Bhutan offers so much for the traveler looking for a completely different experience. The main reason that we chose Bhutan was it’s combination of culture and trekking-we always choose a destination that will challenge us physically. OOOHHHHHHH—and challenge us it did! Trekkking the Himalayan mountains in Bhutan is not for the average day-hiker. We knew it would be tough-we have hiked the 200-mile Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (for my 40th), and knew that high altitude treks are demanding, but this particular 8-day trek ’bout kicked my ass!
Our travel partner, David Frieder from Denver (who was a total stranger prior to this trip), finally made it to Bhutan after several failed flight-attempts. We immediately hit it off and knew that he would be a great traveling team mate.
After 5 days of cultural touring and tough day-hikes, we set off on our journey. I finally got over the worst of my giardia parasite with the help of 2 grams of Tinidazole. (Giardia is nasty–one “eggy” burp can clear a room!!)
We were introducced to our staff-there was Minjur “cook”, Tenzin “lunchboy”, Gyaltshen “cowboy” and of course Jambay, our guide. We had 7 ponies and pack-mules to carry our baggage, the cook-tent, our tents, and all food and supplies. The first day was fairly easy, 17 km, winding through small villages and rural farm houses. It seemed absurd that a house, miles from anywhere, with no running water or automobiles, would have a satellite dish on the side of the house. That was a common sight, though, and it cracked us up every time!
We made camp just as it began to rain, which it did most evenings.
Here, we met a dog that HK and I called Karma, after a Great Pyrenees we rescued years ago. Karma followed us for 2 days, but never let me get close enough to pet her. Still, somehow knowing that she was there was comforting to me, and she slept outside our tent as though “guarding” us from stray yaks!
Our cook for the trek had worked in a restaurant for 20 years, and was an excellent chef. We never had the same meal 2 days in a row, and he could do amazing things with fiddle-head ferns!
On the 2nd day, following a breakfast of french toast, coffee, juice and eggs (!), we began a much harder day of non-stop rock-hopping and stair-stepping for an ascent of 770 meters. We followed thick forest and were always in earshot of the fast-flowing Paro River. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, the snow-capped summit of Mt. Chomolhari loomed in front of us. It was an amaxing sight, and made the tough hike worth it.
Exhaused after a tough day, I was in bed by 8, as soon as dinner was over.
On the forth day, we finally made it to base camp, Jangothang, a truly spectacular site surrounded by massive himalayan peaks, seemingly right at the foot of Bhutan’s 2nd highest mountain, Chomolhari.
Here we spent 2 nights, taking a tough day-hike to 15,000 feet, to help us acclimatize before making the 16,000 foot pass. (This is where we met Bolt, the dog). In honor of my birthday, Cook baked me an apple pie in a wood stove. He wanted to bake a cake, but the altitude wouldn’t allow it to rise. Unfortunately, the after-effects of Giardia was taking it’s toll, so I didn’t get to imbibe in my little stash of brandy that I had brought to celebrate.
For those of you who are wondering, yes, Willy and the Boys made the trip and Loved it!
Coming soon, making it over 2 passes, and more!