The Druk Path - Day 2

Trip Start Oct 27, 2008
Trip End Nov 21, 2008

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The sun rises early in the mountains.  And man, is it COLD!!  I had dreaded even more the midnight dash to the "bathroom", which essentially was a canvas pop-tent covering a small hole, less than a foot deep, dug in the ground.  The only civlized touch was a crushed roll of toilet tissue hung from the canvas wall of the enclosure.  In any case, I paid my visit at about 11pm (having slept soundly for about 3 hours before getting up with the urge!)

I was successful in navigating my way to the 'bathroom', about 50 yards from where we pitched tent, but in my rush to get back to the tent, ran headlong into a stand of shrubs.  Somehow my glasses were thrown clear of my face, leaving me scrounging around in the night looking for my glasses.  The head torch was somewhat useful, and eventually I managed to recover them without stepping on them!  It was a cold, mad dash back to the relative warmth of the tent straight away.  Sadly, I was WIDE awake by this time and another hour before I managed to drift off again until......  The dam herd of Yaks that were grazing at the base of the hill when we arrived had decided to come up to our campsite around 1am.  These buggers are BIG and they each have a brass cowbell around their neck which gives off an amazing clang with every step.  Literally the herd passed within a foot of our tent on either side, and for the next hour, there was no sleep to be had!

Finally by 2am, I had had enough and dug for the earplugs that I had packed away.  This afforded the only remaining opportunity for shut-eye this night, and 7am seemed to arrive in no time.

Cold as it was, the sunrise over the mountains was amazingly beautiful.  The sun's rays illuminated the frost that had formed on the grass and trees, and whle chilly, it was a beautiful sight seen by so few.

Two bowls of hot water arrived at our tent for wash-up, along with a tray of hot coffee.  Nice touch!!  Even the Nescafe instant was tasting gourmet by this point in the trip, and this was truly welcomed.

With no showers on offer, I made dure with the bowl of warm wather and a pile of wipes that I had smartly packed away into every pocket of my luggage.  Feeling somewhat clean, and following an amazing breakfast of toast, omelette, sausage and juice, we were off again, leaving our support crew to break camp.

Today we would hike for just over 6 hours, aiming to reach Phajoding Goemba at 3750m (though climbing as high as 4150m).  This was a particularly beautiful strecth of the trail, with severe inclines and declines, narrow passages through mountain peaks and awesome lookout points over the various valleys, rivers and forests.  I have well over 100 photos from this stretch alone, including haunting images of occupied and abandoned forts, monasteries and other sites - and many prayer flags.

Passing isolated Yak Herder outposts, we made for the our campsite which sat in a valley beside a cool freshwater lake.  Here we toook rest though it was only 2pm.  We had gone as far as the horsemen felt the horses could go, considering the steep trals we had covered.

Night fell even sooner in this remote valley, and darkness crept upon us closer to 5:30.  This was just as well, given that we were all exhausted and not particularly interested in anything except sitting by a roaring campfire.  Although marshmallows would have been a nice touch (nobody from Bhutan seems to know what a marshmallow is), our guide did break out a bottle og Bhutanese Highland Whisky - a blend of local whisky and Scotch - that went down all too well!!

Another delicious dnner, and an hour by the fire was all that was needed to send us to bed for the night.  The horsemen  I noticed slept under the open sky, quite a feat considering the temperature overnight dipped to -10C at least!

I did take note before crashing out, that there were NO Yak herds anywhere nearby, so fingers crossed for a sound sleep!
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