Chomolhari Trek – Tests and Triumphs

I won’t lie. I’m a pretty huge fan of beds, pillows, warm water, and flushing toilets. But do we really need all that. Well…. plenty of people go without it, and trekking was a good reminder of what we really need. But for now I’m happy to be back writing with a laptop in the land of electricity after a much needed six day walk in the wilderness.

It took three muddy rain filled days to reach Chomolhari base camp, and there were a few setbacks. I managed to twist my ankle on day two, my brother Brian had a terrible cold and Ryan got some sort of awful food poisoning or altitude sickness. So that left us with Injured Liz, Sick Brother Brian, and Ralphing Ryan which equalled a Grumpy Mad Mother who worried for her darling children.

The first three days were wet! Upon the initial downpour, I smugly pulled out my rain jacket. As I walked, I realized that I was increasingly drenched. I then looked at the coat’s fine print which read “wind breaker not waterproof.” Damn.

But we made it, and I would do it again if I had the opportunity. Another spectacular view from Bhutan. Here’s a journal entry of mine when I slipped away at Chomolhari base camp.

September 8, 2009

Don’t you love it when you can’t figure out what day it is. Or when you can’t decide which picture to capture or which view to soak in while you jot notes in your journal. Sure my ankle may be slightly twisted, and I’m getting a little cold. Oh and my legs and shoulders are sore, but these are currently the extents of my problems in Bhutan.

I found the spot. Soaking up infinity starting at a waterfall. The only disruptions are rushing rivers, clinging bells from horses trotting, and a “yaaah” the horseman shouts. “Kuzuzangpola” I turn to say. I am in this gentleman’s territory, but it’s unnecessary. He’ll let me be invisible which is clearly what I want. This is half a mile away from my home for the night. Chumlhari base camp.

My mom’s words cross my mind. “What will you do next year?” “Not sure mom,” I reply. I want to say leave my alone but her response makes me smile.

“Your life is like reading a book. I’m just dying to know what comes next.”

What would I title my 2009 chapter. Journeys? Unconventional? Uncertain? Becoming myself- comfortable with uncertainty?

The sun hits. The yellow purple and green that surround me illuminate like artificially boosting color to a photo. I have arrived. It’s impermanent but it’s here.

Tomorrow will be 09/09/09 Those don’t come so often. In the morning I’ll add an extra four hours of hiking to my day so I can view high altitude lakes with some yaks.

Today I saw a school with beautiful children. 8 of them and one lopen. There were Zdonka and English words on the wall. “A fi gachimo” (what is that) I asked. “Snake” they exclaimed. “Eeeh, a fi gachimo?” I repeat as I point to another word. “SHOES.” We all then point to our toes.

My karma. My destiny. Here I am lucky Liz. Alive. I am thankful for my pen and paper. My ability to record. My legs to take me here. The money that got me here. Who cares about money. “Money can’t buy me love” I hum. But it can get you to Bhutan. It can pay for the permit for a trek up to Bhutan’s second highest peak. It’s a way to help you see the world and certainly provides flexibility. But it may vanish in a moment’s notice.

I am continuously curious. And for that I am thankful. It takes me to far away places. I don’t need to snap a photo and be out, but I am pulled to live. All this unfamiliar turf means growing pains. But I see the humor in my mistakes and fall into hysterics with the way it all works out. I was meant to write, learn, fall down and get back up. I’ve been hiking for three days and the rain has stopped! Why did I have to travel across the world to find beauty already in my backyard. I didn’t. I just wanted to.

Original story by Liz Warren

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