In the lap of Kanchenjunga

A 10 day trek to Goechala pass from Yuksom. A walk in Kanchenjunga National Park crossing many beautiful waterfalls and streams enroute to view snow laden peaks of Mt.Kanchenjunga, Mt.Pandim, Mt.Kabru, organised by The Great Escape

It was pouring all over and the weather was gloomy; gloomy to stay back in the comforts of the home, but the conditions were apt to explore the forests and peaks. This prompted us to plan for another trek to Kanchanjunga National Park with imposing views of snow laden Kanchanjunga and Mount Pandim along with other peaks.

The theme of the entire trek was well defined in few lines, scribbled on the walls of Govt. rest house at Kokchurong
Flocks of Birds have flown high and away;
A solitary drift of Cloud too has gone wandering on;
And I sit alone with the Ching-Ting peak towering beyond;
We never grow tired of each other!
The Mountain and I;

By HNAF, Siliguri

Before I narrate my trekalogue, let me first introduce our team members. They come with a wide age spectrum, starting from 22 yrs. To 67 yrs. Almost half of the team members were more than 50 years old, prompting someone at the beginning of the trek to state that this group could easily be mistaken for a pilgrimage group instead of a trekking group. But at the end of the trek, everyone agreed that the enthusiasm and the endurance shown by the elders of the group was an inspiration to the young ones.

Vijay Bhaskar
The eldest member of the group with a single motto– If one can achieve it, why can't I?

The most resourceful and helpful man. If any member wanted any item during the trek, he would miraculously have a spare of that item in his kit and would be ready to lend it to them. I had an opportunity to use his spare shirt and head torch; others went on to borrow his down jacket, gloves, medicines etc.

The lady with steel like endurance. She had done many foreign and Indian treks. Though may have been a bit slow in her pace she sure would reach any peak in no time. Besides being a hard trekker, she is a typical Indian woman who loves to cook and feed the members with delicious food.

My old friend (friendship is old, but not the friend). He makes big time trekkers look small with his trekking skills and is always ready to help anyone during the trek. Someone said something about him-that if you want to win hearts of others, just be like Raju

An avid photographer but a bit cautious in treks, may be due to his previous experiences.

The organiser; Task Master; Continuous motivator to bring out the most out of everyone.

A sweet and soft speaking Bahubali, he is about to leave his comfy software profession to pursue his passion for apiculture (honeybee farming).

The chocolate boy with lot of stamina and strength who would not hesitate to go an extra mile to help others.

The best entertainer once he is in his comfort zone. The sight of the gear that he was carrying in his kit could make anyone think that he had originally come to Kolkata for sight-seeing and by mistake joined the trek. I sure need at least two more trek timings to fully understand him.

The most enthusiastic girl who always travel light; well of course with the help of others.

Now, that I am done with the intro, let me start out trekalogue.

First Day, 2nd Sep – Meeting of few members

I took the afternoon flight from Vizag to Kolkata, which landed at 2:30 PM. As soon as I landed, I enquired with Raju, whether the group from Hyderabad had reached or not. He confirmed that they arrived in the morning itself. He had taken a room near to the railway station to kill the time till evening and invited me to join the group at the hotel. I took a cab to reach the hotel, where I was introduced to Vijay Bhaskar, Jithin, Jaya and Ramesh. After a brief chat with the group, Raju and I went out for some last minute shopping.

We spent some more time in the hotel room getting to know other members. I was awestruck to know the backgrounds of the other members. Vijay Bhaskar, even at his age is a regular gym goer. Jithen is a cross country racer and also used to go on hunting expeditions. Jaya had already done a couple of treks and was planning to do a Kilimanjaro trek in October. I felt like a noob before them and was just happy to listen to their experiences.

With the clock striking 7, Jaya took out food packets for us from her luggage which had lip smacking Pulihora and Curd Rice; the staple food during journeys for Andhraites. After that delicious early dinner, Jamila joined the group at the hotel. It was time for us to head on to the railway station to board our train to New Jalpaiguri.

