Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sakteng Hike - a photo essay

7am bright eyed and bushy tailed - let the adventure begin!

Out of Phongmey, one short cut down a cliff face, over a suspension bridge and the trail begins.

One of many wall chortens -this one just before Joenkharteng

Where we thought we would stop overnight but decided to press on after arriving at 12.30pm and at the  suggestion of our Tibetan guide: Lobzang.

All along the way beautiful Brokpa people who do this not once, but with regularity in order to eat to survive. They and their horse / oxen / cow trains go up and down continually.

The trail was muddy, steep, rocky, treacherous and a quagmire by turns but we slogged on.

4 hours later and I was incapable of another step and ever resourceful Lobzang negotiated for us to stay in this family home at Thrakthrik where we were treated with hospitality and kindness.

One of the many children at the house, half way up a tree at 6.30am and cheeky as a monkey with it.

As soon as the steep uphill climb commenced the next morning Lobzang took my pack in addition to his own and I still found the going tough.

The greatest gift of the monsoon- the spectacular waterfalls viewed from wooden plank bridges traversing the river.

Hard to keep focusing on where to put one's feet even though it is essential when the views are so breath taking.

That spellbinding moment when the tunnel vision of the trail opens up to high altitude meadows and the first glimpse of Sakteng.

tired but not defeated.

The stats!

Campsite kitchen and the rain started less than 30 mins after we got there. Sometimes the gods are smiling on us!

After 12 hours of sleep we were at school for the early morning study session and with exams around the corner everyone was focused on the task.

Back at school when lessons had begun.

one of the cooks at the school with his daughter.

Heading up even higher to visit a monastery the next morning- takes commitment to lug all that traditional attire up to that altitude just to be appropriately dressed for the religious experience- well done Lobzang.

 Maybe not "stairway to heaven" but it just might be "gateway to paradise".

Standing in front of the doorway to the very Lakhang he remembers being carried to on his mother's back, as a 6 year old, having been born in this valley to Tibetan refugees.

High altitude pastures and horses in their element. 

Let the beautiful faces of the Brokpa people speak for themselves!

The charm of Sakteng town.

view from the guesthouse.

"beast of burden"

"time to go"

The trail back- those waterfalls revisited!

That first, now last suspension bridge with the raging red mudslide water after an exhausting 26 km bolt down from paradise!

Have a look in full screen, the river looks like lava!

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