Saturday, July 01, 2017

Journey to Merak and Sakteng: Day 3 - Trekking from Merak to Sakteng (Part 1)

Last glimpse of Merak - Trekking from Merak to Sakteng

The trekking day from Merak (3,520m) to Nachungla Pass (4.153m):

Merak to Miksateng
16KM | 5 HOURS | 633M ASCENT | 1073M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3080M
Today is the toughest journey of the trek crossing the highest Nachungla pass at 4,153m. From the campsite climb gradually to the first pass at 3,900m from where you can have last glimpse of Merak valley. Continue the trek along the tree line of juniper and rhododendron forests and conquer the Nachungla pass. Then you will descend to your camp Miksateng at 3,080m surrounded by rhododendrons. (Source info: TrekkinginBhutan.com)

The phone alarm rang at 5 am. The sky was still dark and the air was so cold. It made me difficult to get out from the warm blanket. K got up first boiling water and preparing ema datshi with rice for our breakfast plus packed lunch. Oh, I was so grateful having him around hahaha... :P I smelled the nice coffee aroma from the tumbler that he was holding. Time to get up!!! I sipped it slowly... Hmmm.... very nice la!!! We had breakfast and then washed up. While he washed dishes, I changed and packed the bags, getting ready for our journey.

Prayed before starting our trekking journey - In front of the Lhakhang in Merak, Bhutan

Before leaving the village, we first went into the Lhakhang. We could not find the caretaker the day before. So just nice we could catcher her that morning and requested her to open the door for us. We offered our prayers before starting our trekking journey and offered our gratitude for the past days that had been gone. We both were blessed with good health and help all around. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!! :) 

K with the bags, big knife, and stick throughout the journey - Merak to Sakteng trip, Bhutan

We were supposed to carry two bags each. But I had difficulty and K couldn't help but taking another one from me. Oh my... I was feeling pain to see him carrying it all, and very guilty for not being strong enough physically. 

Last glance of Merak. K prepared walking sticks for both of us :)

Apart from that he still carried a big knife by his side that could be handy in times he needed. He made walking sticks from the tree branches, which was very useful throughout the journey.

Climbing up through the pathway :)

Wefie - Me with resting pose as taught by Kipchu :)

It was our first time trekking to this path, had never been there before. So we only got our info from the website, from villagers' explanation, and mostly our intuitions. The road path was quite significant though, as per shown in the photos above, although no single signage could be found throughout the way. We did not see anyone too. The place was as if belonging and made only to both of us :D

Leftover snow seen on the ground - Merak to Sakteng

As we walked further up, we could see the leftover snow seen on the ground. Ohhh, it was our lucky day though!!! There was no sunshine nor rain. The weather was perfect!!! :)

Reached altitude 3,800 m up :)

Trekking path from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

I enjoyed the walk so much!!! We passed by many mountains. As we walked, the view of the mountain beside us changing all the time. The flowers and trees were different too :)

Trekking path from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

Beautiful small plants found between the rocks - Trekking from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

More snows were seen. We had to walk more carefully this time. K preferred to walk on top of it though and we clicked few pictures there to preserve the memorable moments :)

Snow everywhere :)

After walking almost 4 hours time, we finally reached the Nachungla Pass at 4,153 m height. We recognized the Pass easily by looking at the prayer flags and stones that were set over there. Wow!!! We finally reached the place!!! We put our bags down, sat down and took a good rest while offering our prayers to the sky above :)

Our happy face :)

Building our stone wishes on top of the Nachungla Pass - Eastern Bhutan :)

After a while, we went to build the stone wishes :) It had become our habit since our first journey to Bhagsu waterfall located at Dharamsala, India.

Stone wishes at Nachungla Pass, Bhutan :)

Beautiful Himalayan mountains surrounding the Nachungla Pass, Eastern Bhutan

Both of us at Nachungla Pass, Eastern Bhutan :)

Stone walls not far from Nachungla Pass, Eastern Bhutan

Beautiful mountain view near Nachungla Pass, Eastern Bhutan

Around half an hour later, we finally found the resting place, which we initially thought was Miksateng since the timing that we took was about 5 hours time, which matched with the trekking guide from the website above. Miksateng campsite was the place where people usually stayed for a night before continuing their trekking to Sakteng. However, only when we found the real Miksateng campsite with proper signage, then we realized that this wasn't the one.

Resting place near Nachungla Pass. Trekking from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

Those how was the place looked like, a place for people to stay and rest. You could even ignite the bonfire inside when there was a rain or just to keep the body warm :)

K could not resist not to ignite the bonfire since there was traces where people had it outside the resting place. Anyway, we had pot with us in case we had to cook with fire. Since we did not want to waste our effort bringing it so far, we decided to cook something with it. Cooked what??? We already had our packed lunch ready and had only limited source of water to drink.

Kipchu ignited the bonfire to boil the snow into water :)

He had an idea of getting the snow from nearby area (since we could not see any source of water around the place), and boiled it into water. We also brought sachet of hot chocolate, seemed perfect to have it with biscuit. So, while K collected the snow and prepared the bonfire, I set up the lunch at the resting area :) Teamwork!!! ^^

Our lunch and tea break together :)

While water was boiled, we enjoyed our lunch - rice and ema datshi plus ezzay. Such a perfect food and perfect time (12.40 pm). When lunch was done, our water was ready too!!! We sat next to the bonfire and poured it to our tumbler. Hhhmmm..... zimbeh la.....!!!! It was such a wonderful experience for me. My first time trekking with picnic lunch plus tea break next to bonfire surrounded by beautiful nature, and it was only two of us!! Amazing!!! Loving it so much!!! :)

2 comments:

Tashi Chenzom said...

Your crazy trek as you described over the phone! So the romantic story of you and the beautiful nature stretched all over merak and sakteng. Thumbs up!!

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you Tashi!!! :)))

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