I pictured my first
hike to be on a bright and sunny day at some wood, with me trudging down a seemingly
straight path lined with arching trees, carpeted with russet leaves and twigs,
and admiring a squirrel or two eating acorns.
However, the first
hike I took delivered none of these things yet was perfect in every sense.
On a cold winter
morning clouded with mist, a couple of us mustered the courage to hike inside
the Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary in East Sikkim. The weather forecast threatened
a thunderstorm at noon but nothing deterred us that day—hiking we will go!
We drove up to Golitar, paid the entry fee at the Forest
& Wildlife Management Department’s office there to obtain a permit, and
hired a guide.
I started off with
great enthusiasm, sturdy stick in hand, into a captivating 4-hour walk I’ll
never forget. The trail took us through a forest of magnolia, rhododendron,
bamboo, pine, and maple trees. Brightly colored flowers peeked through the
green hue of leaves, branches, and moss now and then and birds chirped high
from the tree tops. I was trying not to miss the trees for the forest, so I
immersed myself in looking and envying every leaf, some speckled with dots,
others between transitioning colors; intricate spider webs glistening with dew
drops caught in a sliver of sunlight; small purplish berry clusters inviting
you to quench your thirst; and the most magnificent tree roots I ever saw. We
trudged on slippery stone steps and mud pathways, surprising us with sudden
steep ascents; under gnarly tree roots; over bamboo bridges built over rivulets;
around fallen tree trunks cutting our path; and past rain-drenched leaves
soaking our hair wet.
The enveloping mist
cast an eeriness that lent a natural monotone filter to the forest surroundings,
making the experience of the hike a unique one.
The hike is a little more than 5 kms, and it takes anywhere
between 2-2 ½ hrs to reach the top. Lacking any kind
of skill to undertake any hike, since a hilly terrain is new to me, it wasn’t
long before the altitude and constant climbing got to me. Luckily, there’s a
rest point half way up to recharge your energy levels.
At the highest point of the
trek is a watch tower from where you get an awe-inspiring view of Gangtok town
and the China border area on the eastern side. This is at a height of 7980 ft.
We ofcourse couldn’t see anything past the heavy shroud of mist but the walk to
the top was worth it. Teenjury roughly translates to 3 hill tops, so from there
we proceeded to the second hill top and then the third, thankfully each of them
only 3 minutes apart.