Goecha La Trek Day 06

CONTINUED FROM: Goecha La Trek Day 05

Day 06: 21-April-2022

Route: Lamuney (4150 m/13,700 ft) To Goecha La View Point 1 (4600 m/15,100 ft) and Back to Kokchurang (3757 m/12,000 ft)

Distance: 16km (8H)

When I woke up at 2:30AM, I saw Indiahikes team head to the summit. They and Adventura stayed back at Thansing last night. Only our group and Group B had trekked upto Lamuney. 

Though I was ready by 3AM, I had to wait for the others. At 3:30AM, everyone else was ready. By then, Siddhant had managed to reach Lamuney. Shubam, Siddhant and I began our walk towards Goecha La. 

We kept following the light ahead. After a short trek, we reached Samiti lake. The lake looked beautiful under the moonlight. Earlier, trekkers were allowed to camp here. But as it got crowded and eventually dirtier, camping here was banned. 

This seemed like a never ending trail. As the sunrise time approached, Shubam and I got a bit impatient. We were a few hundred meters from the summit when we caught the sunrise. The rising sun painted Kanchenjunga range in orange. It was a magical moment. 

The final stretch involved a steep climb along a ridge. It was scary as a slip would send you straight down the mountain. 

At the summit, I met Bhuvan. We had finally made it to Goecha La view point. I picked a good spot and setup my cellphone for capturing a video. While the video was recording, I sat silently, trying to capture the view in my mind as well. I must say that, despite all my effort, I can hardly retain an image accurately. But it is easy for me to remember how I felt there.

Words cannot justify the view I witnessed and the emotion I experienced there. I shall simply say that, I have never been so close to the Himalayas. Mt Pandim was right next to me and it appeared as though in a few hours, I could climb up to its summit. 

Shubam and I stayed there for more than an hour. By then everyone else had left and Bish from our team arrived. It was just the three of us at Goecha La view point 1. So, there we were facing the tallest peak of India - Mt Kanchenjunga (8586 m/28169 ft).

Until few years ago, trekkers were allowed to go till Goecha La Viewpoint 2 and 3. They are now closed due to spotting of snow leopards in the region. There have also been some casualties in the past. Goecha La Viewpoint 3 is the closest you can get to Kanchenjunga from the Indian side. Nature-worshipping Sikimese consider the mountain as their deity and therefore, were always against people stepping over it, not to mention die scaling it. However, you can scale Mt Kanchenjunga from Nepal side. 

The descent upto Samiti Lake was a bit scary with the melting ice. We relaxed at Samiti lake for a while before proceeding. The water had frozen and thin layer of ice was formed over the lake. 

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” - Virginia Woolf

I have often noticed that it is during the descent that one realises the magnitude of the impact one has had at the summit. As one of my favourite authors Virginia Woolf puts it, the emotion expands only later. 

At Lamuney camp, Ram arranged for breakfast outside the tent. Lamuney is  the best campsite on this trek. The sky was clear and we could see both Mt Pandim and Kanchenjenga from the campsite. We were served Poori for breakfast. Though those pooris were dripping in oil, they tasted like the most delicious ones I have ever had. I am certain that the view and the weather had something to do with it. 

At 11AM, we left Lamuney camp and began our trek towards Kokchurang. We took a short break at Thansing and continued our journey through the forest. We crossed the Prek Chu river and reached the rock under which we had taken shelter during the hail storm. 

We reached Kokchurang at around 4pm. At the shelter, we got a small room for the six of us. We arranged our bags on one side and adjusted in that small area.

A major fight broke out between Adventura and Group B trekkers. The forest officer had double booked the place and the two groups began to fight for the biggest room available. They mostly spoke in Bengali so I could not understand but it got really nasty. The forest officer had come from Thansing and even he could not settle the situation. Finally, they came to some agreement. The atmosphere remained tense though. I could not imagine how trekkers could behave thus after having had such a perfect day, with great views. Of many things trekking teaches you, the most important is to be flexible and adaptable. Here, it was the opposite, the two teams were shouting and screaming at each other like animals. Though we were not part of it, it definitely affected the mood of everyone there. 

I walked to the river where I met three men who work with the defence and were vacationing here. They were trekking on their own along with a cook from the village. They had directly contacted the forest officer. At night, they either got a room or just slept in the kitchen along with the staff. One of the three was a regular trekker. He was so passionate about trekking that every time he mentioned Kanchenjunga, his eyes lit up. He told me that he was obsessed with the mountain and never missed a chance to visit the Himalayas. He has done Goecha La several times. He also recommended me other treks in the region. 

It was a cold night. But finally what remained was the visuals from the beautiful experience I had had earlier that day. Here is a poem I penned down based on my experience. 

CONTINUED HERE: Goecha La Trek Day 07