Mundar, Bebe and Lapa trekking down to Yuksom
Well after a none to spectacular nightâ€™s sleep in the pouring rain on the worldâ€™s hardest wooden floor and waking up feeling like an arthritic old couple, we had tea and breakfast and headed off with Thupten to trek back to Tsokha. Luckily for Cindy, instead of going back via Dzongri (which would have required hiking back up the treacherous path we came down on the way to Thangsing), we traversed the mountains through the wet jungle. This ended up being several hours of muddy, jungley up and down walking without tons to see - sort of Muddy Gully Whomping as we wound our way back and forth across the hillsides.
As usual, after not to long, Lapa, Bebe and Mundar came running past us, Lapa (the chef and highest seniority) casually walking in back while Bebe and Mundar ran in rubber boots and dress shoes carrying the wicker baskets filled with the remains of our pantry, pots, pans and god knows what else.
Unlike hikers in the Western world, in Asia, they seem to prefer head straps over hip belts as you can see in the picture of Mundar with his basket and head strap. Talk about a tension headache! Generally speaking, we trek out of camp, they clean and pack everything up, eventually they run ahead of us (really, they run, not walk), they set up camp before we arrive and then jog back 10 minutes or so to meet us with hot lemon tea before we arrive. Sometimes it is good to be pampered, even if you havenâ€™t had a proper shower in a weekâ€¦
Mundar and Basket with Headstrap
We walked all the way back to Phedang where we had lunch again. There was a couple there we figured on their Honeymoon (since the guide and chef had set up a little lunch table for them surrounded with Rhododendron flowers).
Cindy said she would not have been happy to go trekking on her honeymoon and much preferred the wilds of Tuscany over Goeche La. We did hear about a foreign woman getting gored by a Dzo on the trek when she got to close. She was apparently ok but fairly badly injured. Karma wasnâ€™t kidding when he said to give them the right of way!
Lapa the chef
We made it back into Tsokha in the early afternoon and wondered what we were going to do all day. We sat around at Thuptenâ€™s sisters place for a bit but they didnâ€™t really seem interested in us so we went back to the exciting Trekkerâ€™s Hut that we had been in a week back and laid down and listened to audio books until the Ipaq was dangerously close to exhausted with eight percent batty left.
I passed some time trying to take a very cold water bucket/shower in the less than five star outhouse - at least it felt cleansing. We wandered around a bit and then napped a bit, wondering how some of the Bhutanese and Indian people who do Pujas (ceremonial, multi-day prayers at monasteries) manage to sit there for ten or fifteen days doing nothing but chanting and waiting for the next cup of tea (they generally donâ€™t eat much, if anything during a Puja). There was a nice landscape of the green hills of Tsokha and Bakhim with the cloud covered hills of Darjeeling in the background.
Flaming Tomato Salad!
We finally made it to dinner time - this time it was not at Thuptenâ€™s sisterâ€™s house but in the â€śTrekkerâ€™s Hut Dining Roomâ€ť which had a table for eight for just the two of us.
Lapa went all out with dinner including a salad of cucumbers and onions with a cored tomato lit from inside with a candle and a massive, chewy cake inscribed with â€śHappy Treks to you!â€ť on it. Everyone was anxious to get back at this point and we ate what we could of the cake and headed off for one last nightâ€™s sleep in the wild. Par for the course, it rained pretty heavily and we went to sleep pondering what the last descent (which is actually pretty steep) would be like tomorrow. At least it is warm at this altitude! Tomorrow is hot shower and cold beer night in Yuksom and Cindy couldnâ€™t be more excited (me too!)
Yuksom Valley from Bakhim