Sandakphu-Phalut Trek - Day 05

CONTINUED FROM: Sandakphu Day 04

Date: 20-Oct-2023

Day05: Aahl(3535m/11600ft) to Timbure (2000m/6560ft) via Sandakphu

Distance/Time: 15km / 7H

Sleeping Buddha

I woke up before the alarm went off. Ninad and I walked up to the sunrise view point located behind the guesthouses. It is from here that we could see the Sleeping Buddha and the Everest. Trekkers from Indiahikes team also joined. Among them was a 50 year old doctor from Bangalore who wants to change his lifestyle. He wants to reduce partying and involve himself in such activities. This was his first trek. There was Rajesh whom I had met previously in Samanden. There were the two boys on exchange program. One was from Germany and other from Czech Republic. I picked a good spot and setup my phone for a time-lapse video.  

To witness the golden rays slowly brighten up the Kanchenjunga Mountain range was an experience of a lifetime. Once the Sleeping buddha was lit, the sun rays slowly lit Makalu, Everest and Lhotse. Needless to say that it was a spectacle.

Sayali, Rushikesh and Abhishek decided to walk up to the viewpoint again and brush their teeth in front of the mountains which I thought was very funny. I truly enjoyed this lively group of youngsters. We had an outdoor breakfast after that. Later, I walked back to the sunrise view point and sketched. We were ready to leave by 9AM. We clicked some pictures with the guesthouse owners. The mule man who was drunk and had spoken rudely to us seemed a bit embarrassed by his behaviour last night. He tried to be nice to us by offering to click the group picture and tried to crack some jokes. 

We bid farewell to Pasang Lhamu and continued our journey.

Riddhi’s leg was hurting and she was in severe pain. She had to offload her bag that day and walk really slowly. Abhishek, Usha and I accompanied her. I prefer to be extra cautious during the descent because it is easy to hurt your knees or ankle. At this age, I want no trouble. 

Usha told us about her journey from being a theatre artist and then junior artist in movies to now being a Trek lead. She said that theatre helped build her confidence level. She sang the title song of a cartoon that she had sung during an audition for a theatre group. She also practices Taekwondo. She also has a challenging job where she has to deal with and lead a lot of men who are raised with the patriarchal mindset. Throughout the trek, I observed how well she had learnt to deal with them. Usha indeed is an inspiration to many. 

On our way, we stopped at Sandkaphu. We did not want to climb up to the viewpoint as the view was not very different from or better than the one we had seen at Aahl. We had to show our aadhar card again at the checkpoint as we entered India.

We passed through a bamboo forest and reached a dhaba. we ordered and shared a few plates of Maggie. Here, we met Som Thami. He is this year's winner of  the Buddha trail. The race is conducted around the month of March or April every year. Som Thami had covered this 65km run in 6 hours. The trail begins at Rimbick and covers the trial that we had just finished trekking.  He was preparing for a similar race in Thailand. 

By the time we reached Gurdum it was 2:30PM. The others had reached much earlier and were waiting for us to start the lunch. Our lunch was arranged at Madys view homestay, run by an old couple. The food was very tasty. We sat on the dining table outside, surrounded by pots with beautiful flowers- Gladiolas, begonias, orchids and lilies. Gurdum is a beautiful place to spend a quiet, laid-back vacation. The trek from Sepi to Gurdum is about 3 hours long.

I noticed that the man of the house was cleaning the dishes. It is good to see that the work is shared among most couples in this region.

We took the final descent for the day from Gurdum to Timbure. We passed by the football ground, were the village kids were at play. We also crossed a river and a few waterfalls before finally reaching Timbure. I do not enjoy the descents so much. There is a lot of stress on your knees, ankles and toes. Therefore, it was a tiring day for me. My toes were badly hurting that evening. 

Swayambhu homestay at Timbure is run by a middle-aged couple. Lucky, the lady of the house was in charge. She told me that she has visited Bangalore and she likes the weather there. Even here the man of the house was cooking and helping the women in the kitchen. 

They had corn being dried outside. She told me that the left over corn would be bought by the villagers to feed the mules during winter. The grass from the field was also balanced over a stick in the fields. The sun-dried grass too would be stored for winter and used to feed the cattle. 

We assembled at the dining area and had tea with snacks. We stayed there playing UNO till dinner time. The food was very tasty; specially the dish made of brinjal/aubergine. We also had some Tongba and local beer. 

That night, I was extremely tired and sleeping over a comfortable bed seemed like a much-needed change.

Checkout my Vlog on this trek:

CONTINUED HERE: Sandakphu-Phalut Trek - Day 06