Monday, July 3, 2006

Between Langar & Khargush

I left Langar in the late morning. Earlier I'd scrambled up a path behind the village in the hope of finding some petroglyphs, scratched pictures made by people who lived in the area several thousand years ago. I found some, however they had been vandalised with graffiti from modern times.

The road out of Langar was a horror. It was steep & of loose round river stones. I had to push the bike for a couple of kms. If I'd been able to magically end the trip then & there I'd be on my couch now. However I could either continue, pushing as during the day not a single car or truck passed that I could have hitched a ride with, or turned back & tried to get a ride from Large somehow. Continuing while not fun was the least disagreeable of the 2. In any case the road became much less steep & the surface improved.

I steadily climbed up to 3500m in altitude, 500m above the Pamir river gorge. The Pamir river was the border with Afghanistan. Downstream it joined the Wakhan river to form the Pyanj which I'd been following for the previous week. On the other side of the river rose the Wakhan range. Still visible in the direction of Langar were snowy peaks of the Hindu Kush. I was beside a pair of high peaks named in Soviet times after Engels & Marx that haven't been renamed yet.

It was a very quiet road with only donkey traffic & very little of that. There weren't too many places to go with this road. I saw only a couple of occupied houses near the road, though a greater number of abandoned ones. I passed an old roofless farmhouse by some abandoned fields, with the pattern of having been ploughed still recognisable. I guess farming at 3500m must be pretty unrewarding. I did however pass a few people along the road, including an old man who gave me some milk from some mysterious animals that he was tending, they were out of sight somewhere up the hill.

The only car I saw on the road came from the opposite direction as I was scouting a camp spot beside the Pamir river. It was filled with policemen, who were suspicious as to why I was wandering around the river & thus so close to Afghanistan. When I explained my intentions I was told I couldn't camp there. However seeing no other viable alternative I waited until they had left & set up camp as planned. I assumed, correctly, that they wouldn't return before nightfall.

My campsite at about 3500m altitude gave me a nice view of the snowy slopes of Engels Peak. As I was cooking the weather changed & I had my first proper rain while camping in over a month. It rather exposed some problems with my 'system', especially as there was also strong wind at the same time. My stove kept blowing out I ate alarmingly into my matches supply to get a rather unsuccessful rice dinner cooked, which I ate huddled in my tent. Not a great advertisement for camping, but I can say also not representative of those evenings so far.

I cycled 38 km in 5 hours & 24 minutes
Total so far 7917 km in 116 days
GPS Coordinates of end point - N 37°14.297, E 72°52.698

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