Tucking our entire luggage, we headed to the railway station, where we met Gopi and after a brief introduction, we all entered the train. Having the tickets booked for many members a few months back, then cancelling a few and then adding up few more tickets, our berths were spread all over the train compartment. Jami and Raju decided that we should stay as a group at one place in the train compartment and requested couple of guys to exchange their berths. Some readily accepted their request and some had some excuses. With all this, it was utter chaos. It took almost an hour to understand which were our berths and which were not, which berths we had exchanged and which berths we had retained. And in our attempt to grasp that, we erroneously exchanged some nearby berths with far off ones. Completely exhausted, Jami and Raju realised that there was no point in staying together as a group as it was a night journey and we were going to alight the train as soon as we woke up in the morning. With this realisation, everyone occupied the available berths and went to sleep. Well not before we incurred the wrath of our co-passengers for the hungama that we created.

Meantime, Jami also tried to establish contact with the other three members of the group; Saumay, Adithi and Milan. Saumay and Adithi confirmed that they already reached NJP and would join us the next day. The last communication received from Milan was that he missed his flight to Bagdogra and was trying to board another flight. After that he became incommunicado and after few futile attempts to contact him, we assumed that Milan may not make it to the trek.

Second Day, 3rdSep – Meeting of full Group at 5700 ft.

Before reaching NJP, a few more attempts were made to reach Milan without success. Suddenly, we received a message from Milan that the taxi guys at NJP were forcefully taking him to Gangtok and asked us to reach NJP at the earliest to save him from those guys. Relieved to know that Milan was already at NJP, we reached NJP with a two hour delay. At NJP station we met Milan, where two pre-booked cabs were waiting for us to take to Yuksom. Yuksom at 5700 ft. Was the first capital of Sikkim during 17th Century. It was the base village where we would start our trek.

Saumay and Adithi confirmed that they would join the cab at a nearby junction. The team was naturally divided into two groups with all 50+ guys occupying one cab and the remaining stuffed into the other. We overheard Jami secretly cautioning our cab driver to drive carefully as all his passengers were senior citizens. We protested for that comment and were determined to show the power of experience in coming days.

No sooner had we started, we realised that we didn't have breakfast and decided to have brunch. We stopped at a nearby food joint, Laddoo Gopal at Siliguri, where we met Saumay and Adithi. We all satiated our growling stomachs and then settled into our respective cabs. And then started our journey into hills.

At 3:00 PM, the cabs reached a gate where we came to know that will stay closed till 3:30 PM due to some road repair works. With half an hour remaining to open the gates, a few of us started walking on the road, leaving behind the cabs, enjoying the beautiful scenery around us. After some time, the cabs picked us on our way and we headed forward to Yuksom. By the time, we reached Yuksom, it was about 8 PM. We immediately checked in a hotel, had our dinner and went to bed.

Third Day, 4thSep – Heading to Leechen err..Sachen
(Day's destination was at 7200 ft., i.e. an altitude gain of 1500 ft. over a trail of 8 Km. long)

Though it rained heavily at night, the clouds cleared up and the sun shone bright the next day. To have a warm-up, I, Raju, Jami, Saumay and Adithi went walking to a nearby lake; the famous KathokTsho lake. We were stopped by a small cute boy near the gate who demanded us to buy the tickets for entry. After buying the tickets, we could not resist ourselves taking photos with that little cute boy, who it seems was studying third grade. He took us to the lake and spent some time with us. However, he broke the hearts of Adithi and Jami by calling them Aunty.

The lake was serene with colourful fish; red, gold and yellow clustered near the shore expecting the visitors to feed them. After spending a few moments at the lake, we visited a nearby monastery and then headed back to the hotel, by which time others were ready. We had a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel and by 8:30 AM we started our trekking without an inkling about the dreadful evening and night that we would spend.

