Tuesday morning we got picked up by Aynora our guide, after a healthy hearthy breakfast of fried eggs, man the yolks on those eggs are deep orange, native eggs yeah! home made bread with apricot jam to die for. We took a taxi to Isakeev village about 15 minutes from Kochkor where we started our hike up. it was hot and sunny and the dirt road which we followed for a bit is steeping gradually, lots of rocks which hurts when you step on them, a couple of creeks we need to cross too, it gets hotter and hotter until we arrived at the 1st yurt also a CBT yurt, they offered us snacks and a taste of kyzym a fermented horse milk drink that is popular among the locals. It started raining while we sat in the yurt, 10 minutes later it finished and we started to walk again, it got cold now so we need to layer up, the weather here changes drastically and we have to be ready for it. The walk is scenic, green mountains, rolling green hills, raging creeks/rivers, hills of many colors, just like how I remember Kyrgyzstan from 3 years ago. We started hiking
up a pass, it's quite steep and thankfully the rain stopped, we met a man on his horseback and told our guide the lake up top on the glaciers are still impassable, only crazy gringos will go there like me and Russ.
At the top of the pass we can now see Kol Ukok, it nestles between 2 steep slopes, in Kyrgyz it means "the lake in the chest" the maximum depth is 17m. As we walk we saw some marmots and their noisy warning calls made me think it was the birds who made them. Fantastic view of the valley below, lush green and you can see a number of stream flowing down the valley. Russ went down to Kol Ukok which you can see from the top of the pass while I went to find a private place to do number #2, it's very rocky here and lots of holes and I want to advantage of it. From there we started following the trail that follows the length of the lake, we see a diversity of colorful flowers, and wild herbs abound. The sun is not out yet still cold and a bit of wind blowing. It
is a long walk around the lake we passed a couple of yurts friendly locals waving at us, the CBT tent moved so our guide have to ask the locals where they are now, we ended up walking a good 10 minutes more past and across a few raging streams, and by now the weather has turned and rain started we saw the yurt from a distance we ran to get there quickly, we got soaked nevertheless, the CBT tent is only 2 yurts, we quickly go served food and tea by the kind woman who runs the show here with her daughter, we dried our clothes and socks and shoes next to the fire, it took us a total of 7 hours to walk to here, my feet were hurting and am just relieved we made it. After some bread and tea, it poured out rain again, Russ has to go to the toilet and when he came out he yelled for me to come out of the yurt, I did not believe him when he said there's an awesome rainbow, but he was making all these excited noise that when rain abated a bit I ran out with
my camera barefoot in the freezing cold grass I treaded and wow a magnificent giant rainbow encompasses the valley we are in, we took a lot of photos needless to say, and we can't believe our luck, seeing a magnificent rainbow in this weather.
Some members of the family, the men started coming back from the pastures, as dinner is served we chatted with them, we had a good soup dinner with sheep meat, it was amazing but the accompanying cabbage/carrot salad is salty. Anyway they have homemade bread and some type of churned butter that is for me the most delicious butter I have tasted, i was stuffed in no time. Quite tired too we waited a long time for the women to finish their chores and then they set up the men's bed in the other yurt, with no heat, me and Russ and couple of the boys in the family will share a cold yurt, we tucked ourselves in and it wa still cold, so we put on our thermals, we have a comforter and a thick blanket on top of us, meanwhile the young boy in the family going in our yurt, stripped down to
his boxers and went and tucked himself to bed, the 3 other men in the family did the same, we felt like sissies now! It was a cold night and I have to put on my wet socks which dried on my feet during the course of the night. Someone was snoring too, we think it was grandpa.
I woke up the next morning and Russ is not in his bed, as I forced myself out of bed, I saw just outside right in front of the door, grandpa is preparing his horse, putting the saddle and putting the finishing touch on the horse's back, the horse is so tame awaiting instructions and it made for a great picture. i got out of the tent and walked up the ridge behind the yurt and took photos of the glacier behind us, so gorgeous, but very cold, i was out of breath making it to the 1st ridge, we are about 3,500 meters here and I was gasping for air at the top. I needed to go to the loo so i found a depression where i can be hidden from public view and di my business looking over this
massive glacier, and rolling green hills below me, what a perfect view, mother nature's loo.
After breakfast we prepared to head out, the sun if fully out, bright and cheery, we started our descent down the steep valley, we came across the people from the other yurt near the lake, the kids were high fiving me, I took lots of pictures, with the colorful yellow, violet flowers on the rolling hills, the turquoise lake, the blue sky, just perfect. One kid rode his horse and went towards me and asked to have his photo taken so I obliged. the walk back is a long way again and 30 minutes into the walk, i felt my tummy churning so I have to excuse myself, I went next to the trail as I could not find a place to hide, must be the milk at breakfast, god damn lactose intolerant me! There was a man walking around downhill near a hut and so I casually did my business hidden amongst the bushes next to the trail.
Went up the pass ,it was very hot now, the grass though is still wet and so my boots got wet again and my
socks hasn't fully dried yet, through the 6 hours walk back I suffered with blisters forming on my toes, i feel the blisters rubbing against my socks, I just could not wait to finish the walk, i was relieved to finally come down the valley and see the small village where we started. 5 minutes wait then the taxi came to pick us up, we got dropped off at CBT to book the Song Kul trek, Russ went at it with the woman there trying to negotiate the price down for us, he was his usual mean self but it worked, i just stayed on a corner and waited out the arguments between them, when the dust settled, we paid our trip. A few other tourists waiting in the office, they are now slowly trickling back to Kyrg.
I went to find internet, Russ went to the back, the internet here is expensive you pay by the download, 5 megabytes per som so I have to be quick. When I finished I walked to the bank but Russ is gone , met him on the street, I pointed to him the internet cafe while I walk to visit the
Lenin statue, I sat down in the shade and immediately 3 young kids in bikes came up to me, what is your name? each one asked me, they befriended me and wanted me to take their photo, I said go to the Lenin statue and they ran to get up there, they were comical! I gave them a piece of my smoked sausage snack and they gave me sour green apples they picked from someone's backyard. I told them to go home, it's scorching hot but they followed me all the way to the internet cafe where I met Russ, from there we went back to the homestay but not until we bought this huge 9kg watermelon for only 100 soms(barely $3), I struggled to carry it back to the homestay, we missed our street! a young woman chatted with us in good English, she said Peace corp volunteers stay in their house.
We had a shower and packed for Song Kul, the grandkids are back from their play, they caught small fishes and are feeding them alive to the cat!, the middle kid came up to me and I taught him how to count again up to 30
CBT homestay, Russ ringing the bell
and some alphabet, he is very eager to learn so I took him aside away from the cat feeding frenzy, and taught him some more, I hope they remember their numbers when we are long gone.
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