Day 4 - Molley
In the early morning, it's the new view of the landscape that wakes me up. The visibility is not good, and our guide let us sleep as much as we want and it feels good. After a breakfast in bed composed of omelets, and toast, the guide makes us understand that we have to get out of bed now and keep walking. This third day of walking is the vaguest of all.
My feet, my whole body ended up surrendering, at the cost of my mental presence. I'm here without being there. I'm talking but nothing really goes in my brain and everything is hard. My legs are tired and, even if the path is relatively flat, the slightest climb is complicated. We watch the herds of horses pass us in front. The landscapes follow one another again without any logic.
The desert steppes with calcined trees give way to a green vegetation and all in bloom. When my feet cannot stand, I see our guide walking towards an eatery to stop for lunch. I am now on the ladder of joy. Except that two minutes later, he comes out of the eatery, to say there is no lunch. We break from here! We only have a little tea, and then we break.
It is time for me to change socks when our guide announces that we cannot go to Phalut that day because there are no rooms available in this place. So we have to stay in Molley. It is a little away from the trek but just 3 kilometers downhill. When we arrive in Molley, the girls are already settled on single beds planted in a small room with 4 beds. It is cozy, it is comfortable and, since it is only 2 pm, it's hot!
Lunch is prepared with love and we eat again like big eaters. It's always rice, potatoes, and dal, but it's always a treat. After a little ginger tea, our sleeping bags call us for a well-deserved nap. And what happiness to have the time to let oneself sleep in the middle of the afternoon. What happiness for my little body to have not had to walk the 20 km originally planned but only 14 km.
We learn to be content with the little room, a hot meal and a whole afternoon to doze. Molley, I love you. After a stroll in the sunset, we get back, to be wrapped in our sleeping bags. But the silence lasts a short time. My reward comes to me in the form of our guide who knocks on the door shouting to come for dinner. It is happiness, again and again.
Day 5 - Phalut
We rise at 5 am to see the sunrise, that is breathtaking even if the Himalaya remains in the clouds. Then the fog rises very quickly from the valley. So, we take advantage of the mild weather to go watch the sunrise on the Kanchendzonga. At Phalut, the time has nearly failed to play tricks. Indeed, at 5:30, the guide told us that there was fog and that we could sleep longer. But around 6:30, the fog had fallen back into the valley so we could enjoy the view.
We take our time. The bodies are rested, the spirits are calm, and everyone is ready for the 24 km that await us today. I spend the first part of the day, alone in the back, with the pleasure of hearing songs of Frank Sinatra and Moulin Rouge. It makes me feel good, and I have a lot of energy. This part of the day, although climbing steeply between the rhododendrons, goes at a crazy speed.
Before I could realize that I'm walking, I sit in the grass at Phalut. Our guide prepares tea that we drink while looking at the sight when the sounds of bells come. From the top of the summit, yaks come down at full speed. The day before, a yak festival was there in the steppes with calcined trees, and these must be expected. This does not prevent them from taking a short break to graze the particularly tender grass of the base of Singalila Peak.
This is the moment we choose to walk the kilometer and a half that separates us from the highest peak I have ever been able to climb. The moment is still surrealism, like most moments of my life. The yaks, the friends, and 3670m of altitude. A photo, smiles, and a break where everyone is isolated. The visibility is not excellent but it is a wonderful place to be with oneself. I saw my thing. It's perfect.
For now, it's to live alone. Dozens of kilometers to get here, and know that it's not an end in itself. Only after that moment, other kilometers await us. Since this morning, I've been singing songs on my mind. I am sitting on a rock at 3670 meters above sea level. I watch attentively the path of a tiny red spider wandering on the lichen and dry moss and I try to see things with its eyes, to feel through it. That's when I understand all that, each way makes sense. Wherever it wants to go, I will know how to love it.
The descent to Gorkhey is done in joy and lightness. Small hailstones fall on us in the early afternoon and as we lose altitude, turn into rain that was first light and then heavy. We go down the mountainside on a small enchanting path surrounded by bamboo trees and the land on which we walk gradually becomes muddy. I realize that I do not have waterproof pants. Because yes, at that moment, I already know that I am addicted to this activity.
The rain finally stops as we come out of the thick fir forest to come face to face with the land. I see simple terraced crops along the valley that goes down. There is a river running in torrents amidst all this and a hallucinating greenery after the rain. Clouds descend along the trees of staggering size. Paradise is at our feet. People did not lie. Gorkhey is not a place where you can spend only one night. Small families welcome us, and we find a pearl.
We find a room and the blankets for finally warmer temperatures. We lost 1300 meters of altitude in a few hours. Our knees are heavy and our clothes are soaked. We decided that evening to pay our guide for a day extra. It is unthinkable to leave this place the next morning. It was one of the best decisions of my life. The dinner that is served to us that night is one of the best things I have ever eaten.
There is rice, potatoes and cabbage leaves picked from the family's kitchen garden, all cooked with love. There is a dal to die for and papad, the thin crispy cakes of chickpeas with spices. The beds and the blankets are soft, and there is even a small shower. I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not in a dream. Geographically, this place is accessible only by hiking, as no road comes here.
