Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kyrgyzstan Trip Log: Day 3 - A romp in mountain pastures.

Often while I am looking out my window in Almaty, I wonder where I would end up if I were to just climb the mountains I see and then climb over the mountains behind those and the ones behind those.  The truth is, I'd probably end up dead because I don't have the training or the experience to pull off an expedition like that.  But if I didn't die, and if I was really, really lucky, I might end up walking down Grigoryev gorge toward lake Issyk Kul.

The third day of our trip was occupied entirely by a hike up Grigoryev Gorge.  The road we followed eventually turns into a trail through the mountains to Almaty.  Our guide told us that this particular trail takes 5-10 days to hike depending on the skill of the hikers but that they can't lead groups over the trail right now because the governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have not worked out how they will handle the visas.

This day was by far my favorite of the trip.  We followed a glacial stream through wooded hillsides and mountain pastures now empty for the winter.  The edges of the gorge were dusted with fresh snow.  Cool, clean air refreshed and energized with every breath and a glorious sun shone in a beautiful blue sky.

We walked along for nearly three hours, stopping to chat with a Kyrgyz cowboy in search of his errant herd, leaping across small snow-fed brooks cascading down the canyon walls, and stopping to take photographs of the breathtaking scenery.  At last, through the trees we spotted our lunch spot, a tiny Alpine lake, half frozen in the late autumn chill.  We found a stray glacial boulder, and spread out our feast.  There is no better way to spend a day than amidst the beauty and glory of nature.

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