Today was incredible! Although our main purpose in the Himalayas was actually business around harvesting the kutki, Tashi had also worked out this full day of absolute pleasure in God’s country for all of us. After driving back to the home we’d been at the day before and having breakfast, we began a trek around 11am into the mountain behind the village. We were accompanied by two younger men from the area to help guide our way.
We brought lunch with us and flashlights as it was possible we might be completing our trek in the dark, but purposefully not enough water since there were places with natural springs where it actually was super clean enough water to drink, even in India. Everyone had layers since we were starting in warm sunshine but were about to climb about 3,000 feet. We were starting around 8,000 feet already, so in a few hours we would be eating lunch 11,000 feet above sea level and the tree line!
The trek was amazing. Especially after four days of travel, sitting for such extended periods of time and on such bumpy roads, hiking for eight hours felt exhilarating and like a tremendous relief. It took us about four hours to ascend before stopping for lunch near the top, though we also stopped for a bit at an incredible super old small temple along the way. It had an archway with a huge bell and many smaller bells and interesting metal tridents and other artifacts inside. It was also strewn with yellow ribbon which in general in India is very Vaishnavi (meaning associated with Vishnu) but the Himalayas are very Shaivite, so there yellow tends to refer to Shiva as Guru since the color of the Guru is yellow, as well as Wisdom since the color of Wisdom is yellow/gold. It refers to much more than that as well but you’d have to ask Tashi for a more in-depth explanation!
While meditating and waiting for the others inside the temple, my hands felt supercharged with energy that lasted quite a bit into our hike. Who knows how long that ancient temple has been there but the energy in the space is still quite activated and strong.
We continued on passing various springs we could drink from, some that were known to be naga springs, the dwellings of celestial beings that have taken form in some in the Himalayas. They are protected by actual cobras that live behind and protect the springs. I have always been in love with and fascinated by snakes so this was of particular interest to me!
We stopped for lunch at the apex of our climb above the tree line, an incredible sight to behold. Just beyond where we happened upon two herdsmen and their flock of 150 or so sheep. We had just missed the birth of a baby, arriving while the mother’s placenta was still attached. The herdsmen ended up needing to carry the baby along with the herd while the mother ran attentively by his side, trying to clean her little one up all the while. These photos don’t do the expansive peace and magic of this gorgeous place any justice!
After a lengthy descent back home, we finally arrived about an hour or so after needing to walk with our flashlights in the complete dark. Only once on our way back did I wonder if our guides actually remembered the way as they were talking practically non-stop to one another, at times seemingly discussing the route. Thankfully, Tashi was able to request a few periods of complete quiet. “Shanti, shanti” he’d say. Their youthful energy and ongoing smiles were certainly appreciated but not as much as the powerful quiet times we got to spend with just ourselves, our breath and thoughts on the mountain. Thankfully, the thoughts were few and far between with a wonderful peace inside my mind emanating instead.
After another delicious and filling dinner, we got to sleep in the forestry house just a few minutes from the villager’s home and start/end of our trek. Extra blankets were needed and welcomed this far up. And although quite cold and very bundled up, I still enjoyed one of my more amazing yoga practices early that morning watching the sun slowly dawning on the snow-covered mountain tops in the distance.
Was this really only day three or four in India? Already I was losing track of time and had no idea what day it even was. One of my favorite aspects of travel, that the day rarely ever matters. Up until now it has been the few times in my life when I can really and truly be present, allowing each minute, hour and day to unfold, not having so many clients, classes and responsibilities crammed into each moment. What a divine and appreciated blessing. May I be able to continue that way of BE-ing on in my life no matter when and where it takes me!!