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…