Day 5, Mago to Thimbu Hydel and further to New Melling
Trek duration: ~ 7 hours
Trek Route: Mago –Thimbu Hydel – New Melling
Gradient: Steady descent from Mago to Thimbu Hydel with gradual ups & downs all along
Altitude: Mago (3600m) to Thimbu Hydel (2900m)
Our host in Mago graciously provided us a sumptuous breakfast the next morning, and helped us resume our journey to Thimbu early in the day. More appropriately, we were headed to Thimbu Hydel, as Thimbu village lies atop a hill, a detour on the trail from Mago. The trail is persisted with sans the detour, leads to the road-head at Thimbu-Hydel and further on to Jung.
There were now only 2 of us – Sonam and myself on the trail. By 7 am, the settlement of Mago was barely visible, as we hurried along on the path high above the Tawang river. The trek hereon was fairly easy, many ups and downs and the prayer flags made a colourful appearance every now and then – adorning the highest points of the climbs along the way.
The sights and sounds on this stretch of the trek are yet again different from those we had during the earlier days. Open landscapes, narrow rivulets and stunted vegetation now give way to lush green forests replete with tall trees and a raging river – the Tawang – which accompanies us all the way to Thimbu Hydel. Large rocky walls hold you in a stupor at times, some of them adorned by high misty waterfalls
Certain parts of the trail take you right alongside the Tawang river, where any chance of a conversation you may wish to have is drowned by the furious and noisy flow of the milky white waters. Feeble attempts had been made to barricade narrow stretches of the trail perilously close to the river. But the elements did not allow these to remain in place for long, and we had to make our way through such sections cautiously.
The river all along for company, we trekked the 18 kms from Mago to Thimbu Hydel in just over 4 hours. And we had more company too – army jawans posted at Mago and trekking up half the distance to Thimbu Hydel for their supplies. This route between Hydel and Mago, I was told, was the preferred route for getting across ration and supplies to the army units posted at Mago. Many an interesting conversation ensued and the army jawans delighted us with their stories, as always. Along the trail, we also passed the diversion that leads up to Thimbu – an hour’s climb from the main trail leading to Mago.
Although there was a decrepit bridge and signs of a trail on the other side of the river, we stayed on course on the true right bank of the river. A few huts and this memorial appeared along the trail, and soon we were in Thimbu Hydel.
Apart from army camps, there are a few huts and 2-3 shops at Thimbu Hydel. Army vehicles or vehicles involved in transporting materials for the road construction work in progress here, offer a ride to Jung. But to our disappointment, there were no vehicles plying towards Jung that day. We waited for an hour to try our luck at getting a vehicle to hitchhike in, but to no avail. As there were no huts or camping sites nearby that we could make use of, we were left with no option but to trek further ahead to New Melling. New Melling was another 6 kms away and tired as we were, the trek was completed in little over an hour, without a word being spoken.
Just as we entered New Melling, we decided to take a break for tea, while looking out for any vehicles heading towards Jung. There seemed to be no one visible in the few houses making up this small settlement, when an old lady approached us and greeted us with a pleasant smile. She lived alone here, she said, while her children and grandchildren lived in Tawang. There were a few ITBP officers sipping on tea in the old lady’s house and we were welcomed into this setting by the fireplace. Tea and conversations followed while we waited for a ride to take us to Jung. The old lady managed an adjoining PWD Guest House and suggested we stay there till we were able to get a ride.
The old lady was charming and New Melling seemed like a nice quiet town. The PWD Guest House was where we decided to stay here for the night. And what an eventful stay it was. A game of football and volleyball with the local children, a bottle of Chaang (the homemade rice beer) shared with a few residents coming back from work at the nearby farms, and finally a hot supper with the old lady’s house coming alive with stories from the ITBP folks – a fun-filled evening and we headed back to our small PWD room to get some rest for the night.