This dates back to the 23rd of January, 2022 almost towards the end of the cold toe-biting winter. I, along with my brother and a few of our friends decided to go on an impromptu trek to the second highest peak in Nagaland – Mt. Japfu which lies at an elevation of 3048 meters above sea level.
We started our journey from Kohima (Capital of Nagaland) to Kigwema (Southern Angami region) where we halted at Greenwood Villa for breakfast and to meet the rest of the group. After breakfast, we headed from the Villa across Japfü Christian College and all the way to the Pony farm, a few minutes drive from there and reached the parking lot.
On reaching, we did a little stretching and got ourselves ready for the trek. Now, a few meters away from the parking lot, my brother and his friend decided to go back home saying they will not be able to make it till the summit, a big LOL! But I can’t blame them, you need to be active and also have the zeal to take on such a trek.
So we continued on our trek, crossed a small bamboo bridge across a stream, and once we passed the potato farm we got closer towards the mountain. Lest I forget, I responded to nature’s call on the way up, I mean what is an adventure without doing your business in the wild with the majestic snow-capped mountain in sight!
After wrapping up my business, we proceeded on with the trek, it was an uphill battle! I had my camera bag with me, my trekking bag with enough water bottles and food to eat, you can only imagine the load. We walked through the dense forests of Kigwema with sunlight seeping in through the branches of trees, feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin. The forest is filled with bamboo groves, rhododendron trees, and cherry trees, amongst others.
As we neared the basecamp, we started to notice the ice melting which got us super excited. We took a breather at the base camp for about 10-20 minutes and then proceeded towards our destination. On reaching the junction intersecting the two villages, Kigwema and Jotsoma, we took a break for about a good 10 minutes and snacked on our food.
We could already see the frost along the road trail and it motivated us to finish our trek. Two of the senior trekkers went ahead of us whilst the three of us took our time and walked while playing along the frost-covered trail. The trail was a slippery one but with a stick in hand, I managed to walk up.
The view on the trail was a mesmerizing one. The trees and the ground were covered in snow totally giving us the whole Narnia experience. With our hopes up to at least experience some snowfall, we marched on. We caught up with the two of them and proceeded, we soon heard people talking and singing and merry-making, we had reached the snow point. There were families, a group of youth, and some older men with a bottle of vodka just like how the Russians do it!
But this snow point wasn’t the end, we were yet to reach the peak! We started walking up the steep hill from the snow point. Now, this was a challenging one. I got to experience rock climbing without proper gear, it was scary, but that was the thrill of it! It was quite an adventure for me. I thought I’d never make it to the summit, but somehow I kept on going. I wanted to see the whole view from the peak. I climbed the rock wall with the help of the boys who guided my every step and hoorah! I made it, we all made it. Trekking a little further ahead and much to my dismay, there was a rock wall that we had to climb to reach the peak. All hopes of reaching the summit were gone. I thought “Hey, I can see the view of Kohima and the valleys beyond from here, maybe I should just wait here.”
But who am I kidding? I did not want to be left behind, so I tagged along with the boys. Now, this spot wasn’t a joke, one mis-footing and you’d drop to your death. I held on to the ropes that were already clamped by trekkers who were there before. After much struggle on the slippery icy rocks, I reached the top with the help of the boys.
We then proceeded towards the peak, it was colder, the wind was chilly, we had reached! Further ahead lay the trail that leads to the Western side of Dzükoü valley, Mt. Saramati, and the Eastern Himalayas which can be seen from the peak. We ate our lunch and as we were packing up, I thought I saw a small white flake on my mittens. I turned my head up towards the sky and felt cold flakes landing on my face, it was snow. We were all so happy and contented with the whole Japfü experience.
The way back down wasn’t as difficult as the way up although my legs were aching from the 4-hour walk, I somehow managed to carry myself back down. The whole area was bright and covered in snow. We played in the snow, made tiny snowmen here and there, tried making snow angels, slid on the snow, making everything we see in movies come true.
By the time we reached the snow point, my pants were soaking wet from all that sliding and playing. It got darker and denser as we reached the forest, our bodies got heavier, legs grew weaker but the thought of home and a warm cooked meal kept us going till we crossed the potato farm, the bridge, the stream, and towards the parking lot. We headed back to Kigwema, and had warm tea prepared by our friend’s aunt with some biscuits as we narrated our whole experience to them, we then proceeded towards Kohima, back to our nests.
Till today, when I look up towards the southern hills of Kohima, I am only reminded of the great adventure I had. Maybe on another snowy day, I’ll trek the mystic mountain Japfü again!