Heading towards the Top of the World part 1

Trip Start May 03, 2011
Trip End May 24, 2011

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Flag of India  , Sikkim,
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Goecha La trek, Day 1
Rainbows and wild Strawberries

Woke up at 5 am to an amazing blue bird morning. I stepped out on the patio of our hostel and there it was: a snow capped Khangchendzonga 8598m (28,201 feet) tall. The most beautiful peek I have ever seen. It was love at first sight.

We had arrived at the little lovely town of Yuksom the night before, a starting point from where trekkers from all over the world start to head up towards the land of the Gods- The Himalayas. Karin and I sipped on some fabulous ginger, lemon, honey tea and watched the town wake up. Shop keepers opening early hoping to sell some last minute items like flashlights and toilet paper, dogs roaming the restaurants hoping for some food to fall down, jeeps honking and dzos (cow/yak mixed pack animals) getting saddled up for various group treks. 100's of prayer flags flowing in the wind. It was the perfect morning. The perfect morning to start a trek of a lifetime.

Our guide Ben, a softspoken 26-year old Nepali man, introduced us to the crew. A total of five, one cook, one dzo handler and two porters and Ben himself. Oh and the three dzo's of course. After a ton of paperwork (typically India-style) we finally started our journey up the mountains. The scenery was so incredible beautiful. A jungle-like landscape with tall trees, bamboo, endless fields of rhododendron flower bushes and to my surprise: lots of red and juicy little wild strawberries (smultron). At the end of the day we had ascended 1,200 meters (4000 feet) during seven hours and the sunshine had been overtaken by a few little clouds, resulting in a beautiful rainbow along the way.

This incredible, but challenging start on our adventure made for a very much appreciated dinner in Tsokha where we enjoyed restaurant-quality Indian/Nepalese food by our chef on a small single burner (storm kok). Chapati bread, noodle soup, and aloo gobi. yum, yum! After some stretching and with full bellies we crashed before 8 pm under a million stars. It was pure magic.

Day 2
Bamboo wine and smokey towels.

Woke up to some hot chai tea and biscuits followed by a fab breakfast in the tent ( I could get used to this!) we set off for the most strenuous part of the trek: a 1000 meter (3280 feet) vertical ascend with no single downhill in sight. We got our Swedish little rear ends kicked by the porters and later also the dzo's even though they were loaded up with a ton of food and other supplies. The landscape changed a bit and we climbed trough a beautiful forest filled with pink and white rhododendron flowers in bloom, old John Bauer-looking treas covered in moss inhabited by lots of birds in all the colors of the rainbow. The weather changed often and we braved rain, hail, mist, sunshine and we spotted the trek's first snow on the ground.

The day was incredible challenging but team Sweden powered trough and stayed tough. We reached our destination: Dzongri eight hours later where we got to taste Tomba, the Sikkimese bamboo wine,  in front of a local families fire place while drying our wet socks and shoes making them smell like smoke for days ahead. We stayed for another day acclimatizing to the high altitude. A 30 min hike up a ridge above our campsite, we were stunned by a sunset over several snow capped peeks, it was like MOther Earth told us: You are on the right path...

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