Mrs. Kirkland’s Backpacking Adventure to the Himalayas: An escape from stress and time with friends

A once in a lifetime adventure with beautiful mountains and the company of friends, monkeys, cows, sheeps, and donkeys


by Ashlyn Martin, Reporter

Imagine going to the Himalayas for 8 days with your best friend and seeing monkeys, cows, sheeps, llamas, and donkeys. Crazy right? 

Linganore High School English teacher, Mrs. Kirkland was able to live that crazy, beautiful, incredible dream with some convincing from her husband to take this once in a lifetime experience. 

Kirkland said, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but when I look back I’m so happy I went. Originally I wasn’t going to go, but my husband was able to convince me.”

When Kirkland went to the Himalayas there was no turning back. Kirkland and four of her closests friends went to this unbelievable, majestic place for 8 days. 

Kirkland said, “Out in the Himalayas I couldn’t just go back to my car at the end of the day. When I got to the hotel I found out that a donkey was going to be carrying my bag so I got rid of a bunch of my stuff, leaving it in the B&B.”

Donkeys carrying bags in the streets before escaping into a whole new world like the flick of a light switch.

A donkey carrying all of your stuff? A donkey in these beautiful mountains? Yes, and believe it or not these donkeys are some of the friendliest, comforting animals. Plus, the donkeys led the way most of the time. 

Kirkland said, “The donkeys led the way and tried to get ahead of us. When I got sick the donkey knew that something was wrong so he stayed all night with me.”

So, you’re probably wondering how Kirkland and her friends survived 8 days out in the Himalayas. There were people called Sherpas who set up the tents and prepared Indian food that was all ready by the time the adventurers were done at the end of each day. 

Kirkland said, “Sherpas made Indian food so when we came back after our hikes up the mountains our dinner would already be made.”

The Himalayas are known for their beautiful, tall mountains and being able to see the sunrise and sunset behind these breathtaking mountains is an unbelievable experience, but even crazier is seeing 100 sheep grazing on the mountain when climbing up to your destination.

Kirkland said, “On the first mountain we got to the top at sunset and there were 100 sheep there. It was like ducks or swans, they would come up and then leave.”

Goats and sheep enjoying the grass and living their best life up on a hill in the Himalayas.

Imagine seeing 100 sheep and then looking up at beautiful mountains, sounds like a dream, right? Kirkland was able to see and capture this beautiful view.

Kirkland was living the dream day and night. At night Kikrland and her friends looked up at the stars over these beautiful mountain and ate Indian food in their tents. 

Kirkland said, “We camped under the stars and ate authentic Indian food at the tops of some of the most scenic places. On the last day we had a big meal on the rooftop with the sunset. There were crystal blue skies, dotted with stars.”

Have you ever heard about a Dalai Llama interpreter?

Dalai Lama is a title/name given by the Tibetan people and is a wise spiritual leader. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who lives as a refugee in India. Tenzin Gyatso was interviewed by Harvard Business School professor and author where they talked about leadership and happiness. 

Kirkland said, “There was a Dalai Llama interpreter there who is really the wisest man that has ever lived, he’s magic, and he’s kinda a big deal there.”

India is known for their spiritual activities, unique places, crowded towns, and streets filled with people and animals.

Kirkland said, “We started at Dharamsala, it was so beautiful. Dharamsala was very touristy and hippy. The streets were filled with people and cows and trees were filled with monkeys. Cows walked around like humans and monkeys were not afraid of humans.”

A monkey was sitting on a bridge in the Himilayas.

Outside of this chaotic city there was an instant calming and sense of peace when taken one step out of the city and into the mountains.

Kirkland said, “The city kind of reminded me of a little town but with animals roaming around. There was chaos in the city with people and animals but when you walk into the trail, everything stops. All the chaos is gone, everything is settled, no distractions. I walked into a whole new world, it was like turning off a light switch.”

Beautiful mountain tops in the distance that take your breath away.

The Himalayas has places and people that allow visitors to unwind, release, and let go. Luckily, Kirkland brought along a friend, Toni, who was studying yoga in India and became a yoga instructor. Toni decided to share her talent and sit down with her friends in the Himalayas. 

Kirkland said, “One of my friends was a yoga instructor and she wanted to share it with us. It was out of my comfort zone but I think it’s good to have friends that push you out of your comfort zone.”

Kirkland said, “We were in the middle of a meditation and the yogi instructor said something like, “Be one with the Earth” but all me and my best friend could focus on was this fly that was buzzing around us.”

Kirkland and her friends before their meditation enjoying the beautiful morning in the Himalayas.

Though the Himalayas are beautiful, there is a serious side to visiting/living in the Himalayas. Kirkland learned from experience not to take all of your medicine at once before the trip, not the greatest idea. Kirkland got sick on the trip and so did one of her friends as well. 

Kirkland said, “Some days it was all about survival.”

Overall, Kirkland had mixed feelings about her trip to the Himalayas but she is glad that she went and was able to learn a lot from this experience. 

Kirkland said, “It was like a book, you don’t want to go back but you liked the experience.”

Kirkland letting go and feeling free with a smile and beautiful mountains in the distance.

When Kirkland was younger she enjoyed writing down about her day and kept a journal. So now, Kirkland is able to look back at her journals and remember some memories she may have forgotten about. Though Kirkland loved writing in these journals, she didn’t write in her journal about her trip to the Himalayas. 

Kirkland said, “If there was one thing I wish I had done, I wish I kept a journal because you think you’re going to remember things but years later you really don’t.”

Kirkland has big plans for what she is going to do after retirement and hopes to make a difference in the world.

Kirkland said, “When I retire I want to open a B&B in Vermont off the Appalachian Trail, learn about people’s stories, provide showers, food, and comfort. I’ve been doing research and I’m pretty serious about it.”

Though there is a global pandemic and covid is still an issue, Kirkland sees possibilities and positivity and looks on the bright side for 2021. 

“We need to remember to turn problems into possibilities.” said Kirkland.