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Brad’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 08 Dec 2005

Location: Kolkatta, India

MapI'm once again back in Kolkatta for a short while after spending the last ten days up in Sikkim, mostly trekking around Katchindzonga!

After leaving Darjeeling I headed up to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, to organise a few days trekking. I was pretty keen to do this trek alone, but unfortunatly I found out that it was nessesary to get a permit to trek and for that to be issued you need to go with a trekking agency. I was amazingly lucky though, because that evening I met, first, an awesome young French Canadian guy called Christian, then a wonderful family of five from Sydney, who were all planning on doing the same trek and leaving the same day as I was! We all decided to hook up for the trek, which meant both great company and much cheaper fares. Just before we all went to be, Christian got talking to a lovely American girl, Joanne, and she ended up joining the party as well!

We set of three days later from Yuksom, with two guides, a cook, five porters, a dzo man and four dzos (a dzo is a cross between a cow and a yak)! We left the next day for the five days trekking from Yuksom (1750m) to Dzongri-la (4500m) and back. Day one took us from Yuksom to Tschoka, a small village around the trekkers huts halfway up the mountain. A few of the members of the familty weren't feeling so well at all, and Tony, the father, was really looking unwell by the time we stopped for lunch. He battled on though, and we reached Tschoka just after dark. It was a beautiful walk despite being mostly uphill, through rhododendron forests and magnolias in the beautiful sunshine and later through mist. After a freezing night, we woke to find two of our dzos had escaped during the night and had to be chased down! We set off anyway, and walked up the steep track to Dzongri, the next hut at 3975m. This time we arrived while there was still light, but the runaway dzos had our packs (and warm clothes) and didn't arrive until well after dark, when it was getting pretty close to zero degrees. The next morning a few of us got up at sunrise to see Katchendzonga before the clouds covered it. The view was amazing, but climbing just a small hill before breakfast at high altitude proved difficult. Ishbell, the youngest member of the family at 11, did amazingly well getting up there, and didn't complain once!
As we were spending the next night at Dzongri we had the option of resting, going to see a small lake or walking a few hours to the Dzonri-la viewpoint. Me, Christian and Joanne decided to hike to Dzongri-la while the family rested or went to the lake as some were still not feeling to great. The view of the mountains and glaciers from Dzongri-la was incredible, and it wasn't too steep getting there which was a nice change! Again the following day I got up at sunrise to go to the viewpoint, then we all packed up and headed back down the mountain. That night our cook (who had been preparing fantastic food in copious quantities) managed to bake us a cake (just with a kerosene stove) that said 'HAPPY TREK' and we all had a party before heading back down to Yuksom the next day. I had such a fantastic time, everyone got on really well, Christain and Joanne are both really wonderful amazing people and it was great being with such a cool family for a few days.

We we all headed to Pelling to see the monastry there, so the next day we got a jeep together and spent one more day together before I left on the long journey to get to Chennai to meet Jess! Yay! I'm partway on that journey now, I'm flying down there from Kolkatta airport, just so long at the reported cyclone doesn't hit!