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Goechala; a magical, electric and cinematic trek, is pretty much every adventure enthusiast?s much longed for and admired destination. It is unbelievably surreal and exceptionally daunting as well as thrilling. It demands energy, determination and vigor, especially. Nestled far away in the wilderness of Sikkim, Goechala trek is truly a gem and remains treasured for its exquisite topography, pleasant weather and the interesting map of trails that one traverses to reach the summit. The sights of panoramic views of mighty mountains that unfold along the way are drool-worthy and remain aspired by many travelers across the country, to say the least. Even though it has been a while since I trekked to Goechala, the fleeting nostalgic emotions continue to drive me crazy even today. The visuals of the trek are still fresh and I can fairly recollect almost every detail- THAT is how engaging and exhilarating the trek was.
It all began when I met three friends who were just as enthusiastic about trekking as much as I was. We briefly discussed mountaineering for a while and outlined an itinerary for Goechala expedition out of nowhere and the next thing I remember was that we were on a train to NJP, West Bengal. On our way we hired a guide through contacts, who was easily available for a reasonable cost and we glanced through other details that were necessary to get by.
As soon as we reached the NJP station, we met our guide and officially kick started our expedition. As per our itinerary, were to reach Yuksom this day. After a 6-8hrs drive through serene and delightful landscapes, we reached the beautiful town of Yuksom in Sikkim. We registered at a police station and paid a nominal permit fee at the forest check post as per the norms and then checked into our camps to relax for the night.
We started off early next morning with a trek to Sachen. The trail from Yuksom to Sachen passed through really thick and dense forests. It was a unique and refreshing experience. I vaguely remember viewing a series of little waterfalls called the Tshushay waterfalls along the way. The trek remained moderately difficult throughout the journey but got tougher towards the end as we got closer and closer to Sachen. We camped at Sachen that night.
Up next on the list was the trek to Tshoka. With aak forests, meanders, rhododendrons and moderately easy trek, this day was pretty fascinating as well as overwhelming. We witnessed a brief Tibetan culture at Bakhim and were taken aback by the breathtaking views of Mt Kanchenjunga and its range spreading far and wide in the backdrop at Tshoka.
We woke up relaxed and optimistic about trekking to Dzongri this day. The trail was well drawn but turned out to be steep in some sections. I remember, it was taxing and exhausting but that is what added thrill and adventure to the journey. We were greeted by dwarf rhododendrons along the way that were pretty and vibrant. We also came across beautiful, alluring and aesthetic landscapes encircled by snow-clad mountain peaks as we reached Phedang. Within 1 hour of steady trekking we reached Dzongri. At this point we stood at a height of 13,024 ft and trust me the air hit different! It was indeed a different energy altogether. We halted here for another day, to catch some breathe as well as acclimatize well. We hiked up to nearby areas, reached Dzongri top and thoroughly enjoyed the setting.
Dzongri to Thansing via Kokcharang, was the plan for the next day. We were eager, excited and totally up for the expedition. The route to Thansing was well defined, we passed through thick, moist greens and it was a fresh, wild experience. We descended and ascended at different sections to reach Kokcharang. We rested here for a brief moment and resumed the expedition with energy. The trail from here was impressive, we crossed the rive Prek Chu and traversed through dense forests to finally reach the base camp on the lush green, vast Thansing meadow.
The next day was the most happening and wholesome day of the entire expedition. Before we hoped onto the trail, never in the wild had any of us imagined/expected to have encountered such a crazy and soul-stirring experience. We started way early, while the sky was still dark; the weather, timing and overall vibes of the landscape together amalgamated to give us the most pious, electrifying and ?to-die-for? experience. We trekked to reach the crystal clear, sparkling Samiti Lake, which rested calmly amidst mighty snow-smeared mountains. The lake set our moods right and was a gateway to the real game-changing experience. We trekked higher and faster to catch the moment of sunrise at the Goechala View Point One. We reached a whopping altitude of 15,100 ft as we stood at the top of the View Point One. The sight was breathtakingly beautiful and rendered each one of us with Goosebumps and an inexplicable emotion that lies close to our heart, even today. Mt Kanchenjunga and its Range wrapped in golden sun-rays made us weak in the bones by their beauty and melted us like never before. After spending a good time at View Point One, we returned to spend some time by the Samiti Lake and further descended to reach Thansing, this day.
After spending a blissful night at Thansing, we trekked towards Tshoka retracing the same path that we took to reach the top, passing through the same landscapes, the next day. We halted at Tshoka for the night and trekked back to Yuksom via Sachen the next day. It was refreshing to experience the same journey in a different way this time. The descend obviously made the experience relatively easier and pleasant. We halted at Yuksom to spend the last night of our expedition in Sikkim and departed to NJP, early morning, the next day.
As easy as it may have sounded, the trek was pretty demanding and difficult. It is of course, best suited for experienced trekkers who have some prior mountaineering knowledge. The best time/season to visit Goechala is during spring, in the months of April and May when the Rhododendrons are in their full bloom. It is also the time when the weather is just about pleasant and apt for trekking. All in all, the Goechala trek has been a game changing experience for me.