The Team Members
I am out and out against allowing the cobweb of routine-bound life to settle in my mind. This prompts me to go to the off beaten track of life. This was the origin of my thought of going on a trek. After a brainstorming episode we selected Phokteydara-Singalila-Phalut as the maiden trek of our life.
Though mountain trek is always new even if you go several times on the same route. This must be admitted by our trek leader, DR. Sourav Ray because he was pretty sure of having atleast single glance of Mt. Kanchanjungha either from Phokteydara or Phalut top. But we proved him wrong. We are that fortunate group to witness that atrocious look of the great Himalayas.
At Uttarey Village, The starting point of the trek
The warm welcome of our trek leader at Teesta Bazaar led us to Uttarey, after 5-6hrs of drive. On reaching a brief introductory session was done followed by strict rules and regulations to be obeyed.
Day 1 was about a 7-8 km trek from Uttarey to Achhaleydara. A 6-7 hours trek lead us to a rainy campsite. Anyways on the very next day after we left Achhaleydara and walked hardly10-15 mins, the ground beneath our feet changed its colour but we did not pay any attention to it until one of our friends fell down and we realized we were walking on clay. Further the slope gradually became steeper and instead of walking, we needed to jump or crawl. The only thing by which we could help ourselves was by grabbing shrubs nearby. Embracing the shrubs gave us leech bite in return.
Cloudy Thulodhaap, on the way to Kalijhar
Poncho was our uniform throughout
As I said we experienced the multifarious images of the Himalayas, one such trailer started at around 2:00 pm. Suddenly the weather turned inclement from midway to Kalijhar. But still, we were completely in dark oops! ‘fog’ what next was waiting over the top. On reaching there the only thing that saved me from hypothermia was a cup of steaming coffee. That enabled me to reach the common tent at a distance of hardly 20-25mt which took around 5 mins. Stunning right? Here comes the list of the ruthlessness of the Great Himalayas. I have no words to describe the atrocity of the Himalayas, but few experiences only.
The visibility was virtually zero. A wind speed of around 70-80kms/hr indicated that we were trapped in the mountain waves. Peeping outside the tent seemed to be the biggest crime we made. What we found outside was a complete grayish mist, which had wrapped us and we were struggling against such turbulence. The ‘cherry on the cake” was the rainfall. We were sanguined that we had reached in Phokteydara oops! ‘Fogteydara’.
But“picture tab v baki tha”. At around 7:00 pm when we were about to sleep after a delicious dinner with mixed veg fried rice and egg curry, the so-called strongest and the safest tent failed to withstand such weather conditions and broke. Our laughter turned into woe. The supporting staff rushed into our tent, kept on struggling and succeeded to some extent. But during the dawn, the tent finally broke and wrapped us.
Once we were at Kalijhar top we didn’t realize it at first because of such a chilling welcome by the Himalaya himself. But suddenly when we were ready to leave, the sun somehow broke the clouds and cast the fog away. We were in awe to see the picture-perfect scenery below: green misty hills, shady mountains, and mostly some glimpse of snow-capped peaks of Mt. Kanchanjungha. Amazed we stood there for 5 mins before the sun hid behind the clouds again. But these 5 mins made us feel much happier than if we saw all the scenery while climbing the mountain.
The chilly, windy, misty weather was the only driving force to move upward to Phalut at a 15 km distance instead of moving back. When the rain ceased we could still barely see our surroundings; we felt disappointed but nevertheless happy because of making it to the top. Yes!, we summitted 3680mt Singalila top at around 10:30 am on 11th October 2022.
The Team at the Highest point of the Singalila Ridge (3680Mtrs)
Photo session at Toriphuley
It's only the gigantic Himalaya himself, which can arrange a platter for a beginner's team, which includes starting from cloud to mist, rainfall to the storm, muddy and slippery descent to rocky and woody ascent in such a flawless manner.
Talking about our local guide they were just unparallel. Whenever we paused finding no way out to step forward they stood first and made us find the way by any means, but never allowed us to slip off. It is the charming nature of Prakash vai and his good sense of humor that kept us moving with spring on our feet at a stretch for 15 km in that ‘dark chocolaty’ (read it as mud) way.
The Team in front of Phalut Hut
Once I looked upward, after a walk of 4-5 hrs all my exhaustion left me within the twinkling of eye. It was the paradise beckoning us with its open arms. GORKHEY, a picturesque mountain village, ever heard in fairy tales, was before us. A small hamlet surrounded by 7-8 mountains, and two rivers Gorkhey and Ramam were at their youth separating Gorkhey from Sikkim. Those wandering into the forest, mountains, and rocks for the last 3 days, walking miles after miles, staying in wild conditions had come to an end. But instead of a sigh of relief, we were somehow disheartened to leave that routine.
A picturesque fairytale Village, Gorkhey
Me and my friend Sonalika
The name HIMALAYAN PASSION is apt. Because it's only the passion that will keep you motivated, and focused throughout the trek, it's only the passion that can serve in a flawless manner in such a place where survival itself is a challenge. It's hard to understand if we were on an adventure trip or a packaged holiday trip. We had never felt we were on a no man’s land, where a glass of water will cost your lungs' efficiency, there we got readymade shelter, a warm welcome with either steaming tea, coffee, or soup. They provided us delicious lunch followed by sumptuous dinner with protein-rich diet. Even in Thulodhap, in the middle of our trekking way, on day 2 they provided us steaming tea and hot soupy noodles which became soupier due to the sudden “shower of love” of the beloved Himalayas in the name of rain. I must say they have made a never-ending bond. Be it that “ make some space for me inside the tent” for briefing the next day's schedule, or that “no one will sleep “ to keep us awake to acclimatize with the weather, or that reminder “cover your head” in order to prevent us from hypothermia all these seemed to be rude and hostile. Later on, we understood his strictness was only to ensure success. The dear leader was harsh initially only to be kind at the end.
Enjoying with a local cutie
The Team (from left:- Souvik, Sonalika, Sonia, Piyali, Arnab. Me (Aparna) Sitting in front with Prakash and to the right Sourav, Trek Leader)
Our maiden trek has been a phenomenal success. The route to our destination was packed with thrilling moments and breathtaking experiences. We all felt like pilgrims who reached their pilgrimage in a state of trans and enervation but their at once catapulted into euphoria after reaching their hallowed destination. I felt the greatness of the Himalayas at the bottom of my heart and pledge to return to the top of this grand mountain again and again. I returned with umpteen memories which will remain etched in my mind for good. Thank you HIMALAYAN PASSION.
Returning with a smile, but sad inside to return again to daily life.