So, Sunday afternoon, my new friend Meghan and I, along with Sciel, Meghan’s roommate, decide we’re going to hike the Triund trail to the Dhauladhar mountains – a range in the Himalayas, soaring 2875 Meters above sea level. (Meghan’s the girl the monkeys attacked at Tushita) We planned to leave on Monday around noon, camp out overnight and then return Tuesday morning.

Realizing that I was not prepared with proper hiking boots or anything suitable for hours of trekking, I run out into town Monday morning to get some boots and other camping essentials – wine, snacks, more wine… The shops don’t open until 10 in the morning here, so I get myself all organized and my small backpack all ready to go with warm clothes and then run out to find shoes… I walk the streets for 1 1/2 hours in search of somewhere to buy shoes – I’d seen many shops in the past weeks with hiking shoes… Why are none of them open??? Grrrr what the hell is going on here???? I need boots!!

I ran over to a store I had seen a few days earlier that had boots and decided to wait there until they opened… I sat and perched on a step in the shade, and strike up a conversation with a resident monk who is waiting for the bank to open next door… The monk looks to be in his 60’s and he is Australian born, but has lived here in India for some 20+ years. Very interesting fellow…

I mentioned that I had recently completed the Intro to Buddhism course and we talked for a bit about their philosophies… I explained that I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole rebirth thing and that I had grown up in the Christian faith and it all seemed a bit unfathomable to me…

He asked about my travel plans and I mentioned that I was going to Europe this summer, and he listed many places for me to visit in Italy where I could see proof of some of the unorthodox (to me) Buddhist beliefs..   Hmmm, will look into that… He went on to tell me that although he was an Australian living in India, in his past life he was an Italian Catholic, so he understood my questions and doubts… He went further on to tell me that he already knew that he would be born in his future life as a Tibetan. Huh, interesting… He said he really wanted to be born in the next life as an American, but that just wasn’t meant to be for him yet. I asked why he wanted to be born in America, and mentioned that it was not a very Buddhist minded country and how much of America has gotten out of hand with greed, corrupt politics, unethical lifestyles, etc…. He said “Exactly – they need me! That’s why I want to be born there.” Wow, ok, I get it… Really interesting…

We sit there a bit longer and I ask if he knows somewhere I can get shoes.. He informs me that most stores are closed on Monday’s and I probably wouldn’t be able to get boots today… Say what? Who closes on Monday’s… Grrrr…. I cannot hike up that 4 hour trek in flip flops!!! Not good…. I say goodbye to my new monk friend and walk the streets frantically towards the rickshaw stand searching one last time for boots… No luck…. Some other stores are open, but all stores with shoes are closed… WTF??? This freakin’ sucks…

Unsure of what to do, I decide, maybe it’s just not my day to hike up a mountain… (I am learning to let things happen more intuitively and not force things that may not be meant to be – even still, Grrrr!) I think maybe I’ll just run up the hill to give Meghan the wine and supplies… I can’t bail on her AND not supply the most essential, vino … As I walk up the hill, I’m picturing myself standing on the side of the road with a sign “Can I rent your boots” Hey, it could happen… Eryn, if you don’t climb that mountain today, you probably won’t do it before you leave Dharamsala… Dammit girl, you need shoes!! I see a shoe repairman on the side of the road working on boots, resoling them. Huh, those look like my size. I ask if I can buy them from him – He says, “No, sorry, these are for someone else.” Bummer… Ok, this just is not my day for a climb, I suppose…

I make it to Meghan’s to tell her the bad news and that she and Sciel will have to go without me… Meghan tells me that Sciel has been having some foot issues and decided she didn’t want to make it worse with an intense hike… Oh, crap, I can’t not go now… Meghan needs a climbing buddy… Sciel says I can use her shoes, but I try them on and they don’t fit, too small… Meghan says, “Well mine are a bit big for me, maybe you can wear mine and I’ll wear Sciel’s”…. Awe that’s sweet, Meghan… Ok, let’s try it… We both try on the shoes and decide although they’re a tad small for both of us we may not have the chance to hike the Triund trail again so we decide to go for it… Ahhh what’s a few blisters…

We organize our bags… Blankets, check – wine, check – camera, check – extra layers of clothes for the cold night, check – peanut butter and crackers, check – bananas, check – water, check…. Ok, yep, that’s really all we need… And it’s quite a lot actually to have hanging off our backs… Even with our overstuffed bags and our slightly small shoes, we are pumped for the hike and make our way towards the trail…

We walk and walk and walk, ascending in long zig zag fashion over steep, rocky terrain… Yeah, flip flops would’ve really sucked!! The views are spectacular, the weather perfect, and Meghan and I are having fun getting to know one another… She’s in her early 20’s and is on a studying abroad program for her journalism degree… Adorable, intelligent, spiritually minded individual with a great life ahead of her… Dammit, I wish I’d traveled like this when I was in my 20’s… feeling like a big sister… Awwwe…

