Letter to the Editor
Vancouver, British Columbia
As the author of the "Sikkim 2000: The Ascent to Yamthung and the Search for Rhododendron wightii " in the summer 2000 Journal, I wish to offer apologies and correct Sikkim place name spellings both in the text and on the map that fronted the article. As well, I wish to thank several tour members and Keshab Pradhan who pointed out the errors-of-my-ways. Part of the confusion that arises in Sikkim place names is phonetic. The pronunciation of vowels in English is quite different, as is syllable emphasis from the various languages and pronunciations one hears spoken in Sikkim (I'm slightly deaf). I also have five maps of Sikkim and each has a different take on the name spelling. Enough excuses.
Sonja Nelson nicely edited out a text reference to the snow covered Mt. Lamo Amdang that loomed high over the Lachen apple orchard, just breaking into bloom (Coxe's orange pippins?) outside our guest house window our first morning there. However, on the front-piece map that gives the best picture and impression of what Sikkim really looks and feels like, the 5,862-meter-high mountain is written "Lama Amdang" not "Lamo Amdang." Other mountains on the map have approved English phonetic spellings, although you will find Sikkim's sacred mountain, the one pictured centre back in Paul Anderson's great photo crowning the map, with the spelling "Kangchendzonga"! While we are still way up there, it's "Thangu" not "Zanda" as map and text have it. Paul tells me at Thangu, we were at 11,500 feet elevation. The villagers were planting potatoes in the patchwork of fields laid out below the fields where he tells me he has a shot of an angry yak pulling a wooden furrow plow. Down from Lachen and Lachung at the crotch in the 'Y' is Chunthang on the map; this transfer point where we lunched with the Danish Group before we exchanged lodges is "Tsungthang" or "Chungthang" (I was closest to the latter). It is Lake "Tsomgu" not "Tsomgo" on the map and in the text where we came down to Gangtok out of the clouds. Some say we went up to Yamthung from Yakshay lodge, while others say we stayed at Yaksum lodge and went up to Yumsangdong to find Rhododendron wightii . Regardless, it will be a long remembered great adventure.
Next year at Eugene we'd like to share Sikkim 2000 with you. We promise to cut our slides to two 80-slide trays if we're welcome.
I owe an apology to President Keshab Pradhan of the J. D. Hooker Chapter, our host for Sikkim 2000, for my gross error in attributing him to having received the Society's Gold Medal. I humbly ask his forgiveness for this embarrassment. (I also apologize to Hans Hachmann for the misspelling of his name.)
Sonam Lachungpa was given the Gold at the ARS 50th Annual Convention in Portland. Britt Smith got his Gold earlier, and while I was unable to attend at Burlington (one of only four ARS Annual Conventions I've missed since 1961), I was awarded Gold there but knew about it the night before I left for Sikkim. It was wishful thinking on my part that there would be four ARS Gold medalists present to cut the cake under the great parachute tent up at the Gangtok Rhododendron Test Garden that is pictured intact in the article. Paul Anderson caught the writer, Keshab, and Britt in the act of cake cutting, and if you look carefully you will see bananas and Coxe's orange pippins on the table in the foreground. I hope soon to find out who it is that oversaw the cake cutting and in Paul's picture watches from behind the large bamboo center-pole. Oh, and by the way, Paul lives in Napa with his too large 'Polar Bear', and not in Santa Rosa. That's where Luther Burbank lived. At my age things run together.