How Group Unity Helped Us Climb the Tiger’s Nest

Our day started at a crisp 5:30 AM before the sun was even awake. Making our way down to the hotel restaurant, we prepared to have a thorough MUNCH — which, might I add, was very scrumptious and phone-free — before our fast-approaching hike on the Tiger’s Nest trail. There was a mixed bag of emotions at the breakfast table: some of our group were still coming over a sickness, others were excited for the adventure that awaited, and the rest were a little grumpy given the early wake-up. 

Flash forward to the base of the park, we were both uneasy and in awe of the distance we were expected to climb. We could barely see the bottom of the monastery even if we tilted our chin full upwards. Despite our reservations, a collective team effort is what helped us get to the top. Unified as we are, Namguy encouraged us to walk at our own pace and support each other’s pace, with the security that we would reunite at the next checkpoint (2 on the way up, 1 on the way down). With the fast guys at the front and the staff toward the back, we felt comfortable walking at our own pace because we knew we wouldn’t fall behind. There would always be someone who quite literally had our back.

a few traits we displayed throughout this hike were kindness and compassion. At various times throughout the journey, our peers checked in and asked if we needed water or snacks. We would return the favour. Other times, it was a small cheer of encouragement from a friend who kept one foot in front of the other. Checkpoint number 1 at the Tiger’s Nest cafe was quite notable. It was nice to take a seat, catch a breath, and talk about our experience during the first part of the hike. Taking photos at the checkpoints was magical. The park is stunning and we finally had a clear view of the monasteries we were climbing to. Arriving at the top was beyond rewarding. Each monastery has its own significance, allowing us to be further educated on the religious devotion of the Bhutanese people. On the way down, we met at the Tiger’s Nest Cafe once more to enjoy our first milk tea of the day surrounded by each other and the incredible view. 

By the time we got down, we were more bonded as a group and it was only noon. The rest of the day, we were served a delicious lunch, went shopping, and then rewarded ourselves for good effort with a hot stone bath. Brilliant. For dinner, Karma listened to our cravings and absolutely delivered, kindly arranging a fusion of Bhutanese food and typical American fast food. In the end, we preferred Bhutanese momos. 

As we (Joseph and Leah) reflect on the day, we recognize the sense of unity and collective strength that was built from overcoming such a challenging and unique adventure. We look forward to continuing to build our group strength and compassion as we tearfully head into our final full day in the Kingdom of Bhutan. 

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