Day 112: A tough walk
Jety Oguz Travel Blog› entry 155 of 260 › view all entries
Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Tim & Wim (Belgium)
And so we finally went on a trek. For months I have been saying I should start practising for the Himalayas but so far I haven't really done much at all.
I managed to hire a tent at CBT without any problem. They had several available and they didn't even need a deposit. Just why they stick to Soviet opening hours and don't open seven days a week during the high season is beyond me. Anyway, I was glad I had a tent, even if it was a three-person tent which added a considerable amount of weight to my already heavy backpack.
I had packed as light as I could, but with three days worth of food and the tent the pack seemed as heavy as it is with all my clothes and possessions in.
We took a taxi to the mouth of the Jeti-Öghüz canyon, which lies some 25 kilometres from Karakol. The Jeti-Öghüz canyon is characterised by a set of flaming red sandstone cliffs. Despite the clouds the bright red cliffs looked stunning.
It was a pity our trek would go in the other direction, so the cliffs were behind us, but we stopped to turn around plenty of times on the way.
After we had walked for a few hours we passed a small yurt camp. We stopped for a little rest and were approached by a man who lived at the yurt. If we wanted some lunch? Well, we had decided to have lunch a little further down the road, but then again, this is the livelihood of these people, so we decided to have our lunch break a little earlier.
Well, for me that last proper meal wasn't too nice, as we were served liver kebab, and I don't like liver. Fortunately there was plenty of butter tea and bread, so at least I wouldn't starve.
We set off again and soon the track began to climb steeply. Boy, this was a bit harder. I had already noticed at Song Köl that I'm not really good at walking uphill and with a heavy bag on my back this wasn't any easier.
Within a few hours we had climbed from 2200 metres to 2800 metres and the altitude started to trouble me as well. Although I had been at much higher altitude in Tajikistan, I had not done any walking with heavy backpacks in Tajikistan. It was really breaking me up.
The point came where I wasn't enjoying myself any more.
I spotted flat and sheltered spot on the other side of the river. Mark had mentioned we had to walk a bit further to a log bridge and then back to a great camping spot. This seemed to be it. But how much further to the log bridge? I figured we could actually ford the river here.
Tim agreed, but Wim wanted to continue on to see where the bridge was in order to get an idea of how far we were from the start of the climb to the pass (tomorrow we would have to do a steep 4-hour climb to the 3800m high pass).
Wim left his backpack and walked on along the river, while Tim and I made an attempt to ford across.
Ouch, bad idea. The river was a lot deeper and faster flowing than we had anticipated. And colder too! Stripping off to our underwear we walked through. We're both quite tall, yet we couldn't keep our underwear dry - we were up to our crotches in the water. Careful as to not fall over, we waded through the icy cold glacial melt water and made it across. I immediately changed into my thermal underwear in an attempt to warm up again.
We set up our tents and waited for Wim. I started cooking dinner, while Tim made a small fire. Yes, I know, responsible trekking means no fires, but since there was a small fireplace at the camp side and firewood lay next to it, we figured it would be ok.
In any other situation the camping would have been fantastic. The surroundings were beautiful, the glow of the setting sun reflecting on the snowcapped mountains in the distance magical
However, I was absolutely exhausted, making it hard for me to enjoy. Today had been a really hard day. Too hard, in fact. I had no idea how I was going to survive the next two days.
I watched the full moon rise over the mountains and then retired to my tent. I must say I slept really comfortably in my little tent. The grass was quite high at our camping spot, making it very nice and soft to lie down on. No sooner did I hit my sleeping bag and I was unconscious.