Month: August 2019

In the Shadow of Peak Lenin, Day 3: A Different Light

I wake up at 2 in the morning and need to use the bathroom, but I’m too lazy to get out of bed. At 5:30, I can’t take it anymore, and I finally decide to get up. The sun is just about to come up over the mountains, and a sliver of a crescent moon is hanging in the deep blue sky just above the snowy peaks. Nobody is up but me, so, after taking care of business, I walk around camp for a few minutes, taking in the beautiful pre-dawn scene at 14,435 feet. (more…)

In the Shadow of Peak Lenin, Day 1: Welcome to the Big Leagues!

We have been trekking in Kyrgyzstan for 23 days now. We have only four days left, and we have saved the biggest challenge and hopefully the best scenery for last. For our final trek, we will be hiking around Peak Lenin, Kyrzygstan’s highest peak at 23,405 feet. They say that Peak Lenin is one of the easiest 7000+ meter peaks to summit, but we have no interest in going that high. (more…)

Heights of Alay Trek, Day 6: Coming Full Circle

Today we will complete the 6-day loop known as the Heights of Alay Trek, and the day starts off with an unusual challenge. The blankets at this yurt camp are exceptionally heavy, and just getting out of bed is hard work. We feel like we are removing the lead vest that protects your chest when you get X-rays at the dentist office. Maybe the idea of those weighted blankets that are so popular now came to us from Kyrgyzstan! (more…)

Heights of Alay Loop, Day 5: Over Jiptick Pass

We have breakfast in the kitchen yurt this morning at 6:30, which is clearly too early for company according to the little boy in the camp. He has been woken up to make room for us, and he is crying when we come in. His mother gives him a bowl of yogurt to console him, and he turns his back to us hoping that if he can’t see us we aren’t really there. His sister is still sound asleep on the floor right next to where we are eating our fried eggs and potatoes. She doesn’t flinch the whole time we are there. (more…)

Heights of Alay Loop, Day 4: Yurt Chillin’

Today is, by design, a short day of travel as we move up the valley to a yurt camp that will put us closer to Jiptik Pass, our last big challenge, which we will tackle tomorrow. As a result, no one is in any great hurry to wake up and get going. Thankfully, even our host family at this delightful guesthouse beside the raging river does not rise early and enter our sleeping space. We got a full night of sleep last night, wake up naturally and even have some time to read quietly before anyone stirs. (more…)

Heights of Alay Loop, Day 3: Feel the Burn

We have a two-pass day ahead of us today, so we are eager to get up and going when the alarm goes off at 6. The family is already up and at work around the homestead when we emerge from our room. One of the sisters is carrying breakfast from the kitchen to the dining room, while the other is busy getting all of the kids dressed outside underneath a large tree that one of the kittens is using as its morning playground. (more…)

Heights of Alay Loop, Day 2: Knock, Knock!

Rob describes the yurts that predominate summer life here in Kyrgyzstan as stationary RVs, and he’s right in the sense that the yurt performs multiple functions in a single tiny space throughout the day. It is a place to sleep at night, of course, but it’s also a place to dine—for afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast— as well as a place to gather and converse. If it has a stove, it’s also the kitchen and, if necessary, a place to dry wet shoes and socks in a pinch. (more…)

Heights of Alay Trek, Day 1: Over Sary-Mogul Pass

It feels like I don’t sleep at all during the night, but, when the alarm goes off at 6, Matt has to shake me to get me to respond to it. My first instinct is to hit the snooze button, but then I remember that we are in a shared room in a tiny guesthouse in the remote village of Sary Mogul in Kyrgyzstan. We are starting a new trek today in the Pamir Mountains, and we are all eager to see what this new area will be like. We certainly have high expectations after our introduction to this range during yesterday’s spectacular drive to Sary Mogul. (more…)

Akotor Pass Trek, Day 3: The Pay Off Pass

After a brief afternoon rain spell yesterday, we are pleased to wake up to a sunny morning that’s not too chilly. After breakfast we pack up and set off uphill knowing that we have a long day that begins with Akotor Pass at 11,500 feet. The incline as we head up the valley gets our heart rate going right away. We are all in a good mood as today will complete Phase 1 of our trekking in southern Kyrgyzstan. The mountains in front of us are impressive in scale. I love how they subtly change shape and complexion as we walk slowly closer. (more…)