Ok, I’ve gathered myself now. To narrate the climbing experience. If you reader, are an avid trekker or a dare devil, you might find this story inane. But if you are like me, battling to overcome your acrophobic instincts, then you may be able to relate to this.
So why did I have to explain all this in such excruciating detail? Just to emphasize the fact that most fears are man made and that it can be overcome with positive thinking and the urge to conquer the fear. What the human mind can conspire still continues to amaze me. If it desires, it can make me wet my pants on a railway over bridge; on the contrary it can also motivate me to climb mountains! No wonder someone rightly compared it to a monkey. Restless. Boundless. Reckless. I would've missed all these views, had I not pushed myself.
The Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in West Sikkim, is a place where every nook and corner radiates beauty. However, some of these beautiful places are daunting too, especially for people like me – steep cliffs, sheer drops, snow-covered slopes and so on. One such place is what the locals call ‘Barsey Top’ or ‘Barsey Point’. It is about a kilometer away from ‘Guras Kunj’, the forest guesthouse. But the catch is that the second half of this walk is a steep climb. I’m not afraid of climbing. I’m an asthmatic, yes, but I’ve overcome that to a fairly decent level, with positive thinking and breathing techniques. But the bigger problem was the fear of elevation – the gorgeous views that would accompany the climb, those very views would make me shudder and lose my balance. But the fighter in me said, “If you don’t do this now, you will never do any of those great Himalayan/alpine treks that you dream of doing someday”. So, believe it or not, I was the first one to jump up and say, “Let’s go.”
|The beginning of the pathway. Who wouldn't want to tread this path?|
|The temple made of stacked stones. This is common sight in Sikkim.|
The first half was as expected. Easy. Then began the climb. Initially, the cobbled stone path was wide enough to accommodate 2 people walking side by side. Later, it tapered down to a very narrow line, which could allow 1 person to step at a time. There were places where at one end of the stone path was a sheer drop. This was when my problem started. All this while, I was holding one of my friends’ hands for that comfortable feeling. Now, she had to walk ahead of me and I had to handle those steps, all by myself. Thankfully, she was a very courageous person who happened to be my messiah that day. She walked just before me, and still lent her hand so that I could keep shadowing her. She also kept talking about the several wonderful experiences that we had during the trip, so as to encourage me to keep thinking positively. And you know what I was doing? I was busy chanting,” I’m going to make it”. Strangely, the very presence of our trek guide, Mr. Hissay Sherpa also provided a great sense of comfort. And oh yeah, I made it to the top! In fact, we loved the place so much that we went there again the next day, sharp at 5 AM to witness sunrise. The second time, I had a bit of breathing difficulty, but it all vanished when the sun rose!
|5 AM at Barsey point. It's still moon's world. Can you spot the crescent?|
|The valley below. 5 AM. Barsey Top.|
|Sunrise at Barsey Top.|
|Kanchenjunga range view from Guras Kunj|
|Views on our way back. That green hut is the place where we stayed.|
|Coffee with Kanchenjunga|
|Maggi with the mountains!|
|Selectively shining sun|
Please note - I’m not saying that I’m not acrophobic now. I’m still scared of heights, but the magnitude of the fear is slightly lesser. I’m confident that I’ll, one day, accompany my husband on those wonderful mountain treks, which he does every year.
And one last word here – A big shout out to those lovely people who were with me at that time, without whose help I wouldn't have been able to make it.
P.S: This is the penultimate chapter of this travelogue. It will end with my Siliguri experience. So, please do stay tuned!