Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 6: Katao & Yumthang Valley

Route: Lachung - Katao - Lachung - Yumthang Valley - Lachung (80 KM approx)
Road Condition: Up to Zeku Phyak on the way to Katao the road is good. After that its all gravel. We couldn’t go all the way till Katao due to lack of permits.
Max.Altitude: 12800 Approx.(Between Zeku Phyak and Katao)

I got up and checked the time. I was surprised. It was 4:45 am and it was daylight outside. I came out of the room and was amazed to see snow capped mountains right in front of me. The day before, we couldn’t see anything as it was all covered with clouds. But now it was very clear and I could see the stunning mountain peaks right from our room!
Morning 5'o Clock View from Hotel at Lachung

Another view...

View from our Hotel at Lachung

We had early breakfast of puri bhajji and left for Katao at 7:00. We were aware that Katao was not mentioned in our permits so were not very sure whether we would be allowed by Army to reach Katao. The road from Lachung to Katao is again very steep which takes you at a height of over 15000 ft.
Way to katao from Lachung!

When we reached an army check post at Zeku Phyak, the in-charge at the check post demanded the permits and when he did not see Katao on the list, he immediately told us that we won't be allowed to go any further from there. We were very desperate to visit Katao which was some 14 km from that place. Despite pleading for long, the Officer didn't oblige. We also met a family had come in a 4x4 tourist vehicle and were thrilled to see us all from same place and that too on motorcycles. The in-charge then became a bit soft and allowed us to go till a point/ some distance further. For us, something was better than nothing so we quickly went ahead took some photographs. They told we were the first bikers to come so far! I was not very sure about their claim but then we allowed ourselves to feel proud none the less!
Way to katao from Lachung!

Thats the farthest we were allowed by Army men ahead of Zeku Phyak and before Katao

Posing with Army men at Zeku Phyak..they said we were the first one on motorcyles there!

We all wanted to go to Katao desperately but alas!

Winding roads reaching to Katao!

We then started back to Lachung and reached there at lunch time.
Way back to Lachung from Katao

Lachung Valley

Me and Manas had decided to visit Yumthang again as we had missed the hot water spring the day before. Parag was not feeling good so he decided to stay back and take some rest.

Rhododendron is Sikkim's state flower and is found in this alpine country.

As we started for Yumthang, we stopped on the way at a place where we met two army men who were manning communication vehicle. One them was from Rajasthan and other was from Assam. They treated us with coffee and it was a nice feeling. These brave men face so many odds and still do their job with so much commitment. Pity our job doesn’t stand anywhere near.

A cup of coffee from army men on the way...felt special!

We reached Yumthang at 4 pm. Everything (What? Shacks) was closed by then as all tourists had returned. Just as one of the/ the last shack was getting closed, I somehow managed to sneak in and get a drink for myself! We visited the hot water springs which were not very great but then it was my first visit to any hot water spring!
Hot Springs at Yumthang valley

We headed back to Lachung. Parag was not well. We had dinner and slept off early. The next day's destination was Thanggu.

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