The Goechala Trek and my life lessons

Mandar Kale
6 min readJun 11, 2023

In this blog, I want to highlight my life lessons so I will start with that first. Though this trek was very draining and challenging, every moment of it was worth it for me — I have added a little bit about the trek itself but take it with a grain of salt.

My life lessons

Trekking can be an enlightening experience that teaches a lot about life. It can help us become more self-aware, understand our boundaries and limits, and learn important life lessons that can help us through various situations in our lives. This was my best, yet very challenging trek. Here are some life lessons that I learned/re-learned from this trek–

Lesson 1: Preparation — the journey from SpO2 64 to 94

Preparation trumps pressure!

Last year around the same time we trekked Gowmukh Tapovan. When on top, my SpO2 level was 64. Yes, 64! I could not enjoy the trek when we were at the summit and so I decided to make sure this year I was prepared to take on the challenge.

Since the time I came back last year, I have rarely missed my workout. I have gotten into a more healthy routine. Due to all the preparation during the last year and before the trek, I really enjoyed this trek and every day of it. The discipline I got into helping me be fit and maintain a SpO2 of 94 throughout the trek.

Bringing this lesson back to our day-to-day life, I re-learned the importance of preparing for whatever you are set to do.

Lesson 2: One step at a time and one day at a time

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Trekking requires a steady pace and a regular rhythm. It’s important to remind ourselves that success is not always sprinting but being consistent in our efforts. Just like in life, taking things one step at a time and focusing on the task at hand can make a big difference in achieving our goals. During the trek, my focus was always on the next step and doing the best I could to take that step right. There were days when we trekked/walked for 25kms (~30K steps). Any wrong step can spoil the entire trek and how you go about it. Just making sure you are focusing on the current task/step helps a lot. All of us on the trek were looking down and planning for the next best step possible. During this trek, we experienced all the weather conditions: heat, heavy rains, cold, snowfall, and heavy winds. It is all about just taking that next step.

In real life, we spend a lot of time thinking about the past, or too much in the future. This lesson, I extended to my life by just focusing on one day at a time. Do your best at each and everything that comes your way just at that moment.

Lesson 3: Everything is temporary — more importantly pain

Trekking comes with its own set of challenges, such as steep inclines, harsh weather conditions, and exhaustion. During this trek, there were times when it was raining heavily while walking/trekking in the zone of leeches. During other times, you are having a steep climb with heavy rain or hot sun on your head. You really feel like you are done. Then you take a 5 mins water break, have a good laugh on a few poor jokes and you are good to go.

These challenges are temporary, and pain eventually fades away. It teaches us the importance of resilience, grit, and determination in pushing through tough times in life. It also helps us realize that every situation is temporary and that there’s no need to hold on to difficult times by remembering those.

In real life also we need to understand that the situation that we all are in is temporary. Howmuchever low (or high) we feel, we all are going to see change. The pain is going to go away, just becoming a memory one day.

Where is Goechala?

The Goechala trek is one of the most popular treks in the Indian state of Sikkim. Located in the Kanchenjunga National Park, the trek takes you through some of the most breathtaking Himalayan landscapes, including dense forests, alpine meadows, and glacial lakes.

The trek starts from Yuksom, a small town in West Sikkim, and takes about 10 to 12 days to complete. From Yuksom, the trail leads you through dense rhododendron forests, where you can spot a variety of birds and animals. As you ascend higher, the trail opens up to stunning views of snow-capped peaks and deep valleys.

After several days of trekking, you reach the Goechala Pass, which is located at an altitude of 4,700 meters. From here, you can see some of the highest peaks in the region, including Mount Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world. The view from the pass is truly spectacular and is one of the highlights of the trek.

Our trek

Getting ready for the trek!

On the first day, we started from Yuksom, and on the first day trekked till Bakhim. The valley view from Bakhim's stay was very beautiful.

Best friends in Bakhim :)

The second day was a little easy from Bakhim to Tshoka.

Our campsite in Tshoka

On the third day, we went to Djongri. The next day morning about 3:30 am we went to Djongri Top to see the viewpoint.

Morning sunrise from the Djongri Top

Forth day was from Djongri to Thansing. If you trek a few meters from Thansing base camp, there is a point to see Kanchanjunga Peak if the weather is good.

Posing in front of the Kanchenjunga Peak

Fifth-day early morning at about 1:30 am, we went from Thansing to the Goechala viewpoint 1 summit. We came back to Thansing at around 1 pm. Unfortunately, the view from the top was not clear due to the bad weather.

The Goechala trek is a challenging trek, however, the breathtaking views and the sense of achievement you get after completing the trek make it all worthwhile. If you’re looking for an adventure in the Himalayas, the Goechala trek is definitely worth considering.

Some stats

If we add up the distances walked on each day of the Goechala trek, it comes out to a total of 112.5 km:

  • Sunday — 17.1 km
  • Monday — 3.6 km
  • Tuesday — 12.2 km
  • Wednesday — 15.2 km
  • Thursday — 20.4 km
  • Friday — 24.8 km
  • Saturday — 19.2 km

Over the course of 7 days and 6 nights, we covered a wide range of terrains, from dense forests to alpine meadows and glacial lakes. The trek’s highlight is reaching the Goechala Pass, which stands at an altitude of 4,700 meters and provides stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks.

As with any trek, it’s essential to stay well-prepared and ensure that you have all the necessary equipment and supplies. It’s also crucial to pace yourself and take things one day at a time. By the end of the 7-day trek, trekkers will have walked an impressive distance and accomplished a remarkable feat.

Our 112.5 KM Walk in 7 days

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