. The thought of gaining this altitude back on our return trip was quite terrifying, but thankfully we had other plans. We had a short break at Kokchrung, from where we crossed the gushing Prek Chu river to the other side of the valley. Rest of the 3 kilometers walk to Thangshing was entirely through a pine forest where every piece of wood was covered by bright yellow moss. It was kind of spooky at some places, even at noon.

We stopped at Thangshing for lunch, where you have a nice grassland for camping and a dilapidated stone hut for some protection from the winds. Mount Pandim looms large on the other side of the hut and some prefer to camp here for the night. We decided to walk another 4 kilometers to Lamuney, and camp on this side of Samiti lake. It would have been better had we camped at Thangshing, from safety point of view. But then we would have definitely missed out the fun of huddling inside the tent in the night, as it snowed from 9PM to 2AM, hoping that the tent won't come down on us! We all reached Lamuney by 5 in the evening and started with the pakodas and horlicks. By the time we finished dinner it was getting real cold and in no time it started snowing. For most of us, this was the first encounter with soft snow, and the darkness or cold could not stop us from running around, clicking snaps and howling at the stop of our voices like a pack of wolves!

Our destination for the next day was Goecha La mountain pass, but the snowfall made us think twice about attempting the pass. It is always treacherous to climb to that heights when there is snowfall. Tracing your way back to the camp becomes a herculean task in the constant snowfall, even if you assume that you won't run into avalanches or slippery ice. The best time to reach Goecha La is before sunrise and this made it even more risky. We decided to postpone the decision till the next day morning at 3, after analyzing the situation. When we took our positions in the tents, we all had mixed feelings - the prospect of playing around in soft snow next morning and the possibility of canceling any further climb. Soon I slipped into sleep, listening to the sound of 'snowflakes falling on the tent'.

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


Saravana K said...

Nice post. I enjoyed reading through it and reliving the Gochela trek i did back in 2007. The sunrise over Dzongri looks surreal. A pity about the weather but atleast you were able to see the peaks. When i went there (twice in 2007) the rain clouds were so low that visibility was reduced to less than 100 meters. Although i was terribly lucky on the last day when the weather cleared and i was treated to magnificent views of KJ from Zemathang (view point-1 above Samiti lake).

Btw, i am in the process of creating a website called Kettik for travel bloggers to connect and share/showcase their stories. Check it out sometime. www.kettik.com

attiDuDe said...

Thanks Saravana!
This trek will remain one of the cherished memories all my life.

All the best with kettik. It is a very nice initiative!

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