Journey to Goecha La – A jewel hidden at the foot of Kanchendzonga Part II

After viewing a blissful sunrise at Dzongri Top, we ascended down to our campsite at Dzongri. I have narrated in a previous article about our journey till Dzongri enroute to Goechala Pass. Me and my two friends went for Goechala trek as a part of a group of sixteen trekkers last October. Our guide Sun Hong Chong and his associates were our facilitators apart from path-showers in this adventure.

Thangsing

After breakfast and packing up the tents at Dzongri, we were ready to depart from Dzongri -the place which initially gave us bad vibes (because of friend and fellow trekker Prashanto’s altitude induced sickness), but more than made up for it by providing an out-of-the-world view of major renowned peaks of Eastern Himalayas. We started proceeding towards Thangsing via Kokchurang.

 To our satisfaction, Prashanto had recovered and was ready to trek ahead with us. The path starts from the right side of the Dzongri Top range. Previously, we had a view of the Doring Valley campsite from Dzongri Top. It is situated on the left side of the Dzongri range and further ahead of Dzongri campsite. Bright colours of camps set up mostly by foreigners at Doring was visible from Dzongri Top.

The beautiful snow-covered Pandim peak gave us company in this stretch, sometimes hiding behind clouds and then re-appearing again till before the downhill journey to Kokchurang started.  We often took short breaks to munch on some chocolates and dry fruits while admiring the green vales guarded by blue hills in all sides. We followed the trail over lush green meadows, rocky cliffs interspersed with small streams till before the downclimb started through a narrow boulder-laden path through steeply inclined slopes leading to Kokchurang.

Green meadows that we crossed while heading to Kokchurang from Dzongri-Pandim played hide and seek with us by sometimes disappearing behind clouds and then re-appearing to mesmerise us again

 

View of Doring camping side from Dzongri Top

Kokchurang is another beautiful campsite on the banks of a swift-flowing mountain stream. After having lunch at the forest rest-house, we crossed over a wooden bridge on the stream and started the uphill journey through rocky steps amidst forests of pine, juniper and rhododendrons. By the time  we reached Thangsing after covering a distance of 6 km, it was already dark. The day went a bit strenuously and so after having dinner, I went off to sleep in my tent.

Thats the bridge at Kokchurang which we crossed on way to Thangsing. Kokchurang is one beautiful stopover in the Goechala route covered by pine trees in all directions.

 

Sunrays filtered through mist falling over the river at Kokchurang. This picture was taken while returning back from Thangsing. Kokchurang can be easily counted as one of the most picturesque stopovers in the Goechala route

 

Pack up time for mules and Yaks at Kokchurang – these animals went with us till Lamuney

The next morning as I came out of my tent, my eyes were mesmerised by what I saw around. A vast stretch of meadow, that is Thangsing is guarded by Pandim on one side and a swift river flows noisily close by. One flank of the mighty Kanchenjungha shone brightly ahead of the path towards Goechala. Thangsing easily qualifies as the best spot enroute to Goechala Pass.

Though Kokchurang and Tsokha can give stiff competition to Thangsing. My groupmates observed that my face has become swollen. So has my tent-mate Sangeeta’s face. Effect of altitude and cold. Though I wanted to hang around in this stunning valley for some more time, Sun Hong asked us to quickly get ready because we have made plans to visit Samiti Lake today itself.

Thats me in front of our camp in Thangsing. Pandim at right and a flank of Kanchenjungha’s arm can be seen ahead

 

 

Another view of Thangsing guarded by Pandim on the right

 

Mesmerising Thangsing

After having a wholesome breakfast of honey, tea, cornflakes, parathas and noodles, we started crossing over Thangsing’s vast stretch of grassland interspersed at places by rocks and small jet-flows of streamwater. This was another enjoyable stretch of walk. The view of Kanchenjungha lying ahead in this particular stretch added more excitement.

I found Agam Singh gathering small rocks and placing them one above another. He explained it is their way of seeking blessings from the Mountain God. Another guide for the team-SS and the youngsters Budhha I and Budhha II had reached Lamuney before us and made the tents ready. They came back from Lamuney along with a kettle and mugs supplied by Cook Samir Rai to serve us hot tea.

The temperature was lower by quite a few degrees in comparison to last day when we were travelling from Dzongri to Thangsing. Agam and SS are Sun Hong’s cousins and fellow villagers. They too work as guide. SS accompanied us during the last day’s hike. While talking to him we found out that he was not conversant in Hindi or English and so our group communicated with him in sign language.

