You, of course, carry on along the main trail, and two hours or so later, you’ll arrive at Thangsa, and then, another half hour takes you to Gairidanda (2,540 m), a ridge point that gives excellent views (danda means ridge). If the weather is clear, the northeastern Himalayan range offers a splendid sight for hungry eyes. However, one cannot expect everything to go as one wants, and the clouds up at these heights can be quite disturbing, so you have to be ready for anything, including disappointment at not seeing the magnificent Himalayan peaks. However, you’ll be somewhat compensated by the sight of Chayuris (cow and yak crossbreeds) grazing on the lusciously green hillsides, which is also a pretty picture. You may as well take a lengthy break at Gairidanda, because after that, for the next four-five hours, you’ll not come across any settlements. So, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get adequately nourished with tough grilled yak meat and thick tea made of chyauri milk. Now, up ahead, the trek begins to be a back breaking one, with the trail climbing steeply uphill through thick forests of a variety of high altitude trees, as well as Rhododendron, the national flower. This part of the trek consists of a four-hour climb that will surely test your stamina, not to mention your back and legs. After reaching the top, where there is a stone deity image (as is usually is on most ridge tops), you are advised to make a longish halt, which will help to acclimatize you to the higher altitude. The trail then descends to a small valley, from where some distance ahead is Kuri Kharka (3,200 m), where you spend the night in one of the shack-like ‘guest houses’ around.
A good night’s sleep, hopefully, and a sunny morning, again hopefully, paints a more enthusiastic and inspiring picture of magnificent mountains all around. Nice sight, but not much fun to climb! The trail now carries straight up again, this time across a mountain face, which naturally results in pretty ragged breathing all around, and an extremely slow pace. But, when you reach the top, you get a fantastic view of Gaurishanker, the goddess mountain, which stands apart from the other peaks on the horizon, with Melungtse Himal (7,023 m) beside her. From here, it’s only 200 meters more to the Kalinchowk Temple, but is a slow climb, since the track is narrow, and then there’s that deep gully on one side, and the high mountain on the other. So, it is a scary sight, yes—looks quite dangerous, doesn’t it? So, it is no surprise that it can take you more than two hours to reach the temple. Before you arrive there, however, there’s one more bridge to cross. Literally! An iron stairway across a chasm between the two opposite crests is what awaits you, and you’ll have to somehow pick up the courage to crawl across it. Reminds you of Indiana Jones, does it? Anyway, having done so, you then climb to the very top, which is barely 200 or so square feet in area, and here is where stands Kalinchowk Temple, dedicated to Kalinchowk, another form of Goddess Bhagwati, that powerful Mother Goddess of the Hindu pantheon. She is symbolized by a natural spring arising in a small pit, and all around the site, you’ll find many tridents, that three-forked weapon of the goddess. It should all inspire you. Even if it doesn’t, the awesome panoramic views from here definitely should!