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- Himalayan Journals, V1 - 20/63 -

diameter. Bamboo abounds everywhere: its dense tufts of culms, 100 feet and upwards high, are as thick as a man's thigh at the base. Twenty or thirty, species of ferns (including a tree-fern) were luxuriant and handsome. Foliaceous lichens and a few mosses appeared at 2000 feet. Such is the vegetation of the roads through the tropical forests of the Outer-Himalaya.

At about 4000 feet the road crossed a saddle, and ran along the narrow crest of a hill, the top of that facing the plains of India, and over which is the way to the interior ranges, amongst which Dorjiling is placed, still twenty-five miles off. A little below this a great change had taken place in the vegetation, marked, first, by the appearance of a very English-looking bramble, which, however, by way of proving its foreign origin, bore a very good yellow fruit, called here the "yellow raspberry." Scattered oaks, of a noble species, with large lamellated cups and magnificent foliage, succeeded; and along the ridge of the mountain to Kursiong (a dawk bungalow at about 4800 feet), the change in the flora was complete.

The spring of this region and elevation most vividly recalled that of England. The oak flowering, the birch bursting into leaf, the violet, _Chrysosplenium, Stellaria_ and _Arum, Vaccinium,_ wild strawberry, maple, geranium, bramble. A colder wind blew here: mosses and lichens carpeted the banks and roadsides: the birds and insects were very different from those below; and everything proclaimed the marked change in elevation, and not only in this, but in season, for I had left the winter of the tropics and here encountered the spring of the temperate zone.

The flowers I have mentioned are so notoriously the harbingers of a European spring that their presence carries one home at once; but, as species, they differ from their European prototypes, and are accompanied at this elevation (and for 2000 feet higher up) with tree-fern, Pothos, bananas, palms, figs, pepper, numbers of epiphytal Orchids, and similar genuine tropical genera. The uniform temperature and humidity of the region here favour the extension of tropical plants into a temperate region; exactly as the same conditions cause similar forms to reach higher latitudes in the southern hemisphere (as in New Zealand, Tasmania, South Chili, etc.) than they do in the northern.

Along this ridge I met with the first tree-fern. This species seldom reaches the height of forty feet; the black trunk is but three or four in girth, and the feathery crown is ragged in comparison with the species of many other countries: it is the _Alsophila gigantea,_ and ascends nearly to 7000 feet elevation.

Kursiong bungalow, where I stopped for a few hours, is superbly placed, on a narrow mountain ridge. The west window looks down the valley of the Balasun river, the east into that of the Mahanuddee: both of these rise from the outer range, and flow in broad, deep, and steep valleys (about 4000 feet deep) which give them their respective names; and are richly wooded from the Terai to their tops. Till reaching this spur, I had wound upwards along the western slope of the Mahanuddee valley. The ascent from the spur at Kursiong, to the top of the mountain (on the northern face of which Dorjiling is situated), is along the eastern slope of the Balasun.

From Kursiong a very steep zigzag leads up the mountain, through a magnificent forest of cbesnut, walnut, oaks, and laurels. It is difficult to conceive a grander mass of vegetation: the straight shafts of the timber-trees shooting aloft, some naked and clean, with grey, pale, or brown bark; others literally clothed for yards with a continuous garment of epiphytes, one mass of blossoms, especially the white Orchids _Caelogynes,_ which bloom in a profuse manner, whitening their trunks like snow. More bulky trunks were masses of interlacing climbers, _Araliaceae, Leguminosae, Vines,_ and _Menispermeae,_ Hydrangea, and Peppers, enclosing a hollow, once filled by the now strangled supporting tree, which had long ago decayed away. From the sides and summit of these, supple branches hung forth, either leafy or naked; the latter resembling cables flung from one tree to another, swinging in the breeze, their rocking motion increased by the weight of great bunches of ferns or Orchids, which were perched aloft in the loops. Perpetual moisture nourishes this dripping forest: and pendulous mosses and lichens are met with in profusion.

Two thousand feet higher up, near Mahaldiram (whence the last view of the plains is gained), European plants appear,--Berberry, _Paris,_ etc.; but here, night gathered round, and I had still ten miles to go to the nearest bungalow, that of Pacheem. The road still led along the eastern slope of the Balasun valley, which was exceedingly steep, and so cut up by ravines, that it winds in and out of gulleys almost narrow enough to be jumped across.

It was very late before I arrived at Pacheem bungalow, the most sinister-looking rest-house I ever saw, stuck on a little cleared spur of the mountain, surrounded by dark forests, overhanging a profound valley, and enveloped in mists and rain, and hideous in architecture, being a miserable attempt to unite the Swiss cottage with the suburban gothic; it combined a maximum of discomfort with a minimum of good looks or good cheer. I was some time in finding the dirty housekeeper, in an outhouse hard by, and then in waking him. As he led me up the crazy verandah, and into a broad ghostly room, without glass in the windows, or fire, or any one comfort, my mind recurred to the stories told of the horrors of the Hartz forest, and of the benighted traveller's situation therein. Cold sluggish beetles hung to the damp walls,--and these I immediately secured. After due exertions and perseverance with the damp wood, a fire smoked lustily, and, by cajoling the gnome of a housekeeper, I procured the usual roast fowl and potatos, with the accustomed sauce of a strong smoky and singed flavour.* [Since writing the above a comfortable house has been erected at Senadah, the name now given to what was called Pacheem Bungalow.]

