we had a pretty epic wandering in order to find the right path to Juneydrak. We could see it from Ha town, or at least we thought we could; but the manager at the hotel where we were staying was drunk for the full 24 hrs that we were there, so who knows what directions of his that he gave could be trusted. We had actually planned to camp out, but we scoped out an camping spot inches deep in water in the pouring rain and we decided that although we were prepared with mountains of blankets and tents, no amount of preparedness was going to keep us dry.
anyway, after spending one dry nite in the hotel with our drunken host, we set out to find Juneydrak hermitage. He led us to one end of town and pointed us up a creak – literally. we took our shoes off to navigate some of the heavy rain flows across the creak, but luckily we had several plank bridges to cross over. Our one instruction was a foreboding: ‘dont turn left when you get to the forest.’ we stopped right before a forest and had a snack break and made a new doggie friend we named biscuit (because of the snacks of ours he was devouring). But, when we resumed, there wasn’t any marked left or right so we just continued on. Hypnotized we were by the soothing sounds of the brook, we continued following along the gradually sloping up canyon in the direction of Tibet (we could have just gradually ended up in Tibet, we have no idea), but we should have really been going up. About an hour or so later after we entered the forest, we decided unanimously we weren’t going where we should and to turn back to see if we could find the right path. Biscuit had been following us, but even he gave up on us. So we walked back, and lo-and-behold, found a path up the mountain. We arrived at a breathtaking vista and admired our good find, but agreed: we still were not ‘there’. We decided we needed to go straight up, and found ourselves zig-zaging on steep goat non-trails up to the top. Excellent views! but once again, out of breath, we all realized we still weren’t where we needed to be. so we went back down and found the humble trail snaking around the center of the mountain. Sure enough this lead to the hermitage. However, a sweater was hung up on a stick blocking the trail, so we thought this might mean ‘do not bother, deep meditation in progress.’ So we sent out our Bhutanese friend as scout to see if it was ok to proceed. As the remaining 3 of us were chit-chatting on the hillside we get an unexpected cell-ring: its ok to proceed (ah yes, he was too lazy to come tell us…modern technology!). So we continue, past tall prayer flags, through a chorten with spinning prayer wheels and up, hand-over-foot ,up a precarious rock face, through a ‘birthing hole’ in the rock, under a dripping sacred spring and finally arrive at Juneydrak – in even a crazier, precarious position than Tiger’s Nest, hugging onto the cliff face!
When we arrive, surprisingly there is a pile of shoes at the door. The tending Lama invites us in and offers tea and biscuts. He said we looked like we had really sacrificed and suffered to get there -he was impressed with our desire to reach the hermitage after he head where we’d been – glad we could give him a good laugh! We hear the chanting of monks from the temple room (ah, this accounts for the shoes). After about 10min a group of high level Lamas from Thimphu steps out of the temple into the sitting room, all of them with the same confused look on their face – I imagine them saying WTF where’d these guys coming from?! (if only monks used this expression : ) ha. expect the unexpected! Its good to learn lessons from each other. They all sit with us in the crammed sitting room/sleeping quarters/precarious room hanging over the cliff face, and we chat as they have tea before they head down the mountain. After they’re off, we head into the prayer room and enjoy a peaceful meditation and blessings, and being present with the footprint of the radical, revolutionary, female-saint Machig Labdrom (we’re in good company!). When we’re ready to leave the hermitage, we see the red robes of the monks already down at the base of the mountain – they must have taken the holy water and flown down, no other explanation.