Day 6 - Gorkhey
The awakening in this place is incredible. Blue landscapes, firs, comfortable beds and the certainty that we stay in the same place from morning to evening. I already know that this day will be great. The plants are all in bloom, and the colors are hallucinating. Orange flowers grow under our window, while violets dot the path to the river. A tea is served to us in bed by our smiling guide.
I go out to take pictures of the river from the bridge. As the road does not come up to Gorkhey, the village is almost entirely independent. Each family has goats to mow the grass from time to time and cows for milk and, consequently, butter. Roosters roar at any time of the day to whoever wants to hear it. Roosters wander among the potato plants, to eat the few worms that venture on the young pea shoots.
Some semi-wild cats play hide-and-seek between the green leaves of cabbages. The peas have clad their little white flowers that compliment the green of their stems so well. The cabbage preferred the yellow chick to be well seen and tiny blue flowers spread carpet at our feet with every step. Some horses wander around mountains, on the Sikkim side of the river and nonchalantly graze the wet and still wet grass of the day before.
I do not give myself much time to think. In the river, the water is icy that comes from the glaciers of the Himalayas. It is 10am, the sun is perfect, and the cold water stings my skin. The difference between the water and the air is such that I am instantly warm. I go back to our little room through a small wobbly bridge. The sun bathes the landscape as I wait for lunch.
Cats cohabit with chickens and I'm in love with this place. After the nap after lunch, I go for a walk at sunset. We decide to go for a drink in one of the guesthouses of the village. A group of locals will have the merit to introduce us to the Tongba. It smells of alcohol. I am curious and orders one of these things. In a small barrel-shaped container fermented millet is placed and a bamboo straw comes out.
Boiling water is brought separately and we are told to pour the water on the millet, let infuse for ten minutes and consume. This alcohol intrigues me, and there are aromas of the wine. The taste is just as much, but it's pleasant. The advantage of this alcohol is that it is sufficient to add boiling water, until exhaustion of taste. So to sum it up, it's the highest value alcohol in the world.
In the evening, at the table, we have our meal with rice, Dal and Aloo fries. I almost screamed when the guide put them on the table. So it's slightly pompous that we leave to join the arms of Morpheus under our blankets fleece. Gorkhey, you've sold us a dream again! The rain has started again, and it will not really stop during the night.
Day 7 - Rimbik
When we woke up the rain subsided. A dazzling sun awakens us as if to say, hey guys, today is a perfect day to walk. We agree enough and happily pack our bags while waiting for our breakfast. We take our time to drink our digestive Darjeeling tea. Life is Sweet. We leave after a breakfast of Tibetan rolls, chapati, omelet and aloo dum.
I feel happy to put on my shoes again and walk a little. And damn, I'm right. The landscapes are just crazy with rainforest across a big river, sheltering the red panda and leopard. There are gigantic bamboo trees, and hemp growing in the wild. Well, of course, the only thing that happened to happen is a nice little black tea in the town of Ramam.
And the descent begins through terraced crops of potatoes and peas. Here the peas are almost mature so we pick a pod to taste. It is good, sweet, tasty and organic. The spectacle of the descent is magical. There are dozens of small villages spread out at different altitudes. The colors of the roofs are complimented by the sun that illuminates the valley with all its power.
It is 1:30 pm when we arrive at the edge of the river, in the village of Srikhola where a Nepalese grandma prepares us a feast in less than half an hour. We are guzzling like hungry children. After the meal, we decide to go to the last point of the trek: Rimbik. We follow the winding road and at the end of an hour and a quarter, we arrive at the lodge, a little before the town of Rimbik.
The place seems to be much more imposing than all the little cute villages we've come across so far. We are too tired to immerse ourselves in the city, so we put our bags in the small dormitory of this beautiful guesthouse again where we are alone.
It is 4:30 pm. I fall on one of the single beds whose mattress is firm. And I start to realize that I have done 90km spread over 5 days of walking. I'm going to take a hot shower. And it's complicated not to have once again tears in the eyes before so much happiness. The shower is wonderful even if the pressure of the water jet is nonexistent.
We arrive in the dining room where the Tongbas are served. I cover the millet of boiling water, and we chained the parts of gin rummy by exchanging on the beauty of our situation. The meal is fantastic and the night sky is just as much.
Day 8 - The End
It is 6.30 am sharp when the jeep driver honks in front of the guesthouse. We jump back by thanking one last time the pretty lady of the guesthouse. The journey will be exhausting. We have 5 hours of winding mountain roads behind a crowded jeep. As we enter Darjeeling, we get back to the tiring civilization! After a meal of potato pancake, we walk painfully back to our small haven of peace. Our room is still intact. From Darjeeling, we go directly to Kalimpong. The town is more typical and quiet, and our goal is to recover!
As I said above, it's complicated to compile everything I've learned about this trek. After five days of a first trek, all these answers are worth in my head. But I think the most important thing is this. The reason I like trekking is precisely because there is absolutely no reason.