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Published: November 10th 2019
This is our supply jeep, we think it's fully loaded until it's actually time to go, at which point 6 porters, 3 chooks and a goat are loaded on too!
Sleep in Askole
Sleeping Altitude 3000m
Up early with the sun and really excited to be leaving. Today is a 140km jeep drive along the Indus River that becomes the Baldu and Basha Rivers as we home in on Askole (our campsite for the night). We are all ready after a last breakfast seated indoors at table and chairs for the next couple of weeks. All manage to be on time and deposit our spare bags with reception before heading out to see the jeeps being loaded and loaded some more. We are taking some porters with us from Skardu, they ride on the supply truck with 3 newly aquired and trussed chooks and a goat (!!!!!!), it is not going to end well for the goat... We bundle into our jeeps- Mary and I, Chisato and Fernando in 1 and the others spread over 2. We pick up the final member of our team as we head out of Skardu- Gen is staying at the K2 Hotel and we've heard a lot about him he has been elusive thus far. Gen looks strong, he is immaculately dressed and has amazing calves- really strong calves. Finally
Skardu is left behind in the dust. Our driver is a man of few words, zero in fact, for hours and hours. I score the front seat for starters (my preferred position). It's hot already, windows all open, it's a noisy drive but exciting as the road condition diminishes a little. We drive and drive and take a quick break in an unamed village to change a tyre. One of the porters is throwing up (motion sick in the back of the really bumpy supply vehicle). I offer up my seat- Fernando is now in the hot seat (literally, as the sun is blindingly hot through the passenger window). We cross a suspension bridge and things get a little bumpier (poor porter), the river is still with us.
Next stop is an army base, no photos, no photos. All of our permits are scrutinised while we hug the shade of the barracks in the 38 C heat. The soldiers are friendly, we use their toilets and are off in a cloud of dust. Chistao assumes the preferred seat, the next stop will be a lunch break. At 1045 we arrive at a little whitewashed restaurant/guesthouse with lots of tables
set up under the shade of apple trees. It is pretty idyllic looking. There is a group of English people there, they are all pretty exhausted having finished their trek, we over hear them saying that we won't be so relaxed and smiling once the hard work starts- eek, be still butterflies! Lunch is good- big platters of rice, chicken, vege curry, salads and big bottles of Coke and Fanta. An enjoyable first meal as a whole group, coversation is flowing more easily. The gardens are lovely, lots of flowers, butterflies (real ones) and bumble bees.
The next 2 1/2 hours become increasingly rougher, we all bump around in the back of the jeep, sliding to each side as we negotiate the massive pot holes and rocks fallen onto the road. We have one stop to clear off some boulders. The river is churning, it is all incredibly dramatic. Our driver is still silent- I can appreciate it though as the concentration involved must be huge. We reach the end of the road at 1:45, literally- there is no more road. Our driver speaks- he thanks us! We give the drivers tips as a group.The supplies are unloaded and
there are lots and lots of porters joining ours- like really lots! Tents have materialised and we set up our mats and sleeping bags ready for our first night camping. The tents supplied are 3 man for 2 people- luxury! I'm used to my Hubba 1 man, this feels palatial- I can almost stand up at the centre. We don't notice the condition of them too much, we're just all glad to be here. As we're an odd number 1 person gets a tent to themselves- Lynton the snorer scores. There's one poor tourist there- it is Owen (one of the Irish group), he's been sick since Skardu and didn't leave with the rest of his group in the morning, if he can recover overnight he'll come with us. Go say hi, give him some of my Ondansetron wafers and get him to take his Azithromycin. Wash hands copiously.
Take off for a walk into the village, it's very rural with lots of little kids running around. The women are mostly shy, the kids not so. Askole has a village museum that some of us go and have a look at. It's interesting, modern Australia is such a young
country, we don't have the relics of the past that cultures like this do. Mary's cough/wheeze intensifies post visit- it's incredibly dusty there- the Ventolin is useful. Head back to our campsite to our newly erected meals tent. Dinner is awesome- there is even chicken (one of the 3 from this morning- it died on the way - I steer clear of the chook.
Good fun night. Early night, trekking starts tomorrow!! I love sleeping in a tent.
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