Day 2 (Jaubhari to Tumling)
Early mornings are always difficult, when the temperature is the single digits, more so. After a hot breakfast , we assembled at the courtyard for the first day of the trek. Our guides were buddhaji and chirin. Buddhaji was from village close to jaubhari and so was chirin. The first thing vivek taught us was to how to tie a shoelace such that it never gets loose during the trek. I managed to get a loose variant of the method to work for me. We were also given a set of eco bags to collect garbage wherever found all along the way.
The initial 5 min trek from the base camp to the ‘main road’ got most of us panting, it was the beginning of the journey after all.
The initial trek was up a concrete path up next to the main road. Across the road, a trail going up the hill to Upper Chittrey. This is a steep climb of 3 km, through a thick forest, and takes about 2 hours to reach.
All along the way, we were surrounded by tall pine trees and Rhododendrons waiting to bloom. As we proceeded through the forest, the group fragmented. I decided to stay either the forefront if the group or the trailing everyone to ensure some good shots. As I realized on the first day, I wasn’t fit enough to lead the group; I decided to trail the group in the future and stay somewhere in the middle , alone.
Towards the end, the trail required a steep uphill hike but the views it presented were breathtaking. Darjeeling was visible on a hill top far away.
The sleeping buddha was visible to us for the very first time from atop the hillock.It was breathtaking.
Here a motor road going upwards; a little below, towards the left, is the Chittrey Monastery with Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the wind. This is Upper Chittrey, where we took take a break with hot tea and biscuits. Nepal is just downhill.
From here, the trail gradually went uphill. There are steps cut into the mountain at certain locations to help locals and trekkers climb through the forest until Lamyadhura. This was a difficult one for me for sure and between taking shots, taking quick resting stops and trekking again, I ended somewhere in trailing lot. All along the way, we could see the motorable road next to our trekking route with land rovers taking tourists up to sandakphu and phalut. It was another 3 hours of trek by the time we reached Lamaydhura, a small village with a handful of Tibetan families that run a small tea shop. It is a cozy place to take shelter , enjoy a lunch/tea. I bought a packet of chips and a snickers bar to keep my mind occupied.
The trail from Lamaydhura to Meghma is a 3 km hike up a steady incline. It also has some leisurely walks over grassy terrain and motor roads. This is the easiest gradient of the day’s trek. Chimal and magnolia trees are scattered along the route.
As we departed from Lamaydhura, the weather suddenly turned cold and mist took over the hills.
Many of us reached out for ‘warm clothing’ before resuming the trek at this point. Somewhere along the route, sri kishen took out his ladoos over a hilltop and that provided some much needed relief and energy.
Some of us ended splitting up, one group including myself ended up taking the motor able route unintentionally while another group took the “trek route”
After about 2 hours of walk, we reached meghma, our lunch point; finally !! . There is a monastery here which was closed on that day.
The tea house here is run by a small tibetan family who cooked up some super delicious dal, chapati, Cabbage curry and rice for us. Hot omelettes , made on order, were totally amazing when the temperature is a cold 2 degrees outside.
After a hearty lunch at meghma, we are off for the final leg of the journey, Tumling; an almost flat walk which takes about 1.5 hours. The misty evening added an eerie tone to the trek; I loved it.
The road from Meghma to Tumling was covered in mist and we passed through a number of small villages on the way; overall it took us about 1.5 hours or so to reach tumling.
We finally ended the day at Tumling lodge. The temperature was already touching almost 0 ; we were shown our dorms as soon we arrived. All the guys huddled into one room and all the women in another. After arrival, vivek gathered all of us for the mandatory rounds of stretches (& massage).
As evening approached and weather turned colder, we all made base in the lodge near the dining area and decided on play a game of Name tagging while sipping on hot tea and pakados. The game is to associate a tag with the name of the person and try to recall the tag-name combo of the entire group , all at a time. We had Madmax Mahita, Stupied Soham, Perfectionist Pooja, Kinetic Karun, Killer karthik, Notorious Niranjan, Yummy Yash and Naughty Nikhil from the ones that I remember. It was fun until we all of us ended up recalling all the names. Mafia was suggested next; the game most played in all treks. Prajakta wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it; she was fed up of mafia on all her previous treks, she had been on many. Rest of us were reasonably excited I suppose. Niranjan was god for the first round and as bad luck would have it, I was killed in the first round Mafia , Darn it! Mafia had this round. Karun was made God in the second round; this round was fun since I was part of Mafia along with Kushal ; I was about to be kicked again but begged the villagers to spare at least a round; they fell for it and I survived the gauntlet some more until my ruse was up ; I made it all the way to the end until being nabbed by the villagers.
A good 2 hours were spent playing the game and it was already time for dinner. It was the usual again, chappati, dal, subzi and rice. After a hearty dinner and tiresome day , it was time to retire to the cosy dorm for well deserved rest. But the night beckoned us !
It was super cold outside. The ones with the DSLRs, me, Karthik and Nikhil bravely ventured outside to try our luck with the night sky. It was a very bright moon lit night; the sleeping buddha was visible at the distance under the moonlight but the stars definitely weren’t. An exposure of 30s was creating a day light effect. The shots actually looked quite interesting; so I decided to go for them post a reduction of exposure time.
A final shot of the sleeping buddha exhausting 1 bar of my battery and we were off to bed.