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Lamunie - Goeche La Trek Days 4-5

Gangtok Travel Blog

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5/16/07
We basically retraced our last evening and this morning’s short hikes on the path to Lamunie crossing the river on log bridges and slippery rocks several times. Other than a little up and down, the path is pretty flat, rising to 4,300 meters or so (about 14,100 feet) and by 11:30 we reached the really nice and remote campsite. The views up the valley and towards the Goeche La pass and the mountains were great, but the fog once again slowly and eerily started rolling in. We had an early lunch and afterwards, Cindy opted to nap and stay at camp (her head was aching a bit from the altitude) and Carl, Karin, their guide and I headed off for the hour or so hike up to Samiti Lake.

The hike was actually more strenuous than it looked, criss-crossing up the rocky hill and then across the rocky moraine. Karin, who has been a bit ill with some kind of upper respiratory virus was having a bit of trouble breathing but we persevered and made it up to the top where you can see the view of our campsite from above (including our neon-yellow toilet tent - good to know that, in the event of a storm, the first thing we can see is our private toilet tent.) The lake is a deep, brilliant aqua color and considered holy by the Sikkimese. It looks crystal clear and very cold. Later in the blog are some other shots of it, as well as the now abandoned trekker’s hut as camping is no longer allowed at the holy lake (which is good…) The four of us hiked around the perimeter of the lake for an hour or so with their guide pointing out some of the really colorful and beautiful birds and the never ending and amazing views of Talung, Kabru, Pandim and Khangchendzonga.
Mama Yak and Baby
The view changes constantly with the light and weather and we took literally hundreds of pictures of this incredible mountain range (only a few uploaded here so as to not overwhelm).

Meanwhile, back at camp, Cindy awoke from her nap and was treated to views of a small group of Yaks including a mom and baby yak. She watched them and luckily stayed somewhat distant as we were told later by Thupten that they are very protective and will charge anyone or anything to protect their young. As Carl, Karin and I returned to camp, the fog really started rolling in and next came the rain. Under the circumstances, not much to do other than climb in the tent, bundle up and listen to audio books. We fell asleep to the pitter patter of rain on the tent, hoping that it wouldn’t leak.

Later that afternoon, we heard Thupten saying my name (this was the first and only time he did and we had earlier wondered if he had any idea what our names were…) and telling us we should wake up as the sky had cleared and there were good views of Pandim and Khangchendzonga.

We hopped in our shoes and crawled out of the tent to the most spectacular views yet. You can see in the three pictures here (these are so far unedited and my Photoshop skills are definitely better than my Photography skills so I will re-upload these when we are home and they are re-touched..) the incredible sunset over Khangchendzonga, the view of Pandim from our tent and of course the lovely sunset with our electric yellow toilet tent.

Dinner was abundant if a bit chilly in the dining tent where Thupten explained the legend of the Goeche La pass (which apparently means “Lock Pass” or something like that) and the Tibetan monks who crossed it after being shown the way by the mountain god. The three of them went on to coronate a king in Yuksom and started the long Choygal dynasty briefly described in the first Sikkim entry of the blog.

Another Spectacular Khangchendzonga Sunset
The Bhutanese guy took off earlier today and is supposedly going to hike to Goeche La and beyond to spend the night in a holy cave as a pilgrimage. We hope he and his 100kg out of shape body make it! Tomorrow we get up at 3:30am to start the trek to the viewpoint and hopefully the Goeche La pass too at about 5,000 meters (16,400).

More pictures than text so scroll down to see the rest of them...

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Mama Yak and Baby
Mama Yak and Baby
Another Spectacular Khangchendzong…
Another Spectacular Khangchendzon…
Clouds over Lamunie
Clouds over Lamunie
View of Pandim from our campsite i…
View of Pandim from our campsite …
Sunset over the valley and our ele…
Sunset over the valley and our el…
Trekkers Hut and Mountain Reflecti…
Trekkers Hut and Mountain Reflect…
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photo by: lrecht