As this was our first day of trekking and with most of us not being familiar with such terrain, some of us had a couple of slips while negotiating the wet rocks. While I slipped twice, Vijay Bhaskar once and Saumay once, we were lucky not to have any injuries as we mostly fell with our backpacks as cushion. Adithi fell into a small ditch and sprawled. Saumay, who was following her closely, was quick enough to pull her from the ditch. But Jithen was not that lucky. He had a bad fall that injured his back and right arm. His arm immediately swelled up like a balloon. He sat for a while assessing his position whether he could continue the trek with such an injury. The brave person he was, it didn't take much time for him to decide that he would continue the trek come what may. None of such slippages could diminish our determination. Within no time, we reached a hanging iron bridge that was built over huge waterfall "PhaKhola". While we were mesmerised by the magnanimity of the falls and were busy in taking photos, we felt some itching at various parts of our bodies. Upon checking, we found LEECHES slowly crawling on our bodies. On seeing them, our feelings transformed first from disgust to concern to jittery to fear to scary to horror. We plucked them out and hurriedly move out of that area deep into the moist jungle, knowing little that we were in fact venturing deep into their domain.

Meanwhile, we crossed another hanging iron bridge over another waterfall "TshushayKhola" and then a small cement bridge. After this, we had to cross another huge waterfall. Saumay, Adithi and Raju ventured into the waterfall and had a good cold bath. After half an hour from this fall, we reached our day's destination, Sachen; a small clearing in the deep jungle at about 3:30 PM.

Once we reached the small shed at Sachen, the itching on our body increased. Each one of us started checking our bodies and to our dismay we found about seven to ten leeches glued all over our bodies feasting on our blood. Horrified, we plucked the leeches out of our body, which we were later told was the biggest mistake. We later learnt from the locals that the best way to remove leeches is to apply a mixture of tobacco and salt, which make the leeches to drop from the body instantly. If they drop from the body there wouldn't be any blood loss, except for the blood they sucked out of us till such time, but if we pluck the leech out of our body, it seems they leave some enzyme at the biting place, which would not allow the blood to clot and blood oozes out of that bite for at least next couple of hours. As we plucked the leeches, our shirts, pants and socks were stained with the oozing blood. The scene was such that we all looked like warriors who had returned just from a big war.

In the meantime, our support staff prepared a hot lunch for us. Wiping the blood with one hand, we ate hot rotis with the other hand. After the lunch, we rushed to the clearing above the trail where our tents were pitched in. There was another shed in that area where people could sit and chat. We spent a few hours in the shed gossiping. Suddenly there was heavy downpour for an hour or so. Nobody had the mood or guts to go down to kitchen area for fear of leeches and requested the staff to bring food to the tents area. They obliged our request and brought our food at about 7:30 PM after rain the stopped. Though a few of us skipped the dinner, we all rushed into our respective tents once the others finished their dinner. Once we were in our tents, we again spent about an hour searching every inch of tent for leeches and were successful in fumigating the tents. That night none of us had a good sleep. Any slight movement of loose garment or bedsheet on our body would wake us up, thanks to our terrifying leech experience.

Fourth Day, 5thSep – Halt at Tshoka
(Day's destination was at 9700 ft., i.e. an altitude gain of 1500 ft. over a trail of 7 Km. long)

We woke up early, had a quick breakfast by 7:30 AM and were happy to get away from that leech infested area. After a 2 Km. long walk on a slightly ascending trail, there was a steep descent to reach a hanging iron bridge over the river Prek. The group reassembled at the bridge, took some customary photographs before starting the steep climb through the Oak forest. This climb was a real test to our bones. After a couple of hours walk, we reached Bakhim where we spotted a resting shed with a guy serving tea. The group reassembled there once again and had a few cups of hot tea. We realised we had a strong mobile signal at that place. Each one of us made calls back home and conveyed our wellbeing. The hot tea and the conversation with our loved ones back home rejuvenated our energies. We then again started our trek further up into the forest of Rhododendron trees. After a steep ascent for about an hour and a half or two hours, we reached our day's destination Tshoka. There was a long wooden hut in Tshoka where we were welcomed with hot tea, followed by a hot lunch. After the lunch, few of us went to the nearby monastery, which unfortunately was locked. We then spent some time on the shores of a lake nearby. Before the dinner was served, we spent our time with some of us narrating their real life horror stories. The pitch dark surroundings made the narrations more intense. After the dinner, few of us slept in the wooden building while few of us preferred to sleep in the tents that were pitched on a flat camping area on the left side of the wooden building. At midnight, Jami, Adithi and Saumay pulled their sleeping mats out of their tents and slept in the open area to stargaze.

