The Communist Chinese forbade the Bhakha Buddhist monks to travel with us. Ian Baker counts the group’s cash. Certainly a bribe will change their minds.
The head Lama of the Taksham Monastery bore a remarkable resemblance to Yoda.
At the Taksham Monastery (the, “Tiger Skin Monastery”) we found a most unusual mural depicting five tigers devouring a corpse.
Conducting a divination ceremony known as a "prasena" the Buddhist monks manifested a rainbow to guide us to our trailhead. An elderly Ani (Nun) looks on in knowing devotion.
The Rainbow of “Divine Guidance”.
Driving out of Pome we passed this sign claiming the Communist Chinese as the protectors of the Himalayas.
The Himalayan scenery from our 1st camp was other-worldly.
Seemingly out of nowhere a Lama - Kaba Tulku (pronounced Kawa) - and his small entourage arrive. What a gift!
The enigmatic Kaba Tulku (the “Cloud Lama” ) with his tell-tale Red Hat. This represents his adherence to the Nyingma or “Old School” sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The ethereal Lama was to become an integral part of our pilgrimage and the mystery of our journey.
We were surrounded by massive Himalayan glaciers.
Double loads equal double pay. Here our “Gentle Giant” carries over 120 pounds.
Finally we were hiking! Our group moved as a multi-legged centipede wending its way along and across the glacial spillway.
Soon the climbing began. At first I felt bad – me carrying 25 pounds and the porters carrying from 60 pounds to double that. I soon got over it. That is what they are trained and paid to do.
It was a dream come true. Hiking the Himalayan “Hidden Lands” with the 2 people I could count on the most – my brothers Troy & Todd.
Camping at the base of the Dashing La Pass. At an elevation of 12,850 feet, we had half a mile of vertical climbing to reach the Pass. Then we would descend into the depths of Pemako’s “Hidden Lands”.
Following a dip in the glacial stream, Gil and his “Buddha Eyes” survey the Dashing Valley.
Finding a dead bear incurred no negative karma. Our food shortage was solved. We would eat like Kings! Kaba Tulku guided the bear’s soul to a better rebirth.
Gutting the bear in search of the prized gallbladder. Soon we would have meat aplenty.
Roasting the meat took all night. We had over 200 pounds of bear steaks.
The butchering and tribal incantations went on for hours. The Guardian Spirits were pleased. They’d given us this gift. The porters chanted their gratefulness.
The porters played with the bear’s head throughout the night hoping to embody its spirit. They kept the head for several days.
At 14,000 feet in elevation, climbing up and out of the Dashing Valley was a formidable task.
95 #44 & #45
The Sherpas and porters were super-human.
95 #46 & #47
Stopping to soak in the scenery. At times it was overwhelming.
Hiking the ice fields was treacherous. Especially with a 100 pound load.
One final look back into the Dashing Valley.
Todd reaches the Dashing La Pass.
Troy and Pasang Sherpa reach the Dashing La Pass.
A pony caravan emerges from the roiling Pemako abyss.
With Mr. Zang well ahead I offer Dalai Lama photographs.
Dropping off the Dashing La Pass and negotiating the ice fields at the head of the Chimdro Valley.
Waterfalls have special significance in Pemako. Hundreds were cascading into the Chimdro Valley.
Staring into the throat of the Chimdro Valley.
This cabin had wall to wall porters chomping on putrefied bear meat.
The ground was so saturated with water our tent felt like a waterbed.
Our dropping elevation took us deep into leech country.
A steep descent off the Dashiing La Pass and into the Chimdro Valley.
Pemako weather vacillates from pounding rain to scorching sun several times a day. Here Todd crosses a cantilevered bridge.
Pemako was a Fairy Land.
The Crazy Nun.
Poison witches in Pemako have tattooed tongues. Therefore, local etiquette requires the sticking out of tongues for all female introductions. Here the Crazy Nun is proving to us she is not a poison witch.
Two different rivers - 30 feet apart - flowing in opposite directions?
Troy won the “worst place to find a leech” contest.
Leech bites became common occurrences.
The tunneled bamboo thickets were very disorienting. Knowing the area’s large tiger population didn’t help.
Troy and porters hope they’re on the right trail.
95 #70 & #71
The hot and tangled Rhododendron forests became oppressive.
The local children would stare at us for hours. Inbreeding was taking a toll in these isolated villages.
With Mr. Zang in Ghutan trying to secure our permits, I had free license to hand out Dalai Lama photographs in the village of Samdrup. This man lost the sight in his left eye due to a leech bite.
95 #74 & #75
The tribal people’s love for the Dalai Lama knew no bounds.
I love this photo. Here our Lama rests in meditative peace. Next to him, exhausted, is our Communist Chinese military escort – Mr. Zang. Mr. Zang was conflicted. He couldn’t square the spiritual magic of Pemako, he witnessed thru the Lama, with his atheistic Communist beliefs.