Himalayan Trek – Enroute To Yuksum

We reached New Jalpaiguri(NJP) after night long train journey, we arrived in Darjeeling express, which is perhaps the best train comparatively. NJP is the gateway to most treks in Sikkim. With the sight of many trekkers with backpacks and boots, spirit of adventure had already started seeping in. We had our breakfast at a restaurant called ‘Dadha Bhai’, While we just chose it for its name, it proved not bad.

As we started towards Yuksum in a TATA Sumo, our young driver Dillu impressed us in first meet. He also told a sweet lie that he doesn’t have Bollywood songs, and made us listen Nepali songs. We are glad he did it, now we know couple of Nepali songs and we enjoyed it.

Teesta river

Almost entire length from NJP to Yuksum, we had beautiful view of the Teesta river. The clear blue water and beige shores are sure to mesmerize anyone. We stopped for lunch at Jorethang. Our driver suggested us a restaurant, ‘Walk In’ and it was worth the try. Jorethang

After a 8 hour drive from New Jalpaiguri (Near Siliguri) to Yuksum at around 5 pm, It was already pitch dark. We had our rooms reserved at a small hotel called ‘Pemathang’, a warm lady who also owns the place welcomed and served us tea. Soon, as we realized shops and restaurant pull down their shutters around 7 pm, we hurried to finish our dinner. We walked across to the Yak restaurant. We met an wonderful lady ‘Karma’ , who apparently lives up to her name. Looking at the our enthusiasm, Karma knew what she had to serve us, the Chhang, a local made rice brew served hot, served in a bamboo mug and straw, filled with millet seeds. The best part of the drink is, we just had to refill the beer with hot water. After a long day of singing and cheering, all we wanted to do was to hit the sack.

New Jalpaguri


Himalayan Trek – Yuksom – Dzongiri

As we gathered up after a quick breakfast, we introduced ourselves to pair of couples, Stanley and Mirca, couple from Czech Republic in their late fifty’s. Stan, six foot three and well built who was an software engineer from the FORTRAN era, speaks eloquent English with strong Czech accent. Mirca, a warm, soft spoken lady, a runner who completed a 50k marathon few months before we met. Stanley and Mirca run a cycling sport company back home. Hubert and Julia, from Germany, were full time backpackers. Hubert, when I inquired number of countries he has traveled, he thought for a second and said he doesn’t have any count. Attributed with natural elegance, Julia is second time in India for the year.

We headed towards the mountains crossing the village, as our climbing began and through the edges of the mountains, beautiful Rathong Chu was in the vicinity down the valley. A person, from behind me told “slow, slow, conserve energy” and after exchanging few words with him he walked past. Nima, come as a liaison officer representing Sikkim govt for a team going for an expedition. We reached Tshoka at round 6pm after 18 kms of trek that day. I had excruciating pain in my left knee due to over use of my left leg while climbing.

Next morning, we started towards Dzongiri. After few an hour of walking, I again stumbled Nima, whom I met a day back. We had a long conversation ranging from personal life, education, internet, climbing, high altitude sickness and many more.. Nima is a climber, mountaineer for past fourteen years and has climbed many summits. In the era where social media deserves status updates for our trivial actions and slacktivism , He is an accomplished climber, liaison officer, has been an sarpanch, also runs a small school. Nima, who decided to earn my utmost respect told “I am climbing Mt. Everest coming march”, that’s scheduled next month. This man’s simplicity and how he made things look simple made an impact on me. Our conversation lasted till we reached Pethang, which looked like I have walked into Europe.

We spoke to each person who were descending, and same was the case when we were down hill. Later in the afternoon we reached Dzongiri, which looked like a barren land, by early evening the weather changed, it was bliss to see snow fall for those of us not seen before. It’s said it is a good thing for the sky to clear. We barely slept that night. I came out that night at 2 am to see the snow blanket, the sky has cleared, it was a phantasmal beauty, stars looked closer than ever before I have seen. At around 3.30 am, we left up for the Dzongiri view point from where we can see kanchendzonga along with other smaller peaks. We walked across the ridge the gusty winds blew as powerful to push one down to ground, we had to sit or hold hands when winds blew. As the orange light hit peaks of the colossal rocks, pain, struggle to come up till here and perceived sadness of my life were nowhere seen. After spending some time at the top watching the sunrise and clicking few pictures we got back down to our huts.

At around 9 am, leaving back one of our team member we proceeded to Lake Laxmi, glass like tranquil water, calmness beyond silence. Prayer coins are found at the floor of the lake. At Dzongiri, as snow fall started remaining day was spent at Dzongiri chatting with our team members. Next day we came back to Tshoka, that night bringing the trip to a beautiful end, we sang songs together along with guide Nima Sherpa, yak person Gyalpo Bhutia, cook and the help whom we lovingly called ‘chotu’. Hubert, to my surprise asked us to sing Kishore kumar’s ‘chalte chalte’ which he said is one of his favorite.

Next day, at around 10 in the morning we started to Yuksom. With huge baggage of memories and experience we paced downwards. While the trip gave me time for self introspection, better understanding of my friends, these giant white mountains were unapologetic, disarmed my ego and belittled life.