Bhatra-Himni to Dolam
2 miles + 400 meters
We packed up for a lazy morning and prepared to say good-bye to one of our group members. As logistics were worked out to evac him, the rest of us played duck-duck-goose with children from a local school.
Their laughter echoed in the early morning as they kicked up dust in clouds around the circle. The joy of these little humans lifted all our spirits as we said good-bye to one of our group. The sun began to disappear as we hit the trail at noon. As we moved up through the village asking the rasta to Dolam. My pack dug into my hips.
Weather beaten faces peered out of intricately carved door frames. The path we walked felt well-worn as we zig-zagged up through emerald fields.
The rain began and we popped our umbrellas to shield from the slow drizzle. The trail faded in and out, walked to nothing, covered by gnarled tree branches at times. We passed through the rhododendron forest silent and magical with its old tree growth.
Mules passed us by and we finally wound to the spot on the map that was Dolam. The mountain was steep and it took us hours to find enough flat space for the tents. We sat waiting for the other hiking groups under pink flowers drinking fanta from the village the night before.
Part of our group popped over a strange ridge, turns out the cobblestone path we followed was not found by the other groups. They bush wacked through thick forest ridges and found the shepherd camp Dolam by some twist of luck. The last part of our group would not show up until the next morning, camping alone lost in the twists and turns of the forest below us.
We ate a hardy bean soup before bundling off to bed under molten silver clouds lit by stars.
I fell asleep to the far-off drums of these mountain people. I felt at home.