Fifth Day, 6thSep – Halt at Dzongari
(Day's destination was at 12980 ft., i.e. an altitude gain of 3100 ft. over a trail of 9 Km. long)

The next morning we woke up to the mesmerising view of snow laden peaks of Mount Pandim at a distance. Since this was the first sight of the snow laden peaks of the trail, we were so excited that we had to click some photos. Once our photography session was over we freshened up in no time. And our surprise knew no bounds when we were served with hot and spicy Upma prepared by Jaya. She carried all the ingredients required to cook Upma in her luggage. She knew we would be craving for home food for the last four days. This satiated our taste buds Bless her. And this was not all. We were also told that we would have another surprise food item that Jaya would prepare in coming days. With renewed energy, we started our day's trek, which was more bone crunching.

The trail started with a sharp climb for about an hour. The sharp climb suddenly opened to a more or less flat wooden trail which was like a walk in the park. But that was short-lived. After an hour of this pleasant walk, the trail tested us. It was rocky, muddy, and slippery. Each step had to be climbed by bending the knee at right angles. This hard trail continued for about two hours. Out of the blue, a plateau popped out giving us a great relief. This plateau called Phedong had a small shed and a large sprawling meadow. Saumay was the first one to reach this place, followed by me and Raju. We laid down on our back in the meadows overlooking the imposing peaks of Mount Phandim. But this luxury lasted only for few minutes as the entire area was soon covered with mist and it started to drizzle. We hurried back to the small shed which had some wooden benches to sit on. The group reassembled there and we took some well-deserved rest on the benches.

After we had our rest, we resumed the trek on the steep rocky trail that continued to test our endurance. After another steep climb of about one and half hour, we reached a peak of 13,080 Ft. with prayer flags tied around the area all over. We took rest a little bit at this place and continued on slight descending trail towards our day's destination Dzongari.

It was about 4 PM, when we reached Dzongri. It was drizzling right from Phedong and continued till the evening. After a late lunch, we all sat in the sit-out of the trekker's hut overlooking the mist and drizzle covered mountain trail towards Dzongari top which we were supposed climb the next day at early hours to witness the sunrise over the mountains. The drizzle suddenly decided to turn into a heavy downpour with no respite; even for a moment. Someone in our group suspected it to be a cloud burst. We had dinner with a dejected mood as the chances for us to go up to the Dzongri top for sunrise views were bleak. We all went to sleep in the trekkers hut itself instead of our tents that were pitched outside in case anyone wished to spend their night in tents. But no one dared to go into tents due to incessant rains. We adjusted in the hut itself.

Sixth Day, 7thSep – First to Dzongari top and then to Thanshing
(Day's first destination was at 13675 ft. and then to 12900 ft., Total distance to be travelled was 10 Km.)

At 3:30 AM, we had a wake-up call from Jami asking us to get ready to start for Dzongari peak in the next half an hour. We all were sceptical about Jami's claim that rain had stopped. But reluctantly we came out from the comforts of our sleeping bag to see the conditions outside. We all were surprised to see that there was no hint of any cloud in the sky and the entire sky was lit up with star cluster. It was hard to believe that this was the same area where there was a suspected cloud burst few hours back. We immediately refreshed and had a cup of hot tea. I, Jami, Raju, Adithi, Saumay, Gopi and Vijay Bhaskar headed our way onto the steep ascending pitch dark trail with our head torches on while our guide Giri was leading the way. After about an hour of ascending the trek, we reached the top; right on time. The sun was about to rise over the peaks of Kanchanjunga, Mount Phandim and Kabru family. It was sight of life to watch. The peaks shining in the morning sun rays; it was like as if the peaks were covered in gold. We lost ourselves in that magnificent 180 degree views of the peaks. We spent an hour or so in clicking photos. Adithi, Saumay and Jami posed with some dance postures like they do in movies.

At about 6:30 AM, we treaded back down to the trekkers bungalow and narrated the experiences for those who missed to make it to the peak. After breakfast, we started for the day's destination. The trail for the first one kilometre was steep ascent and then the walk was on a more or less a plain ground. This continued for another two kilometres. From there on it was a steep descent. The trail was through a Rhododendron forest. Everywhere we looked, we found trees covered with moss and fern. In this trail I was ahead of the team trekking alone. The dampness in the weather, the continuous chirps of birds, the rhythmic sound of flowing water way down below, the moss covered gigantic trees with their branches sprawling around entire area with no one in the vicinity, I felt like I was in heaven. Words cannot describe my feeling. One has to present physically to experience that feeling. But the continuous steep descent had a toll on my knees and I couldn't enjoy the surroundings the way I should have been. After a walk of about one and half kilometre we reached Kokchurang where there was a forest rest house. The entire team gathered at this rest house within no time. As per the original plan, we were supposed to have lunch at this place but due to some miscommunication our cooks headed forward without waiting at this location. This upset many of us as we were very hungry. We were told our day's destination was another four kilometres away with gentle ascent.

After taking rest for a while, we crossed the river Prekchu and continued the trek. After a walk again into Rhododendron forest for about two kilometres, the trail continued along the side of a stream. With colourful flora and fauna on one side and with the stream on other side, the trail looked absolutely beautiful; very similar like the valley of flowers. We were totally mesmerised by the beauty of the trail and went on for a photo spree again. At one point, Milan just sat by the side of the stream and lost himself into the nature. Jami while passing, asked Milan how he was feeling. Milan with a strange calm and yet happy expression on his face answered "Had you taken bath today, I would have totally hugged you for introducing me to such locations". Though everyone had the same feeling, they were moved by his choice of words and his way of expression. We were so lost in the beauty of nature that we forgot about our tiredness and growling stomachs which was a major concern a few hours back as we didn't get the hot lunch at Kokchurang as planned. But Saumay didn't forget this. He along with our supporting staff rushed to the day's destination Tanshing, had hot tea prepared and brought it down to serve all of us while we were busy in taking photos. The trek on any day was so long that completing that day's trek itself was arduous task for any of us. But, for Saumay it was more important to help the tired team members that even though he too was tired after completing the day's trek came down for about two kilometres with load of hot tea just to rejuvenate our energies. After that energising cup of tea, we regained all our energies and finished the balance day's trek in next half an hour and reached the trekker's bungalow at Tanshing; a huge flat meadow. We were served with hot lunch upon our arrival. While Pandim was right in front of us, to the left was Kanchanjunga. Just before Pandim, there was a small hillock and the views of the snow peak mountain from the top of that hillock looked gorgeous. After lunch, we all went to the river bank and spent some memorable moments there. The weather turned cold as the sun went down and the dusk set in. Once darkness set in, the sky burst into millions of star clusters and Ramesh tried his hand on star photography. After spending some more moments talking, we had our dinner and went to sleep.

