After yesterday’s very steep climb to Iskanderkul and a peaceful night at the lakeside in our tents, today we went to explore more valleys in this wonderful region. