Road Stories #21 – Failures! (Tian Shan Mountains, Uzbekistan)

Hiking near Chimgan, Uzbekistan - header

This was certainly not the way.

However, seeing as we didn’t see any other path we pressed on and up, and we were now essentially climbing up the side of a mountain.

Are we sure this is the right path?

Then the rain started…

Hiking near Chimgan, Uzbekistan

Hitchhiking to Charvak Lake

Charvak, UzbekistanWe didn’t really have much of an idea what to expect when heading north but we had conferred with Rafa, the hostel manager and he said that there was a nice walk over a pass somewhere in the region. Ania looked at some photos, thought she could recognise it, and we planned to make our escape from Tashkent. Spending time doing something, rather than sitting, waiting for our Tajikistan visas to start.

We took the metro to a road heading north but we were still very much in the city. Taxi drivers, as they are inclined to be, were not the most helpful and simply quoted outlandish prices. We asked everybody we could find how to get to a village just north of the city and eventually we found a marshrutka to a town called Chirchik and then another that would take us further north to a place called Gazalkent.

A village in the Chatkal Mountains, UzbekistanThe first actual hitchhike was a good one, with a guy who took us to the most famous hotel in the region. The Pyramid hotel, shaped as it sounds, had prices too high for our liking, so in spite of the falling rain, we turned around and headed back to the road.

We were wet, the rain was incessant and traffic was scarce. It took a guy in a run down, battered vehicle to finally come to our aid, as he took us to the next hotel, which although was a bit of a building site, was cheaper than the Pyramid and that was good enough for us. Well, we did regret it a little bit later when we went for a swim in the hotel’s indoor pool (fancy!) only for the power to die leaving us floating in the dark (not so fancy!).

Sun up and we were ready to attack our vague hike. We hitchhiked there no problem even catching a lift when stretched out on the floor while Ania ran back to get her camera. We got to where we thought, the hike would start which we thought we recognised by a gap between two hills. Scientific, it was not…

Charvak Lake, Uzbekistan

Charvak Lake, Uzbekistan

Hiking without a plan

Going for a hike in the Tian Shan mountainsWe walked along the road until we saw a path leading up towards the hills, that must be it, right? We walked past cows, hurtled their droppings and followed a worn track across the field. Then we had a choice, left, where there was a fainter path, or right, up to what looked like an intimidating climb up the mountain.

We went right.

Sweating profusely, hands raw from gripping, we had moved less than 50m.

But this must be the right way, I saw no other routes!

We climbed, we stopped, we pondered but we continued up. We reached the first flat piece of land and looked out. It was a beautiful sight, even if we were only 100m up but turning round 90 degrees brought home the magnitude of our mistake. The pass was still high above us and try as might to find it, there was no path leading there.

Bugger…. then the first drops fell and wordlessly a decision was reached. We started to descend the rock strewn cliff side, sharpish. We didn’t want to try it when water would be flowing.

So there is our adventure to the mountains in a nutshell. A laughable, humiliating defeat. Was it even the right pass? Who knows? But it beat us none the less. The sum of our escape from Tashkent was a swim in the dark and trip up and down the side of a hill. What failures!

Better luck next time, I suppose.

Hiking near Charvak Lake, Uzbekistan 2

written by: Jon

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