Day 4, Nyang to Mago
Trek duration: 9 hours
Trek route: Nyang – Tse La – Lap – Lurjim – Mago
Gradient: Gradual ascent to Tse La, followed by moderate to steep descent to the valley on the other side of the pass. Level walk from here on till Lurjim, followed by 1 hour steep ascent to reach a table-top. Descent thereafter for 40 mins and level walk of20 mins to get to Mago.
Altitude: Nyang (4680m) to Tse La (4720m) and down to Lap (4480m) and lower to Mago (3600m)
This was the 3rd consecutive day that we were up for an 8+ hour trek! We decided to leave early in the morning yet again, and the Nyang campsite was pretty much deserted by 6 am. Only after the customary breakfast, comprising of (you can guess by now) – rice and yak milk & cheese curry!
The way to Tse La involves an hour-long ascent through a wide pass. Even though Tse La is at an altitude close to 5000m, the ascent from Nyang was gradual for most part, other than a few moderate sections. Higher, barren peaks started dominating the surroundings and snow capped sections increased in number.
As we approached the Tse La – two lakes revealed themselves in the early morning light. A smaller one was visible towards the left when trekking up to Tse La, a few minutes away from the main trail. The bigger lake, in the shape of a ‘B’ falls along the main path, just near the pass. Most of the bigger lake was capped by ice, and the snow all around made it appear colder. We watched the pretty lake silently for a few minutes. The highest point of the trek was reached and the valley on the other side seemed inviting. A few photographs later, we headed off for the slopes beyond the pass.
A moderate descent lies ahead of Tse La, and this brought us down to a broad valley and narrow streams cutting through the plains which constitute the Sangti river further down. Heading right from here, one can reach Merathang, and approach the Gokyo Ri peaks. Seemed very inviting, but noted and left for another time.
We descended down to the riverbed and crossed over on the lone bridge as the trail now moved on over the farther side of the streams dividing the plains. The descent to the riverbed lasted all of 30 minutes and the next 2 hours was an easy walk to the huts of Lap.
The trail descended gradually through a wide valley with small meadows every hour or so – ideal camping grounds for those wishing to camp by the side of the stream and enjoy the sights of the valley. Its disappearing act finally over, the sun now beamed down with all its might on the valley, and provided a welcome change from the cold and cloudy days on the first part of the trek.
We ambled along with the horses, first to Lap and then further to Lurjim or Lurthim. There are a few huts in Lap where one can stay for the night. After Lap, the riverbed widens up significantly making for a nice, easy walk over the sandy bed.
There was still a long way to go and we decided to have lunch at Lurthim before proceeding. The usual rice-curry meal and some rest took a little over 20 minutes. The trail then continued along the stream, which now looked wider and sounded meaner. An hour through the rhododendron shrubs which emerged once again, and we reached a large boulder, which marked the start of a climb to the ridge we had to cross over to get to Mago. This boulder was located near the last source of drinking water on the trail for the next 2 hours, so we drank up and filled our bottles for the way.
A steep ascent was the way forward for an hour till we made it to the top of the ridge overlooking the settlement of Mago established in the valley on the other side.
The table top after the climb provided some great views of the adjoining mountains. The peaks towards Chimathang looked enticing to say the least, but the clouds descended once again to limit our views. The horses got some much needed rest here before the descent to Mago.
A few prayer flags atop the table-top marked the route forward, from where the descent starts to Mago. A quick, steep descent of 45 minutes and we found ourselves along the Tawang river. The slopes on the other side of the table-top were replete with more rhododendrons – bright yellow flowers blooming all around.
Mago was a relatively large settlement spread over a large area near the Tawang river. There was a significant presence of Indian army personnel as well along the road leading further ahead form Mago to the border. The hot springs at Mago are only a few minutes away from the main settlement.
It had started raining by now and Sonam pushed ahead to make arrangements for our stay in one of the homes in Mago. We were welcomed and made to feel at home by a lady and her family – three pretty little girls, amused at the size of our backpacks and us having trekked all the way from Dirang. As the rains had subsided, we decided to take a walk around the village and visited the homes of the locals who had trekked with us from Thungri. Butter tea was served over and over again as we huddled together in warm wooden huts and regaled memorable incidents from our journey together over the mountains. A home-made dinner was ready as we got back to our host in Mago, just in time before the rains came down heavily once again.