October 26, 2011 we awoke and we actually had sunshine for which we were very grateful. It would not last however. In the morning after another delicious breakfast we were surprised when Lorraine pulled out two 1 kg bags of ground coffee from home, to be specific, Kicking Horse coffee. She had an amazingly simple setup to brew fresh coffee. This was very much appreciated and enjoyed by all. The Bhutanese are not very keen on coffee and much prefer tea.
Today’s trek was quite challenging with at least three passes and lots of climbing. The total distance traveled would be approximately 12 km and would take approximately 7 hours. Bhutan is all about big elevation gains and losses with steeply carved valleys. It sounds like you should cover a longer distance in the time frame mentioned however topography is everything. The trail gradually ascended to Bjisuma 4066 m and then descended until Yajethang 3900 m. Apparently blue sheep can sometimes be seen around the cliff side however we were never fortunate enough to see these animals. We definitely saw many birds. The trail also gradually ascended towards Loo-nge la 4150 m and then descended passing the meadow of Tsho kam which contained a proliferation of rhododendron bushes. I cannot believe how many rhododendrons were found on these rocky slopes. It must be a thing of utter beauty in spring when they bloom in colours of white, pink, red and multicolor. It would certainly be worthwhile to come back in February or March just to see this. I believe this is where this country got the reputation of being Shangri-La. The trail became gradual at this point until Thujimi Tsawa at 3975 m. The trail then climbed again up to Benjay Bja 4210 m on a very steep slope. After this steep climb a gradual path led to campsite 2 Tshelu Tshokha Ya la at 4250 m. Along the way we were able to view the distant white-capped Himalayan mountains when the weather opened up as well as seeing the yak-herders huts which are very basic and made from local resources like stone. Apparently when the herders come up they cover these basic stone structures with yak hair to create a roof. Amazing. One of the yak-herders huts was built into a cave like structure on the side of a steep side slope. I believe being a yak-herder would be a very difficult job considering the location of many of the structures. It was another gorgeous location for a campsite. However, upon our arrival thick fog and ice crystals began to envelop the camp. I think the staff realized this was a pretty hard day so they served a hot vegetable soup early which made such a difference to how we all felt considering the cold weather.
As we were getting ready to fall asleep, a sudden and fierce gale blew in causing the dining tent to billow and almost blow away. The camp staff responded urgently with extra tie downs for the dining tent and then they went around to each of our tents to better secure the ties and also to place extra stones on our ground sheets to make sure we were not blown away like prayers from prayer flags down the valley. What service! The temperature was bitterly cold and most of them did not have gloves or our fancy four season gear. Would this weather continue to affect the remainder of our trek?