Day 1: The actual start of the trek, prior to which was the scary 2 hour drive uphill (scary to those who have motion sickness, which is pretty much everyone in my family!) So after tea and bath (the last we could have on civilized place for quite some days after that), we sat to decide on what to take and what to leave behind.
The plan was to leave behind stuff that would not be used during the trek (especially suitcase type of luggage, as the ponies will not be able to carry them) and they would be directly sent to our airport on the last day. So we rearranged all our luggages, but Wangchuk was still taken by surprise at the number of items cumulative that the horses had to carry! I guess it came to around 25 when he had an estimate of 15. Still, he managed the number very well and the 12 plus one guide started to Maneybhanjang, the starting point of the walk.
The climb was entirely uphill with full of bends, and I felt so relieved when it was over. Then the helpers downloaded the luggage from the car and uploaded it on the ponies who were to carry it for the rest of the week. At this point, we were also joined by our second guide Pemba.
Now a quick word about our guides – both of them were pro, Norbu was the silent, background person whereas Pemba the witty, thoughtful one.
So we had breakfast at a cottage in Maneybhanjang – tea, bread and porridge – and then started theactual trek.It started with a steep climb up and we all had our walking sticks out. Most of us were still carrying a bag each this day and so the walk was moderate throughout the 7 kms.
The rest of the group went ahead, while my aunt, Nishanth, Lavi and I stayed behind. When Nishanth and my aunt were still on their way, Lavi walked steadily and joined the leading group. I was in a dilemma at this stage whether to continue or stay back. Thus I kept at the tail of the leading group, occasionally stopping to see if I can spot Norbu or Nishanth through the mist. Jayathi aunty was there for company for this stretch.
We stopped at a lonely hut at a place called Chitre and we were served black tea (again!). Here, we came to know that the road near the hut belonged to India, whereas, the land next to it along with the hut belonged to Nepal! So we all stood in this formation such that one leg was in India and one leg in Nepal and posed for a photo!!!!!!!!
Oh yes! Loyala!!! I forgot to mention earlier, but a white dog started the walk with us in Maneybhanjang and came all the way the entire day with the group. It seems its name was Lassi, but me and Jayati aunty named it Loyala in order to pay tribute to its loyalty 🙂 We were hoping it would come with us till the end of the trek; but it stopped at Tumling. We learnt later that this to and fro journey was regular for the dog, and next time someone starts back from Tumling it would accompany them back to the base.
As the day progressed, so did we in terms of kms and neared the lunch spot. Rain started spoiling our day. Raincoats out and drenched, we reached the lunch destination. Something that I had missed in the above narration was that we had been carrying a bag of ripe mangoes all the way from Chennai, courtesy my uncle, who wanted all of us to enjoy the mangoes at the airport itself. Hoever, we skipped it during that day’s lunch, dinner, next day breakfast. And then, as we were waiting for the food to be prepared, we attacked the mangoes, which Geetha aunty dutifully cut and distributed. Then came the steaming plates of noodles and then soup. This meant we had the lunch courses in the reverse order – dessert, main dish, and soup 😉
We tried waiting for the rain, but it was pouring non-stop, so we continued walking in the rain and reached the lodge at Mt.Tumling numb and wet. Fortunately for us, there was a cozy fireplace in the dining area, and we were able to dry ourselves. And drying, we did – from raincoats to shoes, passports, wallets and jackets… We had a dinner of rice, dal and roti followed by a brief by Pemba. The solar light did not work in our room and we did all the repacking in torch light and then went to sleep on our cozy beds.
– Until next,