Into the Land of the Thunder Dragon
In 2014 I returned to the Himalaya, this time to the magical Kingdom of Bhutan.
Apart from just exploring this wonderful country, the purpose of the trip was to trek to the Jomolhari Base Camp, elevation approximately 4100 metres (although not the highest point of the trip.
A couple of extracts from the story follow:
Saturday 11th October
Today was a rest day at Jomolhari.
After a slow start to the day, I then went exploring in the
nearby hills. I walked up to the prayer flags above the camp, and then around to see the very spectacular Jichu Drake. From above the camp there were magnificent views of both Jomolhari and the lovely Jichu Drake. After a lovely morning walk I was back in camp around midday.
We had a fairly lazy afternoon. Janet and I walked around to see Jichu Drake with Tandin. We were privileged to also see inside a local house, the home of the local chief. An excellent insight to an aspect of the local culture. I enjoyed this little side trip.
Sunday 12th October
Another early start – at 7:45 am out of camp, across the river and up the hill on other side then onto base of Tshophu glacial valley. The Tshophu valley is an incredibly spectacular and beautiful place. It is stark, cold and treeless, with the flat areas dotted with nomadic yak herder camps, and their yaks.
It was a long slow walk up to the Tshophu Lakes, getting there around 10:30 am. Then an even longer, slower and tougher walk upwards and up to the Bang Tue La.
Walking along the Tshophu Valley I spent a lot of time by myself. It was a great time for reflection, and I revelled in the peace, quiet and aloneness. I started to think of single words to describe the experience, and some which came to mind were:
I got to the top of the La at around 1:30 pm. At around 4900 metres Bang Tue La was the highest point of the trek. It was chilly on top, with an icy wind coming from the other side of the pass from the south-west. The view from the top was spectacular, both back down into the Tshophu Valley and across the pass into the Soi Yaksa valley.
After about 20 minutes at the pass (the others had been there longer as I was the last to get there), we headed down into the Soi Yaksa for lunch a short time later. The lunch spot must be one of the most spectacularly beautiful places in the world. Sitting at around 4600 metres with high Himalayas in the background, rugged cliffs to our left and the glacial Soi Yaksa valley below us to the right, I felt relaxed and at peace with nature.