Waterfalls and Icy Roads to Bumthang Valley
The scenery and riding today were both spectacular! We began the morning ride by snaking down to a river, crossing a bridge, and then ascending almost 10,500 feet on narrow, winding roads, with countless switchbacks and steep drop-offs on the edges. We rode up and up and up, into the sky. Riding a motorcycle in the twisties is like making physical music, with each curve being a different note. It was bliss!
We stopped at a particularly scenic waterfall. The morning shade made the beauty hard to capture on film.
From the waterfall area, we could see this small stretch of houses across a deep ravine:
Onward the bikes climbed. The air was chilly, and I was layered with long johns and an extra shirt under my leathers. As the road continued its wiggly meandering up the mountain, we alternated from sunshine to shady portions—and the shady portions were often freezing. I rounded one corner to find Ben picking his bike up from the middle of a long stretch of shaded ice that covered the entire road. The first time on the slick ice was a bit unnerving . . . whoa! . . . keep the bike upright . . . no front brake . . . steady, steady, nice and smooth . . . whew--I made it! With continued practice throughout the morning, I became much more relaxed at the ice-crossings.
We continued upward until we finally reached the mountain pass, Thromseng La, with an altitude of over 12,300 feet. We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the thin air at the summit, surrounded by colorful prayer flags.
There were several chortens near the top of the mountain. Many people had left offerings of small clay objects on the ledges of the rectangular chorten (above and below the red horizontal section of the structure):
Today, my bike and I felt very bonded, and we swished and grooved along the roads as if we were one being:
We took a short break overlooking a pretty valley; the small village below was surrounded by layers of terraced agricultural fields:
(Above, from left to right: Paul, Fred, Rob, Ben and Dale)
All too soon, we reached our final destination for today: Bumthang Valley. There was a short stretch of relatively straight road down on the valley floor. When we reached the hotel, Ben and I joked that we didn't think Bhutan even had a straight road.
Our hotel was a converted Bhutanese farmhouse:
We parked the bikes in the front courtyard.
Our room was basic but comfortable, with a shared bathroom down the hall.
The sun was setting soon, and Ben and I wanted to check out the nearby town of Jakar. After a 10-minute walk, we were in the midst of a row of rustic-looking shops selling souvenirs, antiques, clothing and other things. After a quick peek around, we headed back to the hotel. We stopped to talk for a while with two beautiful sisters, ages 9 and 11, who were walking in the opposite direction. Then we continued down the dirt road, with a few cows sauntering along beside us for company.
<< Day 5: Bhutan; Switchbacks Galore to Mongar | Day 7: Festivities in Bumthang Valley >>
Back to Bhutan Index Page
Back to Home Page