Close examination shows our vanguard porters, like ants, on the ridgeline in the middle left of the photograph. The ice capped peak on the right is the 25,531 foot Namcha Barwa.
Kundu Dorsempotrang Mountain is easily recognizable by the anvil shaped stone on its summit.
Steep climbs up and steep climbs down. This is hiking in the Himalayas.
With her keen interest in botany, Oy Kanjanavanit is forever examining trailside plants. We feel that she, Christiaan Kuypers, Chombi & Chimed Gompo are the only expedition members who have our well-being at heart. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Ian Baker and Hamid Sardar have a different agenda they aren't sharing - the one that doesn't include us.
Guru Shugstrethang Lake - an extremely revered pilgrimage site.
To the porters, theirs is a living landscape.
The climb up to our Kundu Dorsempotrang base camp is severe. Here our lagging group inches its way up to the holy mountain.
Kundu Lhatso Lake, “The All Gathering Soul Lake". Photo by: Christiaan Kuypers
The porters stare at the cliff face in veneration. Photo by: Christiaan Kuypers
The Jolly Lama and his young attendant join Scarface at a holy boulder. Photo by: Christiaan Kuypers
Vajrayogini’s essence manifests as sacred lakes dotting the landscape. Photo by: Christiaan Kuypers
Kundu Dorsempotrang offers us one final view as the porters labor below.
Ongel, the old Sherpa with his cheap rubber boots, is a stabilizing influence and a wonderful companion.
Matuk (far right) and his companions are stunned at the manifestation of the, “deities from the sky”.
The Gillenwater brothers can’t shake their dogged illness as evidenced in Troy Gillenwater’s expression.
We finally find a fallen log where we can inch our way across the rushing waters.
Back in leech country.
The Rinchenpung Monastery translates to "Mound of Jewels”. It is a welcome sight.
Troy Gillenwater shares photos from home with an older lama. His left hand and all his fingers have been severed by Mao's "Red Guard".
Rang Rig Gyapo the "King of Self-Awareness,” is a rare wrathful emanation of Padmasambhava.
A Garuda, representing the consciously awakened mind, hovers above the "King of Self-Awareness.”
The Old School of Tibetan Buddhism ingeniously incorporates many animistic traditions of the indigenous Bön religion seamlessly into its theology.
With our military escort - Mr. Zang - gone we can freely hand out our coveted Dalai Lama photographs. Here Gil Gillenwater hands several out to the porters.
The love and reverence they have for “His Holiness” is difficult to describe.
Our distribution of the Dalai Lama photos gains us great status at Rinchenpung. They truly are “spiritual currency” in this remote frontier - forgotten by time.
As Todd Gillenwater looks on, Troy Gillenwater presents our foam football to the caretaker’s sons.
The caretaker family at the Rinchenpung Monestary. Note: The brothers' foam football and ball point pen.
The Rinchenpung Monastery. Vajrayogini’s naval chakra is arguably Pemako’s most revered pilgrimage site. Meditation in this power spot generates compounding benefits.
By this time, the leeches don't seem to bother us that much. We've learned that in Pemako it is just a way of life.
It is difficult for us to say goodbye to Kaba Tulku – our “Jolly Lama”. He is such a presence and living example of clear thought. It’s doubtful we could have ever located the magic mountain - Kundu Dorsempotrang - without his knowledge and intuition.
Visiting with the local villagers as we are leaving the Rinchenpung Monestary was fun. Their homes are perpetually filled with smoke.
Trading beads are a big part of the villagers’ lives.
The day’s hike to Medog begins with an unexpected 600 foot climb.
It is a hot and muggy 4,000 foot descent into the military outpost of Medog.
At these lower elevations leeches are everywhere.
Medog. What a disappointment.
Even in this military pigsty with its Mad Max characters - the Dalai Lama photographs carry a huge significance.
The Medog General Store. Todd Gillenwater purchases snacks for us and beers for our life-saving Sherpas.
Troy Gillenwater relaxes in our Medog luxury suite.
Though beer and high doses of Flagyl don’t mix – we can't resist. (Flagyl has been our drug of choice for treating parasitic infections and amebic dysentery. We've been popping the pills like M&M’s.)
At just over 2,000 feet in elevation the jungle heat is stifling. Bepuk lies in the background. Close examination of the photo shows the Doshong River flowing aqua green into the muddy Yarlung Tsangpo. We will cross the Yarlung Tsangpo and follow the Doshong Valley up to the 15,300 foot high Doshong La Pass – our gateway out of Pemako and on to the village of Pei.
Early outside of Bepuk we encounter a local Lopa tribal woman carrying ferns.
Close examination shows the “Liberation Bridge” and its shadow cast on the river in the left of the photo. The aqua-green Doshong River flows in from the right.
The Doshong River.
Our trail virtually “tunnels” up the side of the canyon.
Close examination of this photo shows Troy Gillenwater on the trail in the top right with his arms raised high.
Our well-traveled trail leads us by a few Lopa homes. There is a simplicity in their primitiveness we find alluring.
Pemako is a magic place.
Little by little our climbing takes us above and out of the stifling heat.
Troy Gillenwater looks up the Doshong Valley. Our pass out of Pemako is a half mile above us.
Setting camp for our last night in Pemako.