SeventhDay, 8thSep – A simple walk to Lamuney
(Day's destination was at 13650ft., i.e. an altitude gain of 700 ft. over a trail of 4 Km. long)

Today's trek was fairly very easy with only a 4 Km. walk on almost a plain meadow. Raju and I thought we should try to conquer the hillock in front of Mount Pandim which was about 400 ft. height. While we were discussing, whether we should go for it or not, Jami was already half way scaling the mountain. We too set ourselves for the trail but by mistake we followed a wrong trek which led us to the other side of the hillock near to the stream. We changed our direction and started climbing the mountain by clearing the bushes and setting our own path. After few metres of climb, we found ourselves at mid height of the hillock completely covered with bushes and small trees. As there was no further trail upwards, we contemplated whether we should return to the base. But looking down, we realised that we have come up at such a level that it was not possible for us to get down the hill without tripping. We were badly stuck on the half way of the other side of the hill with nobody looking at us. We could see Jami reaching the prayer flags on the peak and waving to the team members down below on the other side of the hill. We tried to draw her attention towards us by shouting but in vain. We could see that in no time she started descending the hillock from the other side and disappeared. With no chance of going down, we decided to continue our trail to the peak of the mountain by holding branches of small trees. We knew once we reach the peak, we could follow the right trail to get down the hill. For next half an hour, we continued to scale up the mountain. While Raju was trekking up nonchalant, I was holding for my dear life by grabbing small trees and bushes. We finally reached the peak. From there, we could see our team mates in the base camp and I waved to them in such a relief that even Tenzing Norgay wouldn't have waved his flag so victoriously after conquering Mt. Everest. After spending about ten to fifteen minutes on the peak enjoying the view, we headed down on the proper trail. It was at the end of this trail we understood how and where we had taken a wrong track while climbing up.

After the breakfast, we set ourselves on the easiest trail of the entire trek and within next two hours, we reached the day's destination Lamuney; another huge and flat meadow. The trail was such a straight one that at one point of the trail, you could see both the campsites at Tanshing and Lamuney on either side. This was the day we were waiting for where we all feasted on the hot Biryani, prepared by Jaya. At Lamuney, we stood staring at Mt. Pandim and Mt. Kabru which was right in front of us. The mightiness of these mountains mesmerised every one of us. Unfortunately, the clouds played spoilsport and blocked our view. With the force of the cold winds getting more and more daunting, we set ourselves into our respective tents to rest. Sometime at 4 PM in the evening, there was a sudden shout from Jithen calling us to come out of our tents. Worried about what might have happened, we came out from our tents to be awe stuck by the beauty of uncovered Mt. Pandim with setting sun rays falling on its peak creating an impression of a gold crown. After spending some time at the nearby lake, we had our dinner and went to sleep.

EigthDay, 9thSep – The Summit Day
(Day's destination was to reach Summit at 16200 ft., i.e. an altitude gain of 2550 ft. and back to Kokchurang – overall length of the trail was 26 Km. long)

This was the D day for us not only because we were about to do a summit trek, but it was Jami's birthday. Jami woke us about 1:30 AM as the scheduled time of trek starting was 2:00 AM in order to reach Goechala View Point-1 before sunrise. The surrounding coldness was biting; The gutsy winds were chilling; But our determination was compelling. Except for Jithen, Jaya and Ramesh, who preferred to stay back at Lamuney to cover the sunrise views on Mt.Pandim and Mt.Kabru at close quarters, all others woke up and splashed ourselves with the chilled water to freshen up. The supporting staff prepared hot paranthas which we devoured along with a cup of hot tea. Each of us carried snacks with us to keep our energy levels up during the daunting trek. It was about 3 AM by the time we were ready; almost an hour behind our schedule. The previous night, I borrowed a powerful head torch from Jithin to negotiate the pitch dark trek ahead of us.

After wishing Jami on her birthday, we started our arduous trek in the dark night. With a few stops in between to catch our breath, we crossed Samithi Lake in the dark and moved further up to reach View Point-1 at a height of 15200 ft. by 5:15 AM just before the sunrise. Sitting on the rocks, we watched the mighty Kanchanjunga's moon lit silver lined peaks turn slowly into golden peaks and then again transform into bright radiant silvery rocks. We soaked in the grace of indomitable peaks for about half an hour. Goechala pass at a height of 16200 ft. was still 5 Km. further away from this point and we could clearly see the ascent ahead. Seeing the ascent ahead, Vijay Bhaskar and I decided to return to Lamuney to catch up with the other team while Raju, Jami, Adithi, Gopi and Saumay decided to move ahead. While coming down, we had a beautiful view of Samithi Lake. After spending some time on the river bank, we joined the group at Lamuney at 8 AM. Meanwhile, the team which headed to Goechala reached the summit at 9:30 AM, celebrated Jami's birthday. There Jami cut her birthday cake after which the team fed her the cake, posed for some photos with the team and started their return journey.

