I couldn't sleep well the second night, so at 4:45am I got out of bed to check for mountain peaks like a kid checks for presents on Christmas morning. My insomnia was rewarded with views of snow-covered mountains in almost all directions. Perhaps not as much snow as I had hoped, however beggars can't be choosers.
A few massive waterfalls seemed to start at the top of one mountain ridge, while the loud sound of rushing water I could hear was a nearby river we had crossed the previous night.
Once everyone was up and about, we learned our guide had arranged for the hotel owner's son to drive us to Yumthang Valley in a nice, comfortable, private SUV. Riding in an SUV with a considerate driver made up for the death-defying experience the night before. Meanwhile, our original driver was awaiting the spare part needed to fix the jeep we'd take back to Gangtok after lunch.
Passing through a rhododendron forest, we came upon Yumthang Valley, along with a horde of Indian tourists. The altitude was around 3,800 meters, and cloud cover would again mask the peaks of the mountains around us. Our guide said we would've seen new snow falling if we had arrived a day earlier!
The Lonely Planet describes the sight as follows: ” …weather permitting, you should have 360-degree views of an utterly magnificent Alpine scene: glaciers, spiky peaks and a veritable candelabra of jagged mountains rising toward Tibet.”? It is amazing how much time and energy a traveler can invest in an experience so dependent on mother nature.
The ride back to Gangtok was tortuously long. Even though I hadn't been feeling motion sickness on all the jeep rides, I was fed up and feeling worn out by the time we were done. The decision to condense a 4-day trip into 3 days, late starts, and breakdowns left us all feeling as though we spent too much time in the jeep.