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Published: April 6th 2020
Zimtut Village (1910m) to Chukurak Lake (2350m)
Wake early feeling average at best, no appetite. Breakfast arrives- bread and condensed milk (good), but then more breakfast arrives- oily egg/onion/tomato dish. Oh dear... Head up the hill with the 2 little girls to try and walk it off. There are a lot of donkeys arriving on the hill below me from the valley, they are all laden with massive dried grass loads and being driven by small kids with big sticks.
Load our donkey then, like breakfast another one arrives. We have 2 donkeys, I knew we were oversupplied 😊. Finally 3.5 hrs after waking up we are off. Donkey 1 is a good donkey, Donkey 2- not so much- he's naughty, flatulent and loud. It's hilly from the get go, lots of fully laden donkeys pass by, watching them go by gives me an opportunity to look back on the village (rest)- very picturesque. We are down in the valley after 40 mins amongst the green grass and surrounded by towering rocky hills. We reach a small village another half an hour later- I can't quite work out if Sharaf owns a plot
of land here or was from this village, but he appears to own some apple trees here (I think).
On, on and up - switchbacking and ascending, it's a hot and sweaty climb. Mohammed is constantly waiting for me, at 12 MD we finally reach 2650m. Come across a couple of goats which become 40 goats which continue to multiply as we climb. Sudden wave of nausea hits and I have a discrete vomit while the others up ahead discretely try not to notice. I actually feel a lot better after this and put on a sudden burst of energy to catch up. Mohammed tells me that we have been invited in for tea at the goat camp - "What goat camp"? Clearly the camp that all those goats are from. Clearly the goat camp people have a phone and Sharaf has called ahead- everyone here (except me) have more than 1 mobile phone on them. Anyways... the goat camp... it is desolate, dusty and dry land. There are a couple of Soviet issue tents and we are bundled into 1 of them. Tea turns into tea, sweets, bread and goat yoghurt. Throwing caution to the wind I down
Carrying grasses from down in the valley
my tea and entire bowl of yoghurt before the arrival of of a fully massive feast of plov (!!). I manage a small plate, there are what tastes like turnips in it and they are really good. A tiny semblance of appetite has returned! For over 2 hours we sat and then lay down in the goat tent in the middle of nowhere (I think I may have nodded off at one stage, Mohammed definitely did (he snores). It was the most truly memorable experience and I think it will stay with me for ever (even as I type this out 19 months later I can conjure up such vivid memories of it). During those 2 hours there were a procession of men visiting the camp but I only caught a glimpse of 1 woman and 1 girl as they shuffled back and forwards from the kitchen tent to this one. It was very much a feature of what was ahead- the women mostly in the kitchen, the men socialising and drinking tea with other men (and me).
As we set off the goats were being herded back into camp kicking up a massive dust storm- quite a spectacle.
Several herders and their dogs were involved in this massive operation. Then we clear the camp and are back to the business of hill climbing. A massive first day. The sweetener was spotting the first bright green lake at the top of the next steep climb- the Guitan Pass. We reach Chukurak Lake, where we will spend the night, just before 4pm- it is so incredible, so surreal. There are 2 other tents set up across the lake but no signs of people. By 4.30 our tent site is chosen and my tent is pitched. I am very determined to pitch my own tent (as I have so often before)- Sharaf and Mohammed are not at all convinced. It is very difficult pitching a 1 man tent with 3 people trying to pitch it! I ultimately win before taking a blissfully solitary walk around the lake towards the glacier. It is just beautiful. I love the greeness of the water. We're at 2350m according to my compass.
Feeling SOOOOOO much better.
Sharaf, after donkey tending duties, goes about dinner duties. I help with potato peeling but they are keen that I "take a rest", "don't worry", "you must
be tired", etc. Those who know me know that "take a rest" is a foreign concept, however I take the hint and go take a wash and rug up. The sun's setting, it's getting chilly, we are set up in Sharaf's tent by 6:20 with a potato, egg and onion concoction, bread, cheese and tea. It is SUPERB. A dog appears- we call him Max- why? no clue. A campfire is made by Sharaf. Food scraps to the donkeys. Bed time. The night sky is big and starry. I love my tent.
Feel so much better.
Tot: 1.831s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 18; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0084s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb