First light behind our campsite of night one. After an afternoon of hiking in constant downpour the day before, we were all pleased to wake up to such a view. Photo courtesy of Alex Handel
The time struck 6:00 and an automated, artificial beeping sounded. I pulled my watch from the depths of my sleeping bag, silencing the invader of my peaceful slumber. I lifted my head to find the bleary eyes of my tent-mates, each pair still heavy with sleep. After indistinct grumbling about the earliness of the hour, we each began to ready ourselves for the day, eventually stepping out of the nylon sanctuary of our tent into the misty Bhutan morning. Hours later, after multiple “good mornings” and “how did you sleeps,” tea and then breakfast, I lifted my eyes from the trail to gaze upon the procession of my 23 other classmates. Around me I could hear the faint undulations of conversation as we marched through a forest draped in moss and sanctity.
This river rushed by our second campsite, providing both beauty and solitude after a day on the trail. Photo courtesy of Alex Handel
Our prerogative for the day was simple: to walk from one campsite to another, from one dramatically beautiful view to the next. There was very little for each of us to worry about, our food was generously prepared for us by the UWICE kitchen staff, our gear shuttled in vans rather than on our backs, our tents already erect as we wandered into camp for the night. All that was required of each of us for four blissful days was to put one foot in front of the other without forgetting to look up and experience the beauty of the landscape that passed us by.
The view as we descended into Tang Valley on day three. Photo courtesy of Alex Handel
At the end of each day after standing around the fire with a belly full of dahl, and with the sounds of rushing water in the distance, I climbed again into the warm confines of my tent, slithered into my sleeping bag, and extinguished my headlamp. I drifted to sleep listening to the distant din of giggling from nearby tents and the soft breathing of my friends laying beside me. I smiled to myself, grateful for the simplicity and reverie that each day on the trail brought.
Our constant companion for days 2-4 of the trek. She was known as “Ballou” by some, “Sirius” by others, but she was beloved by all. Photo courtesy of Alex Handel