|Cutting right through the breast of Tshejay La 4600 meters, acho Penjor found new trail for sweepers|
in the interest of time. It was wonderful though.
5 hrs 20 minutes hiked
The more we explored that much mesmerized we were, weather for a moment was just too perfect that she granted us not only the view but also allowed to amble on her. May be she knew we came from afar just to see and pay respect to her or maybe it was the outcome of our positive energy and yes we came with so much of positive energies since day one. We thanked her for being so generous with us.
Yet, nothing lasts forever, when it is time even the mighty lion goes back home and so we were readying to head back now. Although, as per our itinerary we were supposed to halt two nights at Tshonapatta campsite, do some cleaning campaigns and return the next day then head straight to Thimphu. But, we couldn’t count on the instant changing winter weather. So, after hanging around for about an hour we bid farewell to the revered Nob Tshonapatta and began hitting the trail towards Tsejay La 4600 meters at 9 AM.
|Quite a way to pose as a background for the tam leader acho Penjor|
We were back on the track once again, the mountain lovers. Slowly we climbed leaving the lake far below, a few steps up and she vanished from our sight completely. Took in some deep breaths and kept on walking up, up and up. Reached the first laptsa in 40 minutes, weather was just fine, and everybody was lying around enjoying the view of mountain ranges far and wide. We took some random pictures then got back to walking. 10 minutes and we reached to another laptsa, but it was fully cover in thick ice form one side, you can just imagine at what speed wind blows at this height.
|Second laptsa with iced-snow all blown to one side by the speeding wind.|
Far below dark clouds engulfed Tshonapatta already and it was coming up. Icy wind started howling biting our little bared skins. The sky now roared above our heads and within no time it started throwing ice pellets on our heads. I looked up, my folks were hiking in a long chain against the white-mountain and when they climbed farther up they appeared like an army of ants marching into the blackish clouds. Looked back, Dechen Lhamu was having a real tough time, she was not only trying her best to keep walking but also get everything captured in her phone. Kinzang Namgyal was holding her by her left hand supporting and Ogyen held Kinzang’s hand form other, the cute trio portrayed a good brother-sister-hood.
|Sangay Khandu showing his thumb before he set forth to join the trekkers climbing up like ants .|
Real challenge was the climb from there to Tsejay La. Route all up in the blizzard, none stop hail stone hitting hard own our heads, speeding icy cold wind biting our almost frozen cheeks, very low visibility slowing down our already tired legs, and very low oxygen trying to knock us down with every step en route the giant pass. However, we were trekkers and nothing was going to hold us down. We were aware of all these, and with due respect to Mother Nature; it was just a matter of whether she will test us or not. With a mindset like this nothing was stopping us, we didn’t blame on anything also. We simply embraced the seasons of Mother Nature whole heartedly.
Acho Penjor was almost frozen waiting for the last group in the snow. He found a new route, quite risky cutting directly from the breast of the great Tsejay La, but in the interest of time he had to do it and we obliged. Felt kind of sorry for the new comers though, but we were trekkers and we must be in position to adapt to any change in plans in accordance to weather, place and time. So we did cut through descended for 15 minutes, we were already at Gongche La and 3 minutes walk down all our folks were waiting for us: first tea break after walking for one and a half hours in the harsh weather. Quite a relieve it was, finally to be reunited and getting back to our old route. We agreed, Menda made a good decision of not coming this time!
|Tea time below Gongche La after an exhausting and challenging climb in the blizzard|
Tied up our shoes laces, beat the last dust off our bums and descended to Wangthangji in 30 minutes we were there, and then climbed up for an hour to Tsabjo La. Weather got better within an instant. Sat there for a while and I heard them say we are to climb up rather than going down, so I climbed up about fifty meters. Wind started picking up, I saw my folks going sideways and then descended, although not following yesterday’s route. I thought they are going to climb anyway and I kept going up. I didn’t hear them calling me. Climbed about hundred meters and then knew I was going the wrong route. Ran down like a blue sheep over rocky trail, only then did I realize we changed the route and going to Dung tsho (trumpet lake) and Nga tsho (drum lake) where we will camp for the night.