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We stop at a few chai shops along the way for much needed breaks. It’s amazing to me how these little make shift huts are just plopped there on the side of a mountain… And they have all the essentials – potato chips, soda’s, chocolate, toilet paper, and chai… What else is there in life, really? LOL

At the last chai shop before we make it to the top, we meet Pavire, a 25 year old shop owner who prepares our chai for us… Ahhhh, chai…. Meghan and I sit on his rock bench and share some oreo’s and chai while Pavire serenades us with his stellar bansuri skills – that’s basically a wooden flute… I believe Pavire has a little crush on Meghan… Awwwe how cute… And wow, that Pavire is very talented with the flute!!       

We thank our new friend Pavire for the private concert, and we get back on the trail and start making our final trek up to the peak… Geez, are we freakin’ there yet people? I am so over this hiking crap!!! The last third of the trek became steeper and steeper and the zig zag trails on the side of the hill, shorter and rockier… Pavire continues to play for us as we leave his shop and it gave us inspiration to keep going as we heard his flute all the way up the rest of the mountain. Wow, amazing how the sound travels all the way up here…

Finally, we clear the last boulder and are suddenly standing on this huge open green space with massive boulders scattered about. I made it, I made it – see Godlewski, I AM athletic! LOL… We are on top of one mountain, which is lusciously green, and looking across to another range of higher mountains, which are snow covered… Truly breathtaking!!! I mean, really WOW!!! We look around and see three little huts that rent tents, provide food and chai, of course… We go left to the closest hut to ask someone about renting a tent… It’s about 5 in the afternoon now, so if they don’t have a tent for us, we are screwed! It is already getting colder and I do NOT want to go back down that mountain tonight! Please tell me you have a tent for us – so stupid for not booking ahead… We sort of just packed our stuff and ran up the mountain.. Please, please, please, a tent please…..

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The nice Indian man shows us over to an open tent – Yay!! We throw our bags in the tent and decide to walk around for a bit admiring all the amazingness that is around us before the sun goes down… Whoa! There’s that Joey again… Whoa!! We walk away from the direction of our tent and more towards the second chai shop in the middle of the open space on top of the mountain…   We’ve already had our afternoon chai, so we’re just passing by learning our new surroundings… OMG who is that gorgeous man sitting there? Holy shit, that smile – those eyes… Whoa!! My eyes are locked to his as I pass by him… Thank God I have my sunglasses… Do I look away? Do I keep looking? Whoa…

Meghan and I pass on by the chai shop where Mr. Handsome sits and keep clicking our cameras to capture every picturesque scene… I mean, 360 degrees, whichever way we looked, there was something amazing to see… To the right where we had climbed up from town, was full of tall green trees and impressive cliffs… And to the left towards the snow-covered mountains, it was like 180 degrees of full on Himalayan snowy mountains with bits of rock showing from behind where the snow had melted… Then, each far end of the mountaintop where we stood, there were huge protruding boulders sticking up through the green earth… It was like sensory overload… So glad we are staying the night so we can fully take this all in… Whoa!

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We decide to head back to the tent and get our blankets and the ever-important wine… We need to open that bottle and celebrate our trek up the mountain – and hopefully it will help to warm us up, the temperature is dropping fast as the sun sinks behind the mountain…

We pass back by the second chai shop again but on the back side and I notice Mr. Handsome walking towards me, but on another elevation than me, he’s a bit lower on the mountain… He is looking at me – he is smiling at me… Heeeelllllo you!!! We both continue on our paths in opposite directions as we pass each other, our eyes locked with smitten smiles on our faces that are hard to contain… I notice as he takes a seat overlooking the snowy side of the mountains and pulls out his wooden flute and begins to play… Oooy, I am in trouble… Would it be totally stalker like of me if I took a picture of him sitting on that rock? Seriously, Eryn? A gorgeous man, on top of a mountain by himself, who is smiling at you and plays the flute? Really? You can’t make this shit up! I am so going over to get my blanket and then coming back to sit next him… Something is telling me to go over there!!!! Go over there Eryn!!

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I catch back up with Meghan who is organizing our sleeping bags inside the tent and we get our blankets and wine out. “Meghan, did you see that guy back there? I think I have to go back and talk to him… Something is really drawing me to him…” Meghan says, “Go for it!” Whoa… We shimmy out of the tent and Meghan says she’s going to find a bathroom – aka, a large rock with other rocks around it to disguise you squatting… When we turn around to look for the best rock for Meghan to visit, Mr. Handsome is standing right there in front of us. “Hello” he says, with his Israeli accent… “Ummmm, hi.” Actually, to be completely honest, I have absolutely no recollection of what he said or what I said in return… We just stood there talking in a completely natural and comfortable way… talking, talking, talking… Meghan runs off to do her thing and when she comes back, we all cop a squat on the mountain side to watch the sunset and open the bottle of wine… SO worth carrying that wine all the way up the mountain…

