The Goecha la trek, Day 1

Stats for the day:

Distance: 11 km

Total time: 5 hours 18 seconds

Moving time: 4 hours 23 minutes, 28 seconds

Elevation gain: 890 meters as per strava, 802 meters as per Garmin

We started trekking at 9:23 AM from Yuksom. Our first stop was the coronation throne at Yuksom where we spent a few minutes and continued to make our way to the kanchenjunga national park. KNP is a gorgeous forest area full of chirping birds and a dense tree cover. A Red Rhododendron tree in bloom welcomed us into the KNP.

Rhododendrons in bloom – picture by Gaurav Ghosh

Most of the trek is on a well laid out path along the mountains. There is a deep valley on one side and steep cliffs on the other – however, the trail is perfectly safe and there are no dangerous ledges along the way. The trail for the day is predominantly uphill with several downhill sections. As soon as we entered the KNP, the trail went down to a bridge on the river after which it went up a steep climb. There are 3 bridges today and each one is more beautiful that the other.

Day 1 elevation profile

Divinity

As I was crossing the first bridge, a sense of peace descended on me. I crossed over, put the backpack down and walked back to the middle of the bridge. The bridge welcomed me by gently resonating to my footsteps and giving my walk a little bounce. The cool mountain air caressed my face, through my hair and on my sweaty back. The raging river underneath the bridge was furious and yet, calm. Colorful prayer flags fluttering atop the bridge chanted their prayers in the wind. The fresh fragrance of the forest added subtle life to breath. I thought my mind was adding the sounds of tiny tinkling bells, till I realized that the Yaks carrying our camping equipment had bells around their necks.

Lunch

We stopped for lunch at the third bridge (last for the day). A small trail took us to the rivulet which was in a narrow gorge surrounded by the mighty mountains. There were rocks lazily scattered in the river as though the place was designed for lounging. Each of us found a rock, dipped our feet in the water and washed up with the chilled water. The sun continued playing hide and seek with the clouds while the gurgling brook added to the rhythm of the the wind rustling through the trees.

Our campsite for the night was at Sachen. The camp area was in the middle of a dense forest and was full of chirping birds. Within minutes of our arrival, a bright red minivet put up a small display in the trees nearby as though welcoming us to Sachen. The area is abundant in bird life and throughout the evening, we had bird song for company.

We were lucky with the weather throughout the day. The sun had been playing hide and seek with the clouds, and it became cloudy when we reached the campsite. After we had turned in for the night, it rained for a few hours. We got lucky, because rain at night would mean we would most likely have a gorgeous morning – perfect for a forest trek.

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