Goecha La Trek Day 01

CONTINUED FROM: Siliguri To Yuksom

Day01: 16-April-2022

Route: Yuksom (1710 m/5600 ft) to Sachen (2200m/7200 ft)

Distance: 8km (4H)

Last night’s rain had left Yuksom wet and fresh. In the morning, I took a stroll around the village. By 8AM, when we received the breakfast call, we were all ready. We were served Tibetan bread and curry for breakfast. The bread smelled rich, hinting at a generous amount of butter that was used while baking the dough. The spicy chutney made of fresh cheese, tomatoes and chilly was a show stopper. 

A new pair of shoes were rented for Banasree the previous night. There isn't much option in Yuksom. She had to pick the smallest size available. But it did not fit her well either, therefore, some shoe swapping happened. Pavan wore the rented shoes, while Bishashwar wore his and Banasree got her brother's pair of shoes. I could not imagine myself in such a situation. A pair of good trekking shoes is the  most important companion during a trek. Anyways, after all those adjustments, we were ready to leave by 9:15AM. Our guide had briefed us about the day's plan. Of many advices that Ram gave, one stood out. He told us that this was a long trek of 8 days. That meant, we all had to get along with one another. For that, we had to become friends and ignore petty issues. We had to help one another and enjoy the journey as a group. At this age, I am able to better appreciate such an advice and understand its value. It is difficult to live with strangers for 8 days and expect no conflict of interest. An open mind and a calm behaviour is required to put up with small issues. 

So, at 9:15 AM, We left from Limboo homestay and walked towards the forest department. We walked past Yuksom monastery and lake. I stopped to capture a picture, looking at Mt. South Kabru at a distance. Little did I know back then that in few days, we would be very close to the mountain. 

Our guide Ram Singh had collected all the required documents from us the previous night. For a trek permit we needed to submit a copy of photo ID, a medical fitness certificate and 2 passport size photographs. The registration and permit process was smooth and required absolutely no interference from our side. The officer incharge wished us luck and was kind enough to take a group picture of us. And thus our Goecha La trek began. 

Goecha La trail is located in Kanchenjunga national park, in the western part of Sikkim. The total distance of this trek (including return) is 90km. It is a 8-day long trek and the maximum altitude gained on this trek is 4600 m/15100 ft. It is a moderate level trek and requires prior trekking experience in high altitude.

I had booked this trek with Himalaya trekkers again. This is my third trek with them and I find them extremely professional. 

The first leg of the trail for the day involved getting out of Yuksom village. We crossed Rathong river that flows down from the Rathong glacier. The trail passed through two suspension bridges, two waterfalls and dense forests. Snow-capped mountains were nowhere in sight as of now. I feared leeches that suck your blood and caterpillars, that cause skin rashes. The trail was filled with the latter and thankfully not so much with the former. But the caterpillars are equally bad if they end up on your skin. 

Shubam and I were the only two in our group of 6 trekkers who were carrying our backpacks. The others had offloaded their luggage to the mules for an extra amount (Rs 2400 for the entire trek). I would highly recommend that you carry your luggage and not burden the mules. But in worst case, that is an available option. While I was used to this load, Shubam found it too hard to climb with his backpack. This was also his first Himalayan trek ever. He decided to offload the bag from the next day onwards. Therefore, it was just me carrying my backpack for the rest of the trek. 

After a 8km long trek that took us about 4 hours, we reached Sachen at around 1:15PM. Sachen, our first campsite, is located at an altitude of 2200 m/7200 ft. At the campsite, there is a small hut built by the forest department. A local family has setup a shop there. The shop sells beverages and food like Maggie and momos. The hut also makes provision for a common kitchen area for the trekking groups. Outside, there is a shelter to sit and three public toilets. That is all the amenities you can expect here. 

At the shelter, the trekkers from various groups had gathered. At that moment, apart from ours, there were two other groups. There were 20 people on the trekking group organised by Indiahikes and 12 trekkers in a West Bengal based group called Adventura. I spoke to a few guys from team Indiahikes and learnt that one of the trekkers, Bhuvan, lived very close to my house in Bangalore. 

At the camp, the mules carrying the luggage finally got some rest. They happily chewed on some hay and wandered around looking for food waste that were scattered near the stream, where kitchen utensils are cleaned. It was also lunch time for us. Our packed lunch contained veg fried rice and boiled egg. An apple, juice, chikki and chocolate were also a part of it; some of which, we had chosen to eat along the way. 

Ram Singh had already pitched 3 tents for the six of us. We had chosen to have twin-sharing tents as it is comfortable. Our campsite was located at a flat area uphill, only 100m away from the main hut. The view from there was amazing. Tea and snacks were served at the campsite. 

I picked a good spot and began sketching the view I was witnessing. At around 5:20PM, it began to rain. All of us gathered at a shelter next to our tents and sat there listening to Ram’s interesting stories. His witty comments kept us smiling all through the conversation. He spoke about a Phd student who is currently doing a research on snow leopards. There were about 10 villagers in his team and Ram was one of them. They would often trek beyond Goecha La viewpoint 1 to setup cameras or change batteries. When asked if Ram had seen any leopards, he says that one of the cameras has captured an image of them. But he did not get a pleasant image on his camera though as the leopard had chosen to urinate over his camera. We discussed about the lifestyle in Sikkim. I asked him about other treks in the area. The intensity of the rain kept changing, but it did not stop all night. Dinner was served at the shelter - Roti, Sabji, Rice and Dhal. 

Adventura group had pitched their tents next to our tents. Most of the trekkers in that group were young. They sat at the shelter till late night and kept chatting. As my tent was the farthest from the shelter, I heard no noise. But the rest of them complained that they were noisy. Ram had to speak to their guide about keeping a watch over the noise level of his group. But to be honest, I did not feel that they were that bad. They are young and it is understandable if they are a bit enthusiastic and energetic. 

Despite the sound from the rain drops continuously hitting the tent fabric, my tiring body drifted-off.  

CONTINUED HERE - Goecha La Trek Day 02


  1. Looks like an adventurous trip. Didn't Banasree try the shoe for a fit before renting? Why didn't she go back the next morning and exchange it for the right fitting shoe?

    1. Ah I should have clarified that. Yuksom doesn't have a lot of options. And we found the smallest size available there. Even that foot size was slightly big for her.


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