Day 22 - Karakol to Tamgar:
We checked the coolant level in the morning to find that most of the reservoir was gone. Dave F noticed that part of the O-rings on the reservoir screw-cap were damaged, meaning that it wasn't holding pressure once the engine was switched off and so coolant bubbled out of the overflow. It didn't seem to pose any risk to the engine however, so we topped up the coolant level and set off as normal.
Karakol is the 4th largest city/town in Kyrgystan with roughly 60k people and sits close to the eastern edge of Lake Issyk Kol. Our plans for the day were to explore a couple of the valleys nearby, get some supplies and then camp for the night on the shores of the lake.
We'd brought all the essential equipment for camping - tents, stoves, firewood, 100 tea-lights etc. - but needed some BBQ-able food. It was market day at the central bazaar in town however, which in practice meant total gridlock (and another coolant dump onto the sidewalk). It took us an hour to find the food and drink we wanted - there
was no one-stop-shop - but the red-brown dust flying around did at least mean that I emerged with a bit of a tan.
Our first stop was at the Jeti Oguz Canyon to see the 'seven bulls' rock bastions. At the end of the row a final rock is shaped like a broken heart. I had left my memory card in the car for the short hike, but photos can be seen online with a quick search.
Once back at the lake we made for the shoreline for another stone-skimming championship and also a large rock-pigeon shooting competition. Dave F and I failed miserably, but John's ability to hit a flying rock with a small stone is unnerving.
Issyk Kol is the second largest mountain lake in the world, and 10th largest by volume overall. One slightly odd fact about it: Despite having no obvious outlets the water level is falling at a rate of 5cm per year. One theory is that it drains into the bedrock, but I believe that in fact it is the shoreline that is rising at 5cm per year due to travelling Brits chucking rocks around.
A further 30 miles around the lake we headed up into the Barskoon Valley for a quick hike to the waterfall. With steep tan sides, crystal clear streams and conifered slopes, the valley feels similar to Yosemite in the US. All is peace and quiet, and the stresses and minutiae of normal life don't seem to be able to enter.
Finally as the sun was setting into the west of the lake we set up camp on a small hilltop near the village of Tamgar, pausing to share a beer as the sun disappeared into the water. The disposable BBQ's we'd dragged all the way from the UK weren't very effective, so mot of the food was cooked on the stove. It only took us 45 minutes to get the campfire going (neither the just-chuck-it-all-on nor the sophisticated twig-lattice approaches worked), and having found a use for all 100 tealights (see pic) we lay and talked under the stars right through to the embers.
Tot: 2.213s; Tpl: 0.063s; cc: 6; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0397s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb