Our bed proved to be a little hard, and sleep for me was difficult as I needed to shift to give rest to one hip or the other. It was a quiet night, and we managed to get a good rest! Good thing as we had a 18-20 km hike today. The breakfast started a little later than planned as the family went to the monastery for a blessing and morning prayers at 4:30 am. I must say I wouldn’t want to be rushing back home (most likely on foot!) and making breakfast for a crew after getting my family ready for early morning prayers!
After breakfast we left this Homestay and drove to the start point of our hike for the day. It’s part of the Bumthang cultural hike and this went up through our current valley and through Phephe Pass at an altitude of over 11,000 ft. The weather was perfect as we started out on our hike. We were joined by another helper, Pema, who had the heavy responsibility of carrying the lunch! I think he also was along in the event Dan or I collapsed and they needed to carry us down! One thing we’ve discovered here is that there is no air ambulance, no rescue team, just the people you travel with! It was reassuring to know that farmers were bringing horses through the pass! Any port in a storm!
Anyway, we started up along a rough road (lets just say our Toyota 4 wheeler wouldn’t go up it! We then headed into some woods, across a stream and into a lovely meadow. Once through the meadow we started to climb through a forest of pine and bamboo! The path was narrower and up up up it went. We both were feeling the altitude, and took many breaks. I must say we have the most patient guide ever! What kept me going was the incredible beauty of the area: the views, the moss covered rocks, the sparkling streams, the Spanish moss hanging from the pines, the fascinating bamboo getting taller as we climbed, the massive rhododendrons …so much beauty!
I soon became acclimatized – at least I adjusted my pace to try to keep my breathing and heart rate regulated. Dan on and other hand faced his Rose and Thorn in the same climb! (Amanda and Pete will get the significance of this!)
I must say, I was expecting a very steep switchback climb as we approached the pass. We had this when we visited NamoBuddha in Nepal. But alas, our path was just steep but doable, and we made it to the pass! (This part took about 5 hours, but of course that included a stop for lunch!).
Our guide asked us if we would like to stop for tea at the pass, but Dan was eager to start heading back down to the next valley. We made that downhill descent in around 2 hours!
We crisscrossed meadows and forests, and again beautiful scenery. This valley would be our home for the next couple of nights, and provided a splendid locale. We even passed the horse farm that we will be visiting tomorrow – yes, Dan and I will be off horseback riding for the day!
When we passed the horse farm, our car and driver was waiting for us. In we piled and off to our home stay for the next two nights! What a lovely spot! We even have our own ensuite! What a luxury compared to our last homestay!
It is quite a large homestay and owned by our tour company “Windhorse”. There were a number of other guests here from a variety of tour companies, and at dinner we had about 20 people eating together including guides and drivers. Quite a wonderful site and sound hearing Bhutanese, German, French and English all talking about the wonders of their day.
Well it’s been a long one, and time for bed!