I travelled to Bhutan in April 2019 with a team of 12 women from across Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, all of whom trained remotely for this team adventure. Bhutan had always been a place I had longed to visit, not only because of the desire to trek in the Himalayas, but because it is a land that was isolated for so long, and has preserved so much of it’s own culture and spirituality. We set out to take on the Chomolhari Base Camp Trek over 8 days, but due to heavy snow falls, our team were unable to climb the two high passes on the second half of the trek. Instead we enjoyed two nights at Base Camp and a hike to the stunning Glacial Lakes. This gave us an extra day in Thimpu to explore more of the cultural sights and enjoy the Bhutanese fare.

Our team came away having had a very different experience to the one we had planned for. The wilderness always teaches us lessons in acceptance and resilience, and gives way to other experiences. If we embrace those, we come away enriched in ways we never imagined. Our focus for the trek in Bhutan had been to take on a challenging wilderness trek and immerse ourselves in the beautiful Himalaya. We did just that, but also came away feeling inspired by the Bhutanese way of life, the spiritual experiences we were blessed to have and the calmness we felt whilst we were there.

I can’t wait to return to Bhutan to hike again, and to experience the culture and teachings and the wonderful food. As a vegetarian, Bhutan was so easy to travel in, there was always plenty of food choices, and tasty ones at that!

I wrote this poem as I huddled in my snow covered tent on one of our trek days when the temperature fell below zero. As a mother with young children, the time I spent away in the mountains was valuable to reconnect with other women, share stories, immerse myself in writing, rest, have “me” time and to enjoy the healing wilderness environment with plenty of fresh air and beauty around me

Bhutan: A Poem of thanks
Bhutan you had me at first glance,
Your people and your mountains
Calm and proud in their stance.

Through blizzards and snow
And windy cold days,
We kept trekking on
to discover new trails.

And each time we were surprised even more
At the beauty of your wilderness:
It had us in awe.

The snow covered peaks, glacial lakes and mountain creeks.
The beautiful weathered faces of the children with pink cheeks.
The majestic white peaks glistened in a blue sky,
It felt so good to be in this sacred place on high.

With high passes closed and snow showers each day,
Our trek plans changed and took us the spiritual way.

I looked forward to hanging our prayer flags to bless us on our way,
To give to the wind the worries we no longer wanted to carry with us each day.

I hope to find a way to keep in my heart,
That sense of contentment you have down to an art:
To do no harm, protect the land, always come in peace, and offer a kind hand.

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