Into the wild and alone

| Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu


The 27-year-old, an employee of Drukair’s Flight Operations Divisions, says being with nature is one of the surest ways to discover the inner guy in you

Meet the man who had hiked the perilous Taktshang (Tiger’s liar, Paro) in less than 30 minutes and conquered the majestic Phajoding trail in 45 minutes. Though a self proclaimed football-lover and a nature enthusiast, Jigme Tenzin’ s off the track records and solo journeys across some of the most difficult and regal landscapes in the country is definitely worth a page in the many books of adventure and travel.

“I wanted to test myself to the limits and also give myself a break from the everyday nuances of life and the daily official grinds,” says the 27-year-old from Pemagatshel, but whose parents are now settled in  Ugyentse in Samtse, about his recent solo trek to the Jomolhari Base Camp located at 4100meters above sea level.

According to Jigme, the problem of not knowing the trails and the uncertainty of getting lost in the wilderness was one thing that hung at the back of his mind before he set on the journey. The strenuous altitude and topography with an additional 30kg backpack strapped on his back didn’t make the matter comforting.

“I was not sure if I was physically prepared to do this but I knew this was going to be tough. So mentally I was ready to do it,” he says, adding that it was his first ever experience going for a trek and that he didn’t have any trekking gears of his own to begin with.

Nonetheless, after managing a tent, a sleeping bag and mat, cookies and edibles to last two days and some basic first-aid kits and warm clothes he finally made up his mind to set off for the trek. His backpack weighed 30kilograms and, strangely, he had no idea of how the route was and how long it was going to take. The biggest challenge remained yet, that Jigme was alone.

“Everyone who knew about it, my solo trip to go to Jomolhari base camp, was against this idea and did not give me a slightest nod of encouragement. Yet I was determined to make it,” Jigme adds, with a hint of accomplishment lining his brow.

Despite all the odds staled against him, Jigme finally heads off for the trek taking the route from Shana in Paro. The trail from Shana to Jomolhari base camp in Jangothang usually takes two days for tourists.

“I was not sure if I could make it to the first base camp before sunset. So I just kept forging ahead with a gradual pace and never stopped to rest. I was tired and hungry at times but the thought of reaching the designated camp on time kept me pushing harder.”

Apart from the few yaks and cattle, Jigme did not meet a single soul along the way that, at times, he was unsure whether he was on the right track. Jigme had long crossed the base camp and was headed further to Lingshi until a herder told him that he had already passed the base camp way below.

“The herder told me that I had crossed the base camp at Jangothang and was headed for Lingshi. I had to turn back and recoil my steps towards the camp which was not too distant,” Jigme says, adding that had it not been for the nomad he would have lost his way in the woods.

Jigme noted that he had taken a little more than seven hours to reach the designated base camp at Jangothang from Shana, a record time given that it takes at least two-days to cover the journey. “People were surprised when I told them that I took only about half a day to make the entire journey. My return trip back to Shana took only 6hours 20 minutes.”

Reminiscing of the trip, Jigme says that individuals today are all busy with their work and are too engaged thinking about their problems and trying to find solutions to them while there is whole lot of adventure awaiting us.

Jigme adds that it is very important we take care of our health, not only the physical but our mental health too. “Taking up such activities will not only make us physically fit but also make us mentally sound. It will help balance things in life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a trek as a simple hike with friends and families will be wonderful experience to spend quality time. We have so many beautiful natural trails to hit on.”

His journeys and accomplishments are not done for awards and accolades, nor will he steal the headlines of travel mags or newspapers. In fact no one will know for he prefers doing it alone. Yet the zest and adrenaline in him keeps him going.

The passion in Jigme is best summed up when he says: “I believe we are born more than just to work, pay bills and die.”

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