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The rains had been protracted to a later date than usual. On the 2nd November, 1861, after a week of fair weather, on the morning of one of those balmy days for which, at this season of the year, Darjeeling is so famous, our party, consisting of Dr. B. Simpson, Bengal Army, Captain E. Macpherson, 93rd Highlanders, VV. Kemble, Bengal Civil Service, and myself, left “The Bright Spot” with the view, if practicable, of reaching and ascending any one of the perpetually snow-cla\d spurs of the great Kanchunjingah group of mountains, and examining the glaciers of this hitherto unexplored portion of the great Himalaya range. From Dr. Hooker’s published map of Sikkim we were led to hope our object would have been attained by following the course of the Ratong river to its source. Accordingly we decided upon following this route, being strengthened in our resolution, by knowing that Captain W. S. Sherwill, in 1852, had failed in. reaching The Big Mountain by continuing along the crest of the Singaleelah Range, his further progress having been stopped by a deep and precipitous valley.
Leaving Darjeeling at 7 .415 A.'M. on our hill ponies, we passed the Little Rungeet at 10 A. M. over a good bridge made of bamboos lashed together with slips of cane, forming an arch supporting a pendent; roadway which was constructed in one night by Murray’s sappers for the late Lady Canning. Reached the frontier outpost of Goke, at 10.30 A. M. It is situated on the summit of a narrow range which separates the Little Rungeet from the Rumman, which river here‘ forms the boundary between British and Independent Sikkim.
We parted with our ponies at Goke and proceeding on foot in an easterly direction, reached the Rumman at noon, which river we crossed, not very far from its junction with the Great Rungeet, by a well constructed bridge of bamboos. The luxuriance of the vegetation along the northern slopes of the Goke spur is beyond all description beautiful. Near Goke are groups of stately saul trees, elegantly covered with clusters of ferns—one kind in particular encircles the saul, forming coronet-like bunches one above the other, the broad leaves of the fern resembling the feathers of a shuttlecock. On one tree we counted eleven of these coronets rising one above another. Towards the Rumman, at a lo\ver elevation, we passed through a grove of gigantic bamboos about a mile in extent. These bamboos are commonly used by the hill people for carrying water. Mica schist exists in considerable quantity along the spur, and the soil is rich and deep. Proceeding onwards and taking a northerly direction, we doubled round the Chakoong hill, and reached the Ruttoo at 3 P. M. which we mistook for the Rishee. Crossing the Buttoo by a couple of stout saplings thrown across this wild and very pretty torrent, we commenced the ascent of the Rishee spur of the Hee ‘mountain. Here one of our party became quite knocked up by the long and fatiguing walk, but after despatching the best part of a tin of marmalade, was sufiiciently recovered to proceed and mount the remainder of the steep acclivity and descend the other side as far as the Rishee cultivation, where we arrived at 6 P. M. after a harassing march of twenty-seven miles, and encamped at an elevation of about 1000 feet above the bed of the river. We found all our things, which had been sent on ahead two days previously, were up and tent pitched. The road which was marked out last year by the sappers, during the temporary occupation of this part Of Sikkim, was in pret. ty good order. It is called by the natives the lower and level road, to distinguish it from that via Siriong and upper Rishee, which has many long ascents and descents.
Early next morning the villagers brought us supplies and‘ oranges from Mixidong, for which we paid. After an early breakfast, left Rishee at 8 A. M. and descended to the Rishee river, which was cross
ed by a bridge made of saplings; hence we ascended the Rinchingpoong hill, the lower part of which is rocky and steep, but the upper portion is less so, and the road a made one and good. Passed a good deal of millet cultivation, and stopped with a view to procure some of the well known beverage made from the millet seed, called “ Murwa,” but the villagers all ran away. We reached Rinchingpoong about 12.45 P. M. and pitched our tent immediately above the site of the field entrenchment occupied last year by Dr. Campbell and Captain Murray’s party of sappers. A few trenches, broken planks, pieces of posts strewed about, and the skull of a Bhootia pierced by a bullet, alone mark the spot, where our countrymen, the year previous, withstood the treacherous attack of twenty times their own number. If this portion of Sikkim should. ever become British territory, this bill is deserving of particular attention, as possessing great capabilities for the formation of a. winter sanitarium. The southern extremity of the hill is about 7000 feet, but the northern, where the village site exists, is not more than 5,600 feet, and the temperature is much milder than that of Darjeeling. The soil is deep and rich, mica schist entering largely into the composition of the hill. It has several good perennial streams, a large pool of water, and broad terraces on all sides. Carriage roads might easily be constructed. The distance from Darjeeling by the lower road is about thirty-five miles. \Vheat, millet, rice, buck wheat, &c., are culivated. Crabb apples, raspberries and cherry trees were observed, the latter in full blossom, whilst most of the other trees were shedding their leaves. The daphne or paper-tree also grows here, likewise oak, magnolia, birch, chesnut, walnut and many other forest trees.
There is a Goompa at this place well worth seeing, the Llama belonging to which died nine. months ago.
The Llama’s widow and relatives brought us a present of four bamboo tubes of hot “ Murwa,” and later in the evening eggs, rice, milk and fowls; and in the morning more rice for sale, also eggs, milk and millet seed. Our encampment, which was in the midst of very high Wormwood, swarmed with hairy» caterpillars, which crawled over our beds and up the sides of the tent, and were very troublesome.
The morning was very fine, and having breakfasted early, we were ready for a start, but delayed on account of thelcoolies who had norice till this morning’s supply arrived.
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