October 18: An Injured Yak's Cosmic Fate

Pilgrims, back on the trail. Next stop: Yudrathang. i i

Pilgrims, back on the trail. Next stop: Yudrathang. Bill McQuay, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Bill McQuay, NPR
Pilgrims, back on the trail. Next stop: Yudrathang.

Pilgrims, back on the trail. Next stop: Yudrathang.

Bill McQuay, NPR
Meals along the trail were simple, and yak butter tea was a staple.

Meals along the trail were simple, and yak butter tea was a staple. Bill McQuay, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Bill McQuay, NPR

Pilgrimage Map

Click the smaller map above to chart Bill McQuay's journey. i i

Click the smaller map above to chart Bill McQuay's journey. National Geographic Society hide caption

itoggle caption National Geographic Society
Click the smaller map above to chart Bill McQuay's journey.

Click the smaller map above to chart Bill McQuay's journey.

National Geographic Society

It's morning. Kayson approaches me with two cups of hot water in his hands. My jaw drops when he says a line of curious Tibetans had formed outside my tent during the night. It seems they were all anxious to catch a glimpse of the chicame (foreigner).

He says he had to use all his powers of persuasion to discourage their interest — and with a broad smile he says I must be a powerful Lama to have such a devoted following. Everyone in the camp laughs as we settle around the fire and the percolating tea pot.

We slowly wind upward on a path through a forest, the overcast sky darkening the greens of the trees that spread outward on both sides of the path. A yak bull passes us, heading downward towards a village. The yak is limping and its right front leg appears to be broken. I wonder what fate might await him when he returns home...

The memory of witnessing a small group of Tibetan men gutting a yak on the side of the road on our drive from Deqin leads me to conclude that a similar fate probably awaits this injured yak. What possible effect, if any, will this pilgrimage have on my attitude to my own death?

Previous: October 17 — Camping with Fellow Pilgrims

Next: October 20 — Down from Dokarla Pass

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