One thing you should know about Tibetan monks is that recycling makes them alarmingly happy. Another thing you should know about them is that a lot of them live in Dharamsala, including the Dalai Lama. I visited Dharamsala last December, but I didn't see the Dalai Lama, mostly because my protective detail (which consists of my imaginary friend Taggart and nobody else really) wouldn't allow it.
Dharamsala sits a mile up in the Himalaya, and you see a lot of spiritually aware Americans there. And by "spiritually aware" I mean unshowered, dazed, and clutching a backpack with patches sewn onto it that say things like, "Not all who wander are lost," even though when you look at these guys you can tell that at least some who wander are, in fact, lost. Sometimes you can see them perusing the wares in Tibetan-themed self-help book stores with names like "Quiet Mind Space" and "Peace in Solitude." If I had a self-help book store in Dharamsala, it would be called "Ozzy Loves You," because I think it would make aimless people feel good to experience that amorous embrace of Ozzy love, which also smells vaguely like partially chewed bush meat, I'm told. And you would be able to come inside the store and read books and listen to Crazy Train and Paranoid and Mr. Tinkertrain and be at peace.
My main reason for being in Dharamsala was to run the Triund. The Triund is a pretty big deal. Think of the hardest hike you can possibly think of, and then divide that by 1,000. That's what it's like to hike the Triund. But I was going to run it, which is like a big deal on top of a big deal. So, basically a big deal sundae. The first day I did not succeed. I ran three miles from town, up a switchbacking dirt road, but then was stopped at the trailhead by a bored policeman who claimed the trail was closed, I guess because it was too sunny. But I saw that cow in the picture above, so the effort was not a total waste. I felt like I'd made lemons out of lemonade, as they say.
The next day I planned to wander around town, photograph Americans throwing up after eating street food, maybe write some bad poetry whilst sitting philosophically at a window in a cafe watching Tibetan ladies overcharge European backpackers for cute mittens. But as I ate breakfast on the roof of my hotel and scanned the mountains above me, I realized that if I took a back route through a little village just below the Triund trailhead, and then bushwhacked up the side of the mountain, I could join the trail a quarter mile beyond the bored policeman's roadblock.
My plan actually worked out pretty well, PLUS this dog basically kept me company most of the way up the mountain. This put my mind at ease with the knowledge that if I fell and died, the dog would be able to inform my family, or else eat my innards, depending on how it was feeling at the time.
I normally am against selfies on principle, but I was feeling proud of myself for outsmarting the bored policeman, so here's me a few hundred feet from the summit of the Triund trail. The best part of the day though came on my way back down the trail, when I bounded out of the forest behind the bored policeman and passed him at a run, heading down the switchbacking dirt road. He probably yelled something after me, like "You're so awesome, how do you do it!!" I mean, the truth is I don't really know. I guess I'm just going off the rails on a crazy train.