GOECHALA – HOW A TREK TAUGHT ME “LESSONS FOR LIFE!!”

Author: Moromee Das
Date: 2020-09-25

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Those who travel to the mountain tops are half in love with themselves and half in love with -The Oblivion !! 

In awe of the name, its difficulty level, and the excitement of crossing Khangchendzonga National park by walk made Goecha La the number one on my to-do high altitude trek list. Having done Roopkund before, I was well aware of the level of preparation I needed for a trek of this level, but at the same time, I was expecting the unexpected because mountains are mysterious and each one of them is different. Goecha La, unlike Roopkund, was incredibly long, and it tested our patience and will power in a much more stringent way.



But, regardless of all the hardships, now when I am back to my cubicle after those long hours of  “excruciating” walks through the colourful rhododendrons, dreamy tall pines, the bold and the beautiful oaks, the scary big rocks, the beautiful curvy brooks, the steep slopes, and the glaring snow-covered majestic mountain peaks, I can so very well understand the quote that says, “Between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery WHY we climb.” 

Goecha La Viewpoint- 1
               
Goecha La Viewpoint- 1 
Here are the few mysteries revealed… 

(1) All that will matter in the end is “The Journey”  
The trek started from Yuksom, the base camp, and a beautiful hamlet in Sikkim. It was an 11-day and 100 km-long trek, which meant we were supposed to cover on most of the days around 15-20 km.  This might sound like a small number but when done on a difficult trail like Goecha La, it eventually forces you to give up. But that’s where we have to push ourselves forward because in the end neither the pain of those steps that you take nor the happiness of the instant relief of giving up will be retained; all that you will remember will be the roads that you have travelled with a smile on your face.

(2) No matter what, DO NOT GIVE UP!!!
Take one step at a time, better than the previous one, and when it comes to life, take one day at a time, do something which makes you at least 1% better than what YOU were yesterday. 

(3) Be thoughtlessly aware of your surroundings. It’s a luxury! 
Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari says, “The only difference between Us-The Sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom is that the animals believe and live in OBJECTIVE REALITY, ie,  the river, the tree, the sky, the sun, the star, the fruits, etc, but we live in a dual world one of “The (dormant) Objective Reality” and the other of “The (overpowering) Imaginative Reality” like money, God, states, human rights, job, basically everything that is built by some belief system, and hence, the reason for the destruction of this beautiful Earth.

Dzongri (13,024 ft) was our 3rd campsite after Sachen (8,654 ft) and Tshoka (9,701 ft), and we had to spend 2 days here to get acclimatised. Two days, 48 hours, with nothing else to do sounded really long. However, after a long trek of 15 km from Tshoka to Dzongri and also with a warning to get up by 2:30 the next morning to catch the sunrise at Dzongri top at 13,778 ft, everyone was asleep by 6:00 pm, and thus, the first 24 hours did not appear difficult.

The next morning, it was indeed a tough and steep climb till the Dzongri top, but watching the sun rising in blend with the clouds and the mountains made it worth being there before sunrise.

Nevertheless, the whole trek was over by 7:00 am, and we had another 24 hours to spend before we set off for Thansing (12,946 ft) via Kokchurang, our next campsite. Given the sapiens that we are, I thought it would be really difficult to see the clock tick away for those 24 hours, but to my amazement, we spent the whole time sitting on a bench with these huge rocks in front of us, watching the beautiful brook flow nearby, observing the mules grazing, eating steamy hot momos, and feeling the day slowly turn into a pitch dark night without getting bored even for a second. I was jolted as to how “doing nothing” actually brought us in harmony with the creation of God, and that moment of living in objective reality and being thoughtlessly aware of the surrounding was actually BEING ALIVE.