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Bhutan 1

Bhutan Snowman Trek — Adventure in the High Himalayas

Our third Snow­man Trek post is here! Join Expe­di­tion Leader Deana Zal­ba­do as we con­tin­ue on this buck­et list adven­ture. Pho­tos by Deana Zalbado.

We were pre­pared for 24 days in the shel­tered Bud­dhist king­dom of Bhutan, 17 days cross­ing the Himalayas on one of the world’s tough­est trekking routes, and about 2 weeks with no con­nec­tion to the out­side world beyond an emer­gency SAT phone…but the nature of adven­ture is that things don’t always go as planned. 

On the day I arrived, a cyclone dropped new snow on pass­es that were already unusu­al­ly late to melt in the cold spring. On the mid­dle trail of the Snow­man Trek a week lat­er, the route was blocked with snow for miles, and our entire trip had to be rerout­ed on the fly. Over the next few weeks, one client had to be evac­u­at­ed, the weath­er nev­er real­ly cleared, one of our staff had a death in the fam­i­ly, we were trekking through an area I hadn’t ful­ly researched, and all of our end-of-trip hotels had to be rearranged. So many things didn’t go as planned, but this is part of why peo­ple return to trav­el with me again and again: I will take care of it (what­ev­er it” may be). I take care of prob­lems and I take care of peo­ple, which helps every­one step into this for­eign geog­ra­phy, this for­eign cul­ture, this chal­leng­ing expe­ri­ence and be successful. 

Whether your water bot­tle opens up inside your down sleep­ing bag in sub-freez­ing weath­er or the coun­try shuts down for a rev­o­lu­tion or you break your arm or a pup­py adopts the group in a snow­storm or the group adopts a child, (all of which have hap­pened over the years), I do what I can to keep peo­ple hap­py, com­fort­able, and make it all work as grace­ful­ly as pos­si­ble. It’s not some hero­ic effort but rather a nat­ur­al exten­sion of who I am and how I am in the world. I do every­thing I can and then let go of what is beyond my con­trol. I enjoy sup­port­ing peo­ple, fig­ur­ing out solu­tions, and cre­at­ing cul­tur­al connection. 

Whether it’s wran­gling heli­copter evacs, find­ing an orphan­age for an aban­doned child, build­ing per­son­al rela­tion­ships with local gurus and monks, find­ing out what nuns want, tak­ing clients down labyrinthine alleys to vis­it friends in the mid­dle of a rev­o­lu­tion, or becom­ing hon­ored guests at vil­lage fes­ti­vals, I have a way of mak­ing things hap­pen. We’re all on these adven­tures for the expe­ri­ence, and the unex­pect­ed is part of that. Some­times the unex­pect­ed brings won­der­ful new expe­ri­ences, some­times it brings dif­fi­cul­ties to over­come, and some­times it’s just a incon­ve­nient has­sle, but our abil­i­ty to flow with what hap­pens is what allows us to feel the full spec­trum of experience…and that’s part of the rich­ness of the journey. 

We were pre­pared for the Snow­man Trek, but every­thing didn’t go as planned. We didn’t end up hik­ing the route we expect­ed, but we received so many serendip­i­tous and won­der­ful expe­ri­ences through the time in Bhutan that every­one was hap­py in the end. 

One of those unfore­seen ben­e­fits is that I’ve felt inspired to write for the first time in a few years, inspired to recon­nect with all of you and share the adven­ture. All the sto­ries are in the next few posts. Click the next post” link at the bot­tom of the page… 

2020 Dates: Sep­tem­ber 30-Octo­ber 28

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