Steep up, sharp drop, again up and down through the coppice towards meadow we walked. Thirty meters past lied beautiful Nga Tsho and far below was Dung Tsho. These lakes were two artifacts Pangbisa lama threw to distract the pursuing Tshonapatta. Acho Karma T., Sangay Khandu and I went around taking pictures while a few of fellow trekkers went circumambulating. Ripples danced in the wind as we drank her water. Sun high in the sky played hide and seek seldom throwing a few rays upon us. Behind the lakes huge mountains stood a guard keeping an eye on them. Dusk was around the corner so we paid our respects to the duo and walked a hundred meters below them to set our camps. It was 3.20 PM.
|Dungtsho, shot from the back of the lake|
|Sonam Wangchuk and Thinley Bidha coming down towards Dungtsho |
as Kinley penjor enjoys the view climbing on a rock
As always Gem and I headed north to set toilet tent. Earth was too hard for our little chisel that she belt on us time and again, Kinley Penjor’s foldable shovel did his part to some extent. Dug half a foot and couldn’t dig any deeper. We gave up, but did put the toilet tent. Below us folks were done with sleeping and dining tents. Tea was ready, so was the wind to exhibit her anger. No sooner did we have tea than the sky started to rumble, dusk set in and our tents started fluttering like prayer flags put on top of the hill. In the torment, our toilet tent was beaten black and blue from all angles by the ragging wind. Other tents won’t stop from fluttering unless we weighed them down with huge rocks. They were unhooked so many times yet they fought well and stood their position.
|Our third night camp site, 100 meters below Nga tsho|
Wind blew extra ordinarily harsh that night. We had to dine early fearing dining tent might either collapse on us or get blown away. The night crawled in inviting hail stone from up above, the starting slapping on our already sun brunt cheeks while heavy wind fanned dead woods burning all over in our small fire place. So thoughtful of junior team leader Kinley Penjor, he snuck out a bottle of whiskey – none of us drink, not in the mountains - opened up, stuck a small patch of butter on the mouth of the newly opened bottle making sure they met - which is the way it should be according to our tradition – and together with other folks offered a Changphey (alcohol/wine an offering) to the local deity. He said, “When the wind is harsh and sky stones on you in the mountains, it means you have trespassed someone else’s territory, and she or he is not happy with it.” I have heard it from elders too, and to appease them we need to offer Changphey. Within minutes hail stone stopped and the wind subsided. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in it or not, but if you want to have a quiet and calm weather, then respecting serenity and tranquility of the place is the utmost thing every enthusiast trekker or hiker should bear in mind: all the time.
|Our favourite cook preparing curry for our dinner at Nga tsho campe site. He is one of the finest trekking cooks everyone should look for, incase you plan on going for treks. He will make your tummy happy throughout the trek.|
From that point night was all ours. Tomorrow we don’t have to hike much that we know, so we stayed late by the fire. Spoke on so many topics mostly they had no meanings but we laughed hard on them. A few of them started gulping whiskey. It was winter and real cold that night, I completely understand the urge to give some shots. But, I had a terrible experience, of how I drank on the mountains and how it tortured me the whole night. Since then I have learnt: mountain and alcohol don’t go well. I shared my experience, junior team leader agreed. Dechen and Dawa were a little too excited of the first yet a wonderful trek, so they gulped to it. I had a little doubt. Took another shot. I was starting to get worried. Took third shot, and I thought somebody better be alert the whole night through. “Yaya, good night!” Trekkers went to crash.
Kinzang Namgyal the youngest trekker in Nub Tshonapatta Trek he shared tent with his two cousin brothers in the first night, but from the second night on senior acho Penjor’s recommendation Dechen and Dawa invited him to crash in their tent. The concept was simple: more folks in the tent that much heat it will generate. Since then he put up with them.
“Doctor, doctor, doctorrrrr?” A school boy reported to the principal. “Acho S.T, acho S.T?” Sounded familiar but we are in no school. “Yes, yes,” reply came in from another tent. I knew it was still in my dream. “Doctorrr.. Doctorr… ashim Dechen is sick la!” That woke me up completely. “What happened to her?” “Doctorrr, she has headache la. She has fever sir, vomiting also la.” “Did she drink?” “Yes, la, sir.” Everybody was up listening the whole time and judging the severity of it. Glad we had a doctor in the team, he understood the situation and we could rest assured, of course concerned we were. He gave a few medicines and she could go back to sleep shortly. I know what went through Dechen’s mind.
To know more about mountain sickness and its risks or treatment kindly read /check the following link: