We will arrange the camp at Prek Chu bridge - a five and a half hour walk from Yoksum. If living in a tourist hut, then walk another steep one and a half hours to reach Bakhim. Considering that Bakhim is at 8,800feet/2,682m, you would have gained 3,000ft/915 m on the first day itself, which could be a strain.
The first half is hard to trekking. You reach the Bakhim hut after a steep climb. Another ninety-minute walk through a thick oak and rhododendron forest brings you to the Tibetan settlement of Tsoka (9,860ft/3,005m). It has a camping site and gives a tantalizing glimpses of the conical top of the Pandim Peak. You can look out for photo opportunities.
Climb steeply through a thick forest till you reach the little meadow at Phedang halfway to Dzongri (13,100ft/3,993m). Witness the transition from the temperate to the alpine zone. You can also see at least two dozen different varieties of wild roses. Rhododendrons would, of course, be in full bloom in late March or April. The flowers to look out for, however, are the orchids. Pitch camp next to the tourist hut at Dzongri. Though there is a better site with great views, a twenty-minute walk up on the Dzongri meadow, staying below is a more discrete option. As you soak in the view of the summits of the Kabru Complex, Gocha, Rathong, and the Padim Peak, from behind them all emerges the Kangchenjunga, shimmering majestically. Back in the camp for breakfast, spend the day sauntering around. Those feeling active can go for a hike to a side ridge top to a get a view of the Rhatong glacier.
Well into the trek, you are back in the forest after climbing the Dzongri Pass (13,450ft/41,00m) and descending steeply. You meet the Prek Chu river again to cross over to the left bank. On a side stream is the Khangsar hut, great to relex in and have lunch. While crossing over, you would see that all the rock next to the river are pink because of the lichens growing on them. After a slow, two-hour climb, you reach the wide expanse of the Thangsing meadow.
In the day of six we visit in Onglaktang Glacier. Foury five minutes of steep climbing brings you to the serene waters of Lake Samiti (or Sungmoteng Cho). Stark and windswept, the lake is classic high altitude Himalayan Wildleness. At a height of nearly 14,000ft/4,267m, a world of gurgling streams flows behind you. Somewhere on a rocky ledge a snow leopard contemplates the world as prayer flags flutter wildly in the cold, ceaseless wind - a magical and somber moment to be preserved.
Early morning, catch the sun hitting the peaks of the Kabru complex and the Gocha PeaK, and also get a great view of the Onglaktang Glacier. After this reach the Gocha La at 16,208ft/4,940m, the highest point on this trek, where you nearly touch the Kangchenjunga's regal spendor. Now, it's all the way down to Yoksum, Darjeeling, or wherever you came from.
After a day's rest at Thangsing, from where a three-hour walk could take you to Lam Pokhri, take a detour at the Khangsar hut on a narrow trail to Phedang to rejoin the main trail and reach Tsoka in the evening. Porters and yaks, however, have to follow the mainroute to Dzongri because the trail is too narrow. A brisk seven-hour walk on what is now a familiar trail, and you are back at Yoksum. The trail has ended; the metal road begins.
Mr. Surender Singh
V.P.O - BIr, Teh - Baijnath, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India - 176077
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