The team at Lamuney, leisurely started their return trek at 10 AM and reached the forest rest house at Kokchurang by 2 PM. We stopped at many places and clicked photos at every opportunity. By 5 PM, we were joined by the rest of the team who had returned from Goechala pass. The entire team again celebrated the birthday of Jami by cutting another cake. Now that we had completed our trek successfully, the rain gods decided it was time to start pouring continuously for the next two days.
Before we had our dinner, the team spent some quality time playing Dumb Charades. The entertainer in Milan came out in full force and obviously the team with Milan won the game handsdown. Though every bone in our body hurt, we went to bed fully content.

Ninth Day, 10thSep – Back to Tshoka and connecting to the outside world
(Day's destination was to reach Tshoka via Phedong– overall length of the trail was 12 Km. long)

By 7 AM, we had our breakfast and started our trek back to Tshoka with a scheduled hot lunch at Phedong even though the drizzle was nonstop. The streams and water falls were in full spate due to the continuous rains and at one of the streams we had to form a human chain to cross over slowly. Finally, we reached Phedong by 1 PM just to find that our supporting staff who were supposed to reach that point before us and to keep the hot lunch ready had not reached. They finally arrived after 15 minutes. As no one was in a mood to spend about two hours in the drizzle just for lunch, we have decided to move ahead and have a late lunch at Tshoka. We continued our trek down to Tshoka and reached there by 3 PM. After freshening up and after having contacted the dear ones back home, everyone's spirits were up again to enjoy their lunch together.

We spent the night again with some more games like Anthakshari and the undefeatable entertainer Milan made the game one sided. After few hours of singing, we had a special dinner with some paneer curry. After the sumptuous food we called it a day.

Tenth Day, 11thSep – Back to base village, Yuksom
(Day's destination was to reach Yuksom– overall length of the trail was 15Km. long)

Having learnt our lesson and having learnt some techniques in tackling leeches, we each carried salt packed in a small cloth ready to tackle the leeches again as we passed their kingdom. The idea was to pass quickly Sachen without any stops and to reach Yuksom for lunch. The rains didn't relent and the drizzle was continuous. After our breakfast at 6:15 AM, Raju, I and Vijay started way ahead of the group and in no time reached Bakhim. We had a brief stop for a cup of hot tea. We then again continued our trek down leaving behind Sachen, the cement bridge and iron bridges one after the other. Even though we quickly wanted to leave, we couldn't resist stopping briefly at each scenic place to click some photos. Due to the continuous rains, the streams and water falls looked differently and we had to cross many streams, which were not there during our upward trek.

We finally reached Yuksom by 11:30 AM and checked in our rooms. After having a complete shower and having freshened up, we headed to a nearby food joint just to see our team members reaching Yuksom one after the other. The rest of the day we spent together reminiscing all the memorable moments of the trek and sharing the photos.

Eleventh Day, 12thSep – Back to Home

The next morning we started in two vehicles to reach NJP for our return journey; back to our home towns. In between, we were briefly stopped by a friend, who we bid farewell with heavy hearts and with lots of promises to return this part of land again.

I thank each and every membr of our team who made this trek such a memorable one. I thank The Great Escape in general for organising this trek and Jami in particular for such a meticulous plan. I heart fully thank my wife, Parvathi who was a continuous motivator for me to join this trek and also proofread and edited this trekologue.


Guest Author: Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy19 Sep 2018

Very well written. I wish I could write this kind, but no way. I congratulate Ramakrishna for his beautiful write up.

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