Sandakphu - Phalut Trek | Day 1 | Tumling

Posted On // Leave a Comment

MONDAY | 28th DECEMBER, 2015
Darjeeling -> Maney Bhanjang -> Tumling 

Today I took a bath in hot water in my hotel room at Darjeeling and set off for the taxi-stand with my wet towel hanging on the arm. Unsurprisingly, there were already two people waiting in the taxi-stand for more people to get into the shared taxi to Maney Bhanjang. I had endeavored to reach the taxi-stand by 8, and I did too. But it wasn't until 9 that the three of us decided to hire the entire taxi and leave for Maney Bhanjang without waiting for more passengers.

The road was bumpy and scary, but we reached Maney Bhanjang with high spirits. To my unfortunate luck they informed that it wasn't snowing on the trek route currently. The temperature was well below freezing point, but no snow yet. The taxi driver charged Rs 170 each to the three of us for the ride, and he also let in another passengers en route.

For a while the couple and I were planning to share one guide for the trek, but I figured they were slow climbers and had a different route than what I had in mind, so we split as per our original plans. I took a guide at Rs 700 per day for five days and by 11:00 my guide and I were ready to start climbing.

Maney Bhanjang to Chetri climb.
Maney Bhanjang to Chetri was the first steep climb. It was walk of 2 km and it actually made me realize how trekking isn't a joke. Trekking must be taken seriously and with utter sincerity. This walk of 2 km took me an hour to complete and by the time it was over, I was hungry and desperate for the breakfast I had skipped in the morning.
 
Trekking is a tiring job. Luckily, all that working out and jogging helps. The bag on your back weighs 10 to 15 kg and you walk behind your guide through a mix of wilderness and paved path. There could be ups and downs, quite literally, and they will knock the breath out of you.

But in all fairness, trekking is equally rewarding. Right now, as I'm writing this, my guide is playing a guitar near a fireplace. We're sipping Tumba, a Nepali millet fermented drink. It's almost time for dinner at the guesthouse in Tumling. But the route to Tumling hasn't been easy.

The hut where I breakfasted in Chetri.
From Chetri the climb was a little simpler till Lamidura 4 km away. I was feeling perfectly all right when we reached there. Not much shaken. The sun was out all shining, and mountains basking in the glory.

All around the trek route are breathtaking sight of Sandakphu peak and the green hills. No sound except your breath and your steps against the rocks. Silence so extreme that it weighs you down. You feel it crawling on your skin.

The winding route took us to Meghma next, 3 km away. Chowmein, excellent one at that, having caught me so hungry, was served for the second lunch near another army base. Later, to my realization, I saw that on the entire route of the trek there were army bases positioned called Sashastra Sena Bal (a.k.a. SSB).
  
Meghma with the SSB camp on the right.
The most beautiful sights of the day are witnessed here. There was a horse grazing, standing so tall and proud, on a peak somewhere far away. Darjeeling is barely visible, you can only make out the white of the establishment. And you get to look at your route to Tumling.

The final destination of the day was Tumling, the scene of which I described above, 2 km away, in Nepal. In total, I must have climbed 12 km today. Some people don't go to Tumling, but stay in a place called Tonglu for the first night. Tonglu is higher in altitude than Tumling and has a different route altogether, but the next day, everybody is on the same route to Kalapokhri.

The room I've acquired is beautiful and so cosy! The guesthouse has a fireplace roaring. The rent for the night is a mere Rs 250. There is no mobile network, and again, to another realization, I saw that there was no network for Indian phones throughout the trek route. So beware!

In Tumling's guest house here groups of trekkers are sitting around, sharing experiences. The atmosphere swells the heart, even though the feet are aching. The faces are all excited and wondering what's to come next.

Guitar is changing hands and voices singing in Nepali, English and Hindi are low. Tomorrow everybody is going to attempt to reach Kalapokhri, 14 km away. That is the next destination for all. A night stay at Kalapokhri and then the walk to Sandakphu on the third day.

The night stay at Tumling.
Sandakphu is 6 km of incredible steep walk from Kalapokhri. After that I'll return and not go to Phalut. Time is short, and frankly, the cold is killing. I have a return train to catch and my guide says sticking to the regular plan is good for the trek.

I cannot put into words the things I've seen, the fun I'm having and the excitement of things that are waiting for me. The only problem with this trek, apart from the daunting challenge of climbing itself, is that bathing is out of the question.

The dinner was simple and delicious. Rice, daal, sabji and roti in buffet. Nothing fancy, simple dishes made with elaborate care. Loads of butter on top and warm water on the side.

I have to come right out and say it, all the pains of getting to this place tonight are worth it. Of course, as you can notice on the route visible in the links below, I didn't stay at Kalapokhri the second night. I kept walking up to Sandakphu because I was feeling awesome and wild. My guide was surprised by how quick and sturdy my walk was.

I want to warn anybody planning to trek on this route. You should only make steel-clad plans after you've walked enough to see if you can stick to your plans. Always underestimate yourself when climbing a mountain. It helps.

Please use the links below to start from the beginning if you've landed on this post directly, or to go to the next day of my trek if you're interested in reading more.

Day 0 | Darjeeling
Day 1 | Tumling
Day 2 | Sandakphu
Day 3 | Phalut
Day 4 | Gorkhey
Day 5 | Rimbick

0 thoughts:

Post a Comment