gmhTODAY 07 gmhToday Mar Apr 2016 - Page 94

On Day 6, I awoke to sunshine and the sounds of birds, dogs and dzo bells. I was looking forward to what would be an easier hike through the moraine. We crossed small wooden bridges over creeks, passed Tibetan stone monuments and carved stones, and looked for the elusive Blue Sheep (never did see any) on our way to the Lamini Campsite (13,900 feet). Our seventh day was described to us by the guides as the “pinnacle” of the trekking experience. During three hours of strenuous hiking we made our way through darkness up the perilous trail to the Goechala Pass (16,207 feet). Our cooking staff served breakfast snacks and tea. We were overwhelmed by breathtaking views of Mt. Khangchendzonga (28,000 feet) and Mt. Pandim, (22,000 feet) above, and the huge moraine valley below. It was an experience we would never forget, to be so close to one of the world’s tallest mountains. We stood there among prayer flags and stone edifices, and took pictures of our group with the majestic Himalayas in the background. Beginning our descent, we passed the brilliant, turquoise waters of Samiti Lake and returned to the Prek Chu river valley. We set up camp at Kokchurung ( 11,400 feet). Over the final three days, we made our way back to Yuksom. We shared an experience of a lifetime with memories to cherish forever. I came home emboldened to take on new challenges outside of my comfort zone. I encourage others if a door of opportunity opens for a unique adventure, take it! 94 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2016