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The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan. Photo by Chelsea Ferrel.

“10/10 Dismount”

Picture this: It’s Day 2 of the trek, and we are about six and a half hours into our day of hiking.  Just a couple of short hours ago we had been peacefully (aside from the leeches) munching on our lunches under the shade provided by prayer flags.  I am hiking just in front of Tsering, and we are enjoying a lovely conversation that is distracting us from our sore muscles and heavy packs.  All was going blissfully…until….

I take another step that at first seems just like my last hundred – muddy! But, this time, I step onto a slippery patch of mud that knocks me off my feet.  I attempt to put my hands down to soften the fall, only, instead of ground, I feel empty air. The weight of my pack sends my body spiraling sideways over the edge, and I begin to tumble.  I go, completely head-over-heels, into a full-on back flip down the side of a mountain.  Reaching out, I grab a thorn bush to stabilize myself.  About twenty meters down from where the group is hiking, my tumble comes to a halt.  I immediately stand up and shout back up to the many worried faces: “I’m OK”!!! With instruction from my peers, I carefully make my way back up to where everyone is waiting with their jaws dropped.  “Ten out of ten dismount! Great performance!” shouts Grace. “That felt like slow motion.  It was actually quite elegant” notes Claire.  I look down and begin to pick out a series of thorns from my hands.  Tsering kindly offers me her handy safety pin and I spend the next fifteen minutes picking out thorns and splinters from the outer layer of my skin.  Once seemingly all clear, we continue walking.  After a few paces, I unbuckle my pack and find that my shirt is ripped and I have “skinned” a bit of my stomach (not too bad at all, don’t worry).  Anyway, to do a backwards somersault off the edge of a Himalayan mountain and to only come away with some pretty minor scrapes and bruises, I consider myself very lucky!

Most of all, though, the love shown to me by the group and instructors was truly remarkable.  From the endless “are you sure you’re ok” comments to Tsering grabbing my hand whenever it got the slightest bit slippery to Rishi carrying my pack for the last couple hours of the trek, I felt supported and loved.  I am so grateful to be a part of a group as caring and selfless as this one, and I am looking forward to the many (hopefully less painful) adventures ahead!