Sandakphu is the only trek in our country where you can see a grand buffet of the highest peaks in the world including Mt Everest and Kanchanjunga. It’s awe inspiring panoramas had already got my adrenaline pumping and a group of 23 people from all over the world would then come out of their comfort zone and unite at our base camp Jaubhari.
The lights of Darjeeling can be seen twinkling on a distant hill. Here, I was introduced to the strangers who were going to live with me for a week. With clear weather on our side, we started marching ahead with enthusiasm through the dense forest. It was so dense that the light barely hit the ground.
After a continuous ascend, there was our first encounter with the mighty Kanchanjunga and it just got better from here.
It was still a long stretch to our destination but it also gave us leverage to know each other better. Being New year’s eve and considering dusk approaches faster in the North east, I was in no mood to miss the sunset in the mountains.
The moment I reached our destination Tumling (Nepal), I threw away my backpack aside and rushed to see the daylight fade. The sun was down, but the afterglow of the sunset was still radiating on the horizon.
The big blue sky had let the other colors come out and painted it with shades of crimson pink. As dramatic as it looks, the rays swayed away from the sleeping buddha as calm as ever for the last time in 2019. This sight will be etched into my mind for a long time to come.
Next morning, we saw the first sunrise of 2020 and continued our voyage of adventure with the stunning panaromas of the tallest peaks in the backdrop. Listening to the symphony of the nature through the enchanting forest trails was truly an escape to the worldly temptations and sufferings. By the time we were already breathing one of the purest air and left the polluted cityscape far behind us. There was no signs of cellular network nor the internet, making us totally disconnected from the outer materialistic world.
Our happiness never had an end when we celebrated the New Year with a rum cake in probably the most windiest and isolated place, one can ever imagine. The tiring day and chilling environment made us sleep in no time. As hours melted into days, landscapes changed, strangers became friends and a group of 23 trekkers was thus a family now.
The Sandakphu trek offers a unique experience of constantly flirting with the Nepal border. At Aahl campsite, you will be waking up in India and having your dinner in Nepal. It is also likely that you will return from the trek humming your favorite Nepali songs. Such is the level of cross cultural influence in this trek.
But little did we knew that the snow storm was brewing upon us. We were in a dire situation with very low visibility and no signs of civilization.
The snow had wiped off the trail and the wind was blowing my feet making it extremely hard on the knees.
The storm raged on throughout the night. But something woke us all. Unzipping my tent I saw the world’s tallest peaks staring at me and waiting for the sun to enlighten them.
Putting my numb feet into the frozen shoes and keeping the faith alive, I crawled with my paralyzed feet. The clouds were below me and there was only the thin air which stood between me and the gigantic Kanchendzonga. Soon the peak was shrouded with the golden rays of the sun.
The unthinkable unfolded before my eyes. Words fell short to describe the feeling. It was the walk of my life, something more than all of my wildest dreams combined. The reward that we all deserve after surviving inhospitable conditions and never losing hope. In retrospect, I cannot help but smile for the choices I made. Our infinite adventures would then follow us for many days to come. But some words are better left unspoken while some things are better left unsaid for you to experience and feel it in real.
Sandakphu is not just a trek. It’s more than a dream.