Four of us trekked up above Bhagsu Nag on Sunday and crossed a ridge below Triund for spectacular views of McLeodganj, Dharamshala and Khaniara. The trek, which begins at the Shiva Café just above the Bhagsu waterfall, makes a pleasant – and shorter – alternative to the Triund trek, which can get a bit overcrowded these days. It began with a sharp climb through forest, where a number of locals were gathering fodder and firewood, before levelling off to traverse around the ridge to a couple of clusters of stone huts used seasonally by shepherds. These included some well-maintained shrines to Shiva. We then crossed the ridge to get great views of the Dhauladhar (still snowless in early December, and the snake-shaped glacier is looking somewhat diminished) and the village of Khaniara with its slate mines. Paul Doherty, Senior Staff Scientist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, entertained us with tales of expeditions to Antarctica and the Andes, and solved the mystery of why local slate is so highly regarded – being fairly advanced in the geological cycle, it has a high schist content, which makes it stronger than ordinary slate. Paul is in town for a month to teach in the Science for Monks program, and will present a paper on the boundaries of science to the Cosmology and Consciousness conference, taking place at Upper TCV 16-18 December. Also on the trek were Bryce Johnson, Science for Monks co-ordinator, conference organiser and Staff Scientist at the Exploratorium, and Tenzin Tamdin, a translator at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, who is translating for the workshop. The route offered great possibilities for landscape photography, and I fully intend to explore it further when I get time.