Pacheem stands at an elevation of nearly 7300 feet, and as I walked out on the following morning I met with English looking plants in abundance, but was too early in the season to get aught but the foliage of most. _Chryosplenium,_ violet, _Lobelia,_ a small geranium, strawberry, five or six kinds of bramble, _Arum, Paris, Convallaria, Stellaria, Rubia, Vaccinium,_ and various _Gnaphalia._ Of small bushes, cornels, honeysuckles, and the ivy tribe predominated, with _Symplocos_ and _Skimmia, Eurya,_ bushy brambles, having simple or compound green or beautifully silky foliage; _Hypericum,_ Berberry, Hydrangea, Wormwood, _Adamia cyanea, Viburnum,_ Elder, dwarf bamboo, etc.

The climbing plants were still _Panax_ or _Aralia, Kadsura, Saurauja, Hydrangea,_ Vines, _Smilax, Ampelopsis, Polygona,_ and, most beautiful of all, _Stauntonia,_ with pendulous racemes of lilac blossoms. Epiphytes were rarer, still I found white and purple _Caeloynes,_ and other Orchids, and a most noble white Rhododendron, whose truly enormous and delicious lemon-scented blossoms strewed the ground. The trees were one half oaks, one quarter Magnolias, and nearly another quarter laurels, amongst which grew Himalayan kinds of birch, alder, maple, holly, bird-cherry, common cherry, and apple. The absence of _Leguminosae was most remarkable, and the most prominent botanical feature in the vegetation of this region: it is too high for the tropical tribes of the warmer elevations, too low for the Alpines, and probably too moist for those of temperate regions; cool, equable, humid climates being generally unfavourable to that order. Clematis was rare, and other _Ranunculaceae_ still more so. _Cruciferae_ were absent, and, what was still more remarkable, I found very few native species of grasses. Both _Poa annua_ and white Dutch clover flourished where accidentally disseminated, but only in artificially cleared spots. Of ferns I collected about sixty species, chiefly of temperate genera. The supremacy of this temperate region consists in the infinite number of forest trees, in the absence (in the usual proportion, at any rate) of such common orders as _Compositae, Leguminosae, Cruciferae,_ and _Ranunculaceae,_ and of Grasses amongst Monocotyledons, and in the predominance of the rarer and more local families, as those of Rhododendron, Camellia, Magnolia, Ivy, Cornel, Honeysuckle, Hydrangea, Begonia, and Epiphytic orchids.

From Pacheem, the road runs in a northerly direction to Dorjiling, still along the Balasun valley, till the saddle of the great mountain Sinchul is crossed. This is narrow, stretching east and west, and from it a spur projects northwards for five or six miles, amongst the many mountains still intervening between it and the snows. This saddle (alt. 7400 feet) crossed, one is fairly amongst the mountains: the plains behind are cut off by it; and in front, the snows may be seen when the weather is propitious. The valleys on this side of the mountain run northwards, and discharge their streams into great rivers, which, coming from the snow, wind amongst the hills, and debouche into the Teesta, to the east, where it divides Sikkim from Bhotan.

Dorjiling station occupies a narrow ridge, which divides into two spurs, descending steeply to the bed of the Great Rungeet river, up whose course the eye is carried to the base of the great snowy mountains. The ridge itself is very narrow at the top, along which most of the houses are perched, while others occupy positions on its flanks, where narrow locations on the east, and broader ones on the west, are cleared from wood. The valleys on either side are at least 6000 feet deep, forest-clad to the bottom, with very few and small level spots, and no absolute precipice; from their flanks project innumerable little spurs, occupied by native clearings.

My route lay along the east flank, overhanging the valley of the Rungmo river. Looking east, the amphitheatre of hills from the ridge I had crossed was very fine; enclosing an area some four miles across and 4000 feet deep, clothed throughout with an impenetrable, dark forest: there was not one clear patch except near the very bottom, where were some scattered hamlets of two or three huts each. The rock is everywhere near the surface, and the road has been formed by blasting at very many places. A wooded slope descends suddenly from the edge of the road, while, on the other hand, a bank rises abruptly to the top of the ridge, alternately mossy, rocky, and clayey, and presenting a good geological section, all the way along, of the nucleus of Dorjiling spur, exposing broken masses of gneiss. As I descended, I came upon the upper limit of the chesnut, a tree second in abundance to the oak; gigantic, tall, and straight in the trunk.

I arrived at Dorjiling on the 16th of April; a showery, cold month at this elevation. I was so fortunate as to find Mr. Charles Barnes (brother of my friend at Colgong), the sole tenant of a long, cottage-like building, divided off into pairs of apartments, which are hired by visitors. It is usual for Europeans to bring a full establishment of servants (with bedding, etc.) to such stations, but I had not done so, having been told that there was a furnished hotel in Dorjiling; and I was, therefore, not a little indebted to Mr. Barnes for his kind invitation to join his mess. As he was an active mountaineer, we enjoyed many excursions together, in the two months and a half during which we were companions.

Dr. Campbell procured me several active native (Lepcha) lads as collectors, at wages varying from eight to twenty shillings a month; these either accompanied me on my excursions, or went by themselves into the jungles to collect plants, which I occupied myself in

Himalayan Journals, V1 - 20/63

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