March 2000– Journal excerpt

Sikkim trek – from journal

24 March

our vehicle was a jeep w/no windows, only canvas flaps, so it was pretty chilly for the first few hours.  all of the trek gear went in the way back and our bags on top.  we all managed to get some more sleep in, but it wasn't pretty!

stopped at the sikkimese border at about 7ish

basically drove from 4am until around 1 in the afternoon - a little bit longer than the 6 hrs i'd expected!  but very pretty drive.

went hiking w/rich and howard (denise wasn't feeling well) up to a monastery about 40 min up into the mountains.  first run w/the trekking poles went really well

howard said that this trip has given him a new appreciation for stone - we saw lots of road work on the way up and then there were people re-paving the path by the monastery - hard work!

passed cardamom fields

saw 2 water prayer wheels, but they weren't turning - not enough water yet

yuksom is a nice little town - lots of pigs in pokes up on stilts

had tea with rich at about 4 - onion pokaras - yum!

little bit of rain after dinner - weird traveling w/only 4 of us.  one lightning & one thunder

our tents are awesome - lots of side pockets (even overhead) and a vestibule!

they even made us a toilet paper holder for our bathroom tent!

beautiful smelling flowers on the way to the monastery

25 March

slept thru the night so i know i was totally wiped out!

could see a snow covered mountain this morning

trekked 9 miles - from 6500-9000 feet.  made a good pace (i love the trekking poles!) and did 3.5 hrs in the am and 2 in the afternoon.

kept a slow but steady pace and really enjoyed it - the path was beautiful - no orchids yet, which is too bad, but the rhododendron are glorious and there was a lot of the path which was pretty smooth.

saw 2 beautiful birds which were gathering nectar from the rhododendron flowers - they were the color of parrots - bright yellow & red heads w/ green (?) backs

lots of wonderful smelling flowers along the way too & butterflies

for much of the time we could hear the rush of the river & waterfalls - it was great!
lunch was good - in kind of a rocky place that was totally in the sun - french fries, donut-like bread, coleslaw, tuna and baked beans, with oranges for dessert

got to bakhim before the porters (but before our ponies) and waited in the caretaker's house - they were sitting around a fire drinking tong ba

i went out and stretched and the daughter came out to watch - she spoke no english.  i asked wangchu to ask her how old she was - she didn't know - i'm guessing about 15 or 16.

we're camped up above the caretaker's house and the trekking hut in a bowl with big rocks & trees - it's really nice

now that the sun's down, there's a definite chill in the air - may have to put 2 layers of pants on

tomorrow we hike 7 miles and shouldn't hit snow until lunch

26 March

okay, so we hit snow well before lunch - it was quite pretty for a while - very peaceful, passing thru fir & rhododendron forest.  like howard said, kind of like cross country skiing, but w/o skis

got ugly before lunch - steep slippery paths - going back is going to be really hard

got caught behind a dzo jam - 3 dzoes, one of whom was quite pissed off & had thrown off its load, were blocking the top of a hill & our ponies couldn't get past & i was behind the ponies.  for 15 minutes!   finally, wangchu came & we bushwhacked thru 3' of snow (i was still in just a skirt & t-shirt at this point).  the dzo looked pretty pissed (and he had really big horns)

beautiful birdsong, wonderful pine-y woods smell, the tinkling of horse bells

there was a stray (?) dog at lunch who was so sweet & kept putting its head on our knees

after lunch was difficult - lots of slush, snow and ice, plus got kind of chilly

glad we're camping & not staying in the   trekker's hut - it looked grim & our campsite is really scenic

snowed while we were hiking, hailed, too - wonderful!

for dinner, we sat on one half of the tent & there's a tarp up and the other side is the kitchen

gazillions of stars

went from 9000 feet to 13,000 feet today - feel much better at 13 than i did on my last trek

it's cold here!!

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