Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Himalayan Holiday - Trek Day 3

The next day was a short seven kilometre, but entirely uphill, trek to the top of Sadakphu. At 3,600m it is the highest point in West Bengal, and of course offers splendid views of not only Kanchenjunga, but also Everest. We say farewell to our hosts, but meet the father and one of the daughters at the next checkpoint, they having overtaken us. Today the cloud has lifted from most of the nearby peaks, but the top of Sandakphu is ominously lost in the murk.

We reach the top after two hours of marching upwards. It is very windy, very cold, and the visibility is approaching zero. Splendid views indeed. We are shown to the accommodation and have some lunch. There is a stove inside, which could do with lighting. We are told that it will be in the evening. In the meantime our guides take us on a misty walk towards Phalut. This is the next stop on the trekking route, but we are heading downhill tomorrow.

When we return to the summit an hour later, we see two huddled masses. Under the blankets and wooly hats are two English tourists who have come up by Land Rover, and are staying the night. Cheating perhaps, but we didn't carry our own bags, so we can't talk! At five the fire is lit, which makes a big difference. We all sit around and warm ourselves up. One of the tourists has a guitar, which John offers to play. We then head off for dinner. They can't bring it from the kitchen because the weather is too foul, so we head off into the blackness to the dining building.

I mentioned that there is no electricity in the mountains, but that's not quite true. All the villages had solar panels on the roofs which charge up car batteries during the day. These then provide light in the evening. We sat down for our meal which included some yak meat. It was served diced and some chunks were tough, but others were very soft. Not too bad.

After finishing dinner we head back to the accommodation building. The stars are visible, which gets our hopes up for the morning. We sit around the fire and talk some more about Bollywood, Hindi soap operas and songs. When a local, sitting on a bed in the main room, begins talking to himself we all decide that it is time for bed. We retire to our freezing rooms, and go to sleep. Will we see mountains tomorrow?



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