First off, let me say that we love our guides, Bill and Tsering. They are walking, talking Wikipedia pages, their knowledge of Bhutan encyclopedic. They answer questions that range from “what is the meaning of the eyes protruding out of that demon’s head” to “what type of rhododendron is that” to “why does that phallus have teeth?”
That said, wilderness quides they are not.
Yesterday, after a bone-jarring, Bonine-not-optional, 5 hour drive on a treacherous road (alas, no pics of the sheer thousand foot drops as I was too busy trying to maintain Buddhist non-attachment to my continuing existence) the bus stopped and we emerged onto a yak-lined road with this valley beckoning…
We began our descent through the scrubby field, following what we were told was an “ancient” path into a dwarf bamboo choked thicket, and crossed and re- crossed the same small creek until Tsering was lost from view.
Seeking peace of mind, I recalled the countless episodes of “Man vs Wild” that I watched with Quinn over the years. Bear Grylls, the star of the show, is a man capable of surviving many days in the wild with nothing more than a paper clip and a parking ticket . I was carrying a lot more that, all of it useless in the event of unscheduled camping with Yaks. Did I learn nothing from those countless hours of viewing!? Why hadn’t I brought a multi tool or a space blanket instead of lip balm and Pepto Bismol?
And then, just as panic took hold, Tsering returned and said he now knew where to go. By the time we staggered into our hotel, I had decided that, Mr Grylls notwithstanding, there really are only two survival essentials: