Morning looked sunny and the breakfast was amazing. Simple food made with potatoes, eggs and Eskus tasted better than any pricy dish in a five star hotel. We were all excited as it was our major climb to the highest peak and by today afternoon we would have reached this peak, which would give us the best views to not only Kanchanganga but all of the surrounding mountains and if the weather is good we would get a sneak peek into Mount Everest. That was as close as it can get.
The family who owned the hotel gathered together to say goodbye. The talented singer girl and all her other sisters were centre of attraction and we clicked few nice pictures with them. There was this nice snow all along our path which glittered in the morning sunlight. It was an enjoyable walk with very less hike and most of the time we had a downhill walk or a straight path.
The group was enjoying this and we had loads of fun either talking about our previous treks or our native places or future plans. Some of the scenic photography was done during this spell and few got even lucky to get mobile signal and talk to their folks back home. Wow, that was really cool. We ran into few of the villages on the way and were amazed to see those little kids enjoying that cold weather with their running nose and nothing really stopped them from having that innocent childhood fun. The weather was really sunny during the initial phase but started getting little windy in later part of the climb.
Kaalapokhari to Sandakphu was the most challenging spell of our entire trek. The three kilometers of steep road with the inclination changing between 30 degrees to 70 degrees, lack of oxygen, cold windy weather, carrying the ruck sack while the body was not ready to carry on, was tough. But at the same time we enjoyed fresh snow, dramatic landscapes, cute villages, snow fights, snow slides, cutes kids and Yaks and the old “Made in Finland” land rovers reaching even at this height, thanks to a motor-able road.
The initial portion of our 6 km journey was not that tough, but then the last 3 kms were not just tough but really challenged us to reach the finish line, no matter how much you feel like quitting. Interestingly the Australian school girls just crossed us on our way up, at some point and as were getting closer, they were on their downhill path and I was really jealous of their energy. Well I had to comfort myself by bringing in the age factor and that is how I managed to keep going. We also had this youthful young man in his sixties and few ladies in their fifties and who would go through the same challenge, but finally make it to the top. I had no excuse here.
The reward was equally inviting when we reached there. The hot soup and lunch was waiting for us and the hotel Namo Buddha looked really cosy. The peak was covered with fresh snow and the surrounding looked covered with glittering white carpet. The rooms were on the 1st and 2nd floor while ground floor had ample space for us to get together and have some fun. I wanted to get the feel of soft white snow spread all around and so went out for a while and was blessed with an amazing sunset. It was just our group and no one else at the top.
Tumbling and Kaalipokhri was in Nepal and so in that sense it was an international trek for us :).People here stay in the most challenging situations but do not grumble even a bit about any of these conditions and are the most hospitable. Some might say that they are complacent or do not know a better way of life, but for me they were just happy with what they had got, the natural beauty in abundance, which was priceless.
The route to Sandkphu trek runs through Singalila National Park and this park was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1986, and was made an Indian national park in 1992. The park is part of the Eastern Himalayas. The Singalila Ridge, which runs roughly North to South and separates Himalayan West Bengal from the other Eastern Himalayan ranges to the west of it. The two highest peaks of West Bengal, Sandakphu (3630 m) and Phalut (3600 m), are located on the ridge and inside the park. River Rammam and River Sirikhola flow through the park. [wiki]
The temperature was well below zero here and it was difficult to sleep. Most of us were gather at the ground floor and the music was on. It was time to dance and create some energy. The mafia gang was at the dining table deeply involved into finding mafias while few of the elder members learning yoga and trying to loosen up their body and generate some heat. Finally we all were in the bed as we had to be up by 3:30, 4 to go out and catch the rising sun along with the morning beauty of the surrounding mountains.