This often led to humorous situations like when someone asked him at the second viewpoint of Goechala whether sunrays, that is ‘dhoop’ reaches there, he replied in the negative thinking ‘dhoop’ is some wild animal. Another team member asked him in Hindi the name of certain peaks, to which he replied that Sun Hong is his brother. However, he had thorough knowledge of the route and in the past, he had carried down many trekkers who lost consciousness or became sick in the high altitude Pass.  

Kanchendzonga

In the stretch between Thangsing and Lamuney, the luminescent white arm of Kanchendzonga was sometimes getting covered by clouds, then again to re-appear more radiantly and blind us. I had to put on my shades to look up at the powerful Mountain God. I guess this was a basic form of snow-blindness. We, the mere human mortals should not dare to look up at the Mighty One with naked eyes!

Our Trek Organiser and Guide Sun Hong in the stretch between Thangsing and Lamuney  

 

Radiant Kanchenjungha in front of the way to Lamuney

My friends Prasanto and Arun crossing a stream on way to Lamuney from Thangsing. The path is blessed with the radiant view of a flank of mighty Kanchenjungha

We reached Lamuney within two and a half hours. Sun Hong’s team had reached before us and already set up the tents at the river-bank. From here, only Pandim is visible and at the moment, Holy Peak Pandim has also gone behind clouds. We quickly started making a move towards Samiti Lake. We will not have much time to view the lake tomorrow enroute to Goechala Pass. It was again an uphill hike followed by downhill for about an hour to Samiti Lake.

Samiti Lake

The injustice about Goechala is intriguing. Camping is not allowed at Samiti lake

Lamuney camping site on the cloudy afternoon that we reached there

 

Samiti Lake-the trail to Goechala First Viewpoint in black rocks through the slopes ahead of the lake can be seen

  

 

Sun Hong, Agam and other members of the team regaling in front of Samiti Lake

Samiti is a tranquil azure coloured lake surrounded by bare rocky mountains on all sides. Noticeably, the surroundings are devoid of vegetation which indicates high altitude. Earlier trekkers used to camp near the lake. But it has been stopped for a decade now because of environmental issues. After spending about half an hour at the lakeside, we decided to return back and rest.

Sun Hong and his men will wake us up at 3.30 a.m.at night because it takes about an hour and a half to reach the first view point of Goechala Pass. We all went to sleep early so that we may relax and gain energy before the final lap of our trek. At night, heavy howling winds were blowing. It seemed the wind will blow away our tents.

 

 

 

10 Comments

  • Auro M says:

    Hi Sriyanka,
    Visiting Himalayas from the ‘Bong’ end has always been our dream. And yours is a great log that we will certainly refer to, when making our trip to Eastern Himalayas.
    Keep travelling and keep writing, for our benefit.
    Enjoy.

    • sriyanka chatterjee says:

      I am sure you will love the himalayas in Sikkim and North Bengal side..thanks for liking my log

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Getting better – the trek and your style.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Ekla (actually more) chalo re. Keep walking is probably a better fit. I think the photos are not looking great because probably we down-sampled them too much. Note to us.

    I always wonder that how come as you go on top, you still find large tracts of plain lands, like the camping site of Lamuney.

    Keep going Sriyanka.

    • SRIYANKA CHATTERJEE says:

      Thanks Nandan. Lamuney is not really a plain land. But there are level grounds at riverside where campers put their tents.

  • Beautiful place and very good narration.. Kudos!

    I recently made a trip to Lake District (in UK) and was simply smitten by the landscape. But now I realize that the Himalayan belt is much more fascinating than the hyped places outside of India.

    Looking forward for more stories from you, soon!

    Best.

    • SRIYANKA CHATTERJEE says:

      Thanks for liking my log. I am in love with Himalayas since my teenage days and I can’t agree with you more. Will continue writing about other places.

  • muskan says:

    an amazing place to be after a long tiresome journey and would love to venture the Himalayan belt when time permits me…
    Beautifully and engrossingly weaved the attention through out!

    thanks for sharing SIr

    • SRIYANKA CHATTERJEE says:

      Thanks Muskan. I would urge you to go for trekking to Goechala. You will find it doubly amazing when you see the place with your naked eyes. You can contact Sun Hong or any other agency over there. I can vouch for Sun Hong’s arrangements and hospitality. He really made good arrangements for us. Plus many guides in that route discourage trekkers from venturing till the third view point which is not the case with him.

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