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We chat there for an hour or so and all drink on the red wine, while huddled up in our blankets and continue on with interesting conversation. I ask Meghan if she has any advil… That damn sun from the mid day hike gave me a serious headache…. Grrrr… I see Meghan checking her mind to recall if she has anything in her bag… Mr. Handsome, chimes in, “Would you like me to do a healing on you? I can make your headache go away.” A healing from Mr. Handsome… Yummy!! Oh, what the hell – yes, heal me Mr. Handsome!! LOL (By the way, lots of people are healers out here… There are so many types of energy healing – reiki, sound, color, shiatsu, reflexology – many, many more types of healing – I’m not that educated on it, that’s more Siggy’s thing, but it seems like everyone you meet out here is into some sort of alternative healing.   Lots of intuitive, creative, artistic, musically inclined, spiritual and deep souls out here in this part of the world… Love it!!)

Mr. Handsome says, “Come… Sit here in front of me.” Ah, yes, right away sir! He begins by putting his hands on my back and applying pressure in various locations… He moves up to my neck, my head and my arms, and continues to work his magic… Whoa… The three of us keep talking on life and sharing the bottle of wine while I receive the most amazing headache extraction. The hills are alive, with the sound of music…. Aaahhhaahhhhh… Sound of music theme song… Anyone? Hahahaha

When the headache is gone, I touch his hand and thank him so he knows he can stop if he wants to… But he leaves his hands on my back, moving them around and rubbing my arms… Before I know it, I’m leaning further back into his chest with his legs on each side of mine and he’s got his arms all the way around me with the blanket covering us both…. WTF, is this a movie? What is going on here?? These things don’t happen to me… Dammit, why didn’t we carry up more wine!  He seems quite happy having me there in his arms and I am more than happy to have some extra body heat provided by Mr. Handsome Healer… Holy freezing up there on the mountain! Huh, maybe I should be cuddling with Meghan to keep her warm…. Naaaaahhhhh…

After an hour or so of mountainside healing, talking, cuddling and drinking wine, the chai hut fellow calls us over for dinner…. Yay, something warm for our tummies… Yayyyyy!!! We all huddle up around the fire and chow down on the talhi plate they prepared for us… Oh, look who showed up, it’s Pavire from the last chai shop – Yep, I knew he had a crush on Meghan… Awwe how cute, he came up the hill for her… Pavire pulls out his flute and plays for us while we eat… Eryn, stop to appreciate this moment… You’re on top of a mountain in northern India, wrapped in a blanket, being heated by the roaring fire and a gorgeous stranger – you’re eating amazing food that an Indian fellow has prepared for you while being serenaded by a talented local flautist, and sharing this experience with a close girlfriend… Wow, Eryn, you will never experience this moment again – take it all in…. Whoa!!

After dinner, Mr. Handsome Healer and I leave the smoky fire pit and huddle up nearby with our blankets and get to know each other a bit better…. We talk and talk and talk for what seems like hours. Geez, Eryn, this is so bizarre, you are so comfortable with this man, but you’ve only just met him a few short hours ago… How can you feel like you’ve known this mysterious Israeli for years and years? Can you imagine if you didn’t wear Meghan’s boots and decided not to take the hike up the mountain today? Wow, so many little coincidental moments that come together to form one serendipitous experience… 

After a while, I tell Mr. Handsome I want to go back and check on Meghan… I didn’t realize it had gotten so late and Meghan said she was ready for bed… I gave Meghan the, “You ok, you need me?” look… She said, “Yeah, I’m good… You?” I told her, “Ummm, yeah, I sort of think I may spend the night in Mr. Handsome’s tent.” I mean it is literally freezing tonight at 32F – seems like the only logical thing to do… LOL I had not previously discussed it with Mr. Handsome, but I doubted he would protest… “Wow, really?” Meghan says, “Ok, well let’s get your sleeping bag.” We gather up my sleeping bag and my extra blanket, and Mr. Handsome and I walk off into the darkness towards his tent…

I wake up early to catch the mountain sunrise. Meghan and I spend a few hours roaming around the mountaintop one last time and take pictures in the morning light while Mr. Handsome sleeps… We dine on peanut butter and bananas and then pack up our bags, ready to hit the trail.   We say our last goodbyes to the beautiful Dhauladhar mountains… Ok Mr. Handsome, we have to go now, it’s time to wake up… I have a jewelry making class today at 2:00 back in town… Mr. Handsome finally emerges from the tent, hello you, and comes over to say good morning… We share a morning chai, exchange contact info and I say, “Tin le nishe ka” (The only Hebrew I’ve learned on my trip so far – “Give me a kiss!”) I give him a hug and a kiss and we say goodbye… Until we meet again Mr. Handsome… Until we meet again…

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