This was our final trek day. We were all saddened by this but were heartened by Gerry’s rapid recovery. He was still ill but felt so much better after some rest. We were all thrilled that he was able to join us for the entire final hike day out. He is one tough cookie. We were going to have a relatively steep ascent to Shingko Teng at 4170 m but then a major descent back to Bangena at 2713 m. Terry had felt the previous six days of trekking were particularly hard on her knees. She had prior injuries from sports related trauma. It was her turn to take some mule medicine- it’s really good for what ails you. Once we got up to Shingko Teng we had an absolutely spectacular descent through beautiful old growth forest with abundant vegetation. It was quite a change from what we had experienced over the previous six days. The temperature also became warmer and warmer. I think all of us became rather introspective as we enjoyed the descent and reflected on the experiences we had had over the previous one week. We all felt very proud of ourselves when we finally exited at the trailhead. We were provided with biscuits and hot milk tea from Ugyen, Tsewang’s wife, as congratulations for the completion of our trek. What a heartwarming gesture.
After saying goodbye to the camp staff we loaded ourselves into our van driven again by Krishna whom we had not seen for about one week. We drove through Haa and then drove over Chele la Pass, the highest road in Bhutan at 3810 m. It was getting quite dark but we did appreciate the view from the top. We also finally saw a yak on this return trip. This road provided a much quicker way to return to Paro and we were all thrilled when we finally arrived at our hotel resort. The resort and the rooms were like a palace compared to the tents we had been living in over the last seven days. We all enjoyed hot showers, a wonderful dinner with wine and beer and then settled in to a well-deserved slumber. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Bhutan and we were scheduled to visit Tigers Nest Monastery at 3100 m as a final destination. We still had one hike to do. Not everyone elected to do this. For some a trekkers’ massage was just what the doctor ordered.