Day 5 (Acclimatization day in Dzongri):
Today was considered as a resting and acclimatization day for us. The only physical activity we had was to climb up to the top of Dzongri (~4,150m) to watch the sunrise. Our guide woke us up at 4 am with hot black tea. We started the climb at 430 am in pitch darkness with our headlights and reached the top of Dzongri at 530 am, just in time for the sunrise. At the top of Dzongri, we saw the sun rise from the east, casting its rays on the mighty peaks of Singalila and Kanchenjunga ranges in the west direction.
At the Dzongri top, we saw a group of elderly Japanese trekkers in their sixties and early seventies who reached there before us. Despite their age, they were very energetic, constantly moving around with their bulky DSLR to find the best spot for their group photos and portraits against the mighty Himalayas. They were also very well equipped with sturdy shoes, mudguards, Gore-tex jackets etc. With our lethargic looks and mediocre wear/equipment, it was difficult to not develop a kind of trekkers’ inferiority complex within us.
We reached back to the campground at about 645 am. The rest of the day was spent lazing around, doing our usual body maintenance routine, waiting for meals to be served and bedtime.
Breakfast – Pancake, sausage, egg, cereal with milk
Lunch – Sandwich, noodle soup, sweat corn, fried long beans, luncheon meat
Dinner – Pumpkin soup, fried rice, momos, cauliflower, stewed vegetables, pizza, banana pie (dessert)
Day 6 (Dzongri – Thangshing):
The temperature outside was -1 Degrees Celsius when we woke up the next morning. Small specks of ice formed on our tent and the surrounding grassland. It did not snow the night before. Water vapour must have condensed and then froze on these surfaces. The water in the drinking tube of my waterbag (which i placed inside the tent) was also frozen. Breakfast was a hearty affair of oatmeal, toast, omelet, apple fritters.
The day’s trek was a relatively easy, with an amazing view throughout. Thangshing (~3,900m) was a meadow at about the same altitude as Dzongri. The trail from Dzongri to Thangshing first descended for about 300m to Kokchurong, followed by an approximate 300m ascent to Thangshing. We started our trek at 9am and reached Thangshing at 130pm. The total distance covered for that day was about 9 km.
The first part of the trail passed through forests consisting of Rhododendron, Juniper, Pine and Fir trees. Once we emerged out of the forest, we were greeted with a welcoming sight of Kokchurong (~3,600m) by the bank of the gushing Prek Chu river. At Kokchurong, there was a trekkers’ hut and a small campground. Kokchurong, being lower in altitude than Dzongri and Thangshing, seemed to be a better place to stay at night (at least more comforting psychologically for those who are afraid of the cold). However, the campground gets occupied very quickly, so you would have to plan on setting off early and reach there well before others.
We crossed the Prek Chu river and trekked along its river bank to get to Thangshing. This part of the trail was the wettest among all. There were many small streams and surface runoffs that flowed down from the hillsides towards the river. Some sections of this trail was also quite muddy. The river banks and the small pockets of islets in the river were covered with autumn red vegetation. Fog, moss- green rocks and the surrounding coniferous trees further reinforced an Alice- in- Wonderland effect.
Thangshing was located on a big flat meadow (as big as a few football fields), with a trekker’s hut at the entrance. Due to the open space, the wind was quite strong. The night in Thangshing was probably the coldest at -5 Degrees Celsius. After dinner, we were served with canned fruits cocktail for dessert, however, the meticulous cook made a point to warm it up before serving.