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

My Love/Hate (but ultimately love) Relationship with Trekking

When I first read that Dragons programs were trekking-intensive, I felt a little nervous to be honest. The only camping experiences I’d had before were in either mountain resorts or log cabins with the accompanying loft beds, rustic fireplaces, and jacuzzis (what the instructors so endearingly referred to as “glamping”.)

For the past week, I’ve endured the expected discomfort in stretching the boundaries of my comfort zone. Every jagged rock on trail contorted my wobbling ankles and after full days of walking with a pack, my feet would tingle and swell. One night, Charlotte and I were reading with our headlamps when a fat bee zipped out of the darkness and started buzzing in our ears. We waved our arms around frantically in the poorly-lit tent, but each time we thought it’d finally flown out, it’d reappear and induce in us yet another excruciating heart jolt. Our shrieks were definitely heard by every camper + cooking crew.

So many times I’d rant to my friend Nina, “I’m SO not cut out for this!” But in retrospect, I’m grateful for every experience, good and bad. Every day on trek is a new adventure, whether it’s a fright from glowing yak eyes or adopting a friendly pack of mutts that lap at our leftover lunches.

My favorite hiking experience was when we mounted rocky cliff side slopes like true mountaineers. I remember watching prayer flags ripple, internalizing the power of their collective movement to will myself up to the summit. Towering over Bumthang valley, eye-level with the majestic Himalayan peaks of postcards, was surreal in every way.

The other day, Charlotte shared with us her favorite quote:

“I love the stars too fondly to be afraid of the night.”

Though I’ll probably never overcome my intense fear of bees (and most other stinging insects for that matter), it’s so rarely we get the chance to experience nature in its rawest and most beautiful form.

P.S.: Michael’s trekking photos + mountain doodle!

P.P.S: Hi mom, dad, and grandma! Love and miss you!