Milarepa and A Handful of Sand

We stopped at a grassy spot near a stone house to spend our second night as we are now at 13,500ft in elevation and a gain of over 6000ft from our night at Zhangmu. We need short days to acclimatize. Towards evening we decided to hike up a rise behind our camp. It was a 1200ft vertical gain so our hike took us over 14,500 ft. The wind was blowing quite hard as we stood on the prayer flag covered summit. Fabric flapped in the wind as well as covered the rocky hilltop. Offerings of broken bits of porcelain and clothing lay scattered. I clasped my hands and said a silent acknowledgement and placed a coin on a rock as my own personal offering. Cold, I quickly hiked back to camp. That evening I asked our Tibetan guide the significance of the hill. It was created by Milarepa, the great Buddhist saint who picked up sand in the palm of his hands and let it fall back to earth where it created this mound of dirt as if the sky was a giant hour glass. Without knowing we had hiked up a sacred spot which was a very appropriate step on our journey to Kailash. Tibet