Sandeep and I were both up all night in our freezing tent in Dzongri. We had trekked for three days to a height of 14,000 feet and altitude sickness started to get the better of us. Following the eight our uphill trek that day and very little oxygen, were starting to feel delirious. Our guides, porters and us chose a camping site in a small valley in Dzongri. Our tent (the yellow one), our kitchen tent (blue) and our bathroom tent (green) were the only structures in sight. Here’s the blow by blow starting at about 1 A.M.
Sandeep: D. D… D!!!! Do you hear that?
Diya: Huh, yeah. It sounds like a horse.
Sandeep: It’s not a horse. The horses all wear those bells.
Diya: Well, maybe this is a good horse. Maybe the horseman knows he won’t run away so he let him free without the bell.
Sandeep: I doubt it. Anyway, it’s moving around but I don’t hear it breathing. Don’t horses breathe?
Diya: Yeah. But maybe he’s just relaxing.
Sandeep: Then why is he walking around like that? No it should be breathing. Animals breathe. This one is not breathing.
Diya: Ok, maybe it’s not an animal then.
Sandeep: What is it? It’s moving around. S$!1! It’s borrowing under my head.
Diya: Turn on the torch! Shine the torch at it.
Sandeep: It’s still there. It’s not a good sign that we are pointing a light at it’s face and talking but it’s not scared of us.
Diya: Well, if it’s small enough to burrow and it isn’t scared of us then it’s probably not going to attack.
Sandeep: Do you know that?
Sandeep: You’re always rationalizing everything. It is not normal for an animal to be around us for so long.
Diya: You’re always paranoid. What do you know about normalcy and animals? Anyway, I still think it’s a grazing horse.
Sandeep: Then why is it burrowing under my head?
This goes on for about an hour while we each accuse each other of being too paranoid and too laid back…
Diya: Listen, if it’s been here for an hour and hasn’t attacked then I am sure it’s not going to. Anyway, the only wild animal here is a snow leopard. But I don’t think snow leopards graze.
Sandeep: Snow leopard? That’s not good. Not good at all.
Diya: Ok, let’s call Thupten (our guide). We’re not getting any sleep.
Sandeep and Diya: Thupten. Thupten! THUPTENNNNNN!!!
Thupten (sounding startled): Yes? Wait, wait. What is it? Are you sick?
Sandeep: Yes, but that’s not why we called you. There is a wild animal here.
Thupten: Inside the tent?
Sandeep: No, outside. Behind our heads I think.
Diya: It’s a horse.
Thupten: There is no wild animal here.
Diya: Is there a horse?
Thupten: No. Are you sure it’s not the wind?
Sandeep: Huh. Maybe.
Diya: I don’t think it’s the wind. It sounded like it was grazing.
Sandeep: No, it was burrowing.
Thupten rustles our tent cover, which was hardened with ice. Sure enough, it sounds like an animal moving about. He kicked the mat behind our heads and it definitely sounds like an animal burrowing.
Sandeep and Diya: Sorry Thupten.
Sandeep: We’re from the city. We don’t know anything about animals or sleeping in tents.
By this time we were almost at our 4 A.M. wake up to view the sunrise over the mountain range. Sandeep and I stayed up, agreeing we need to work on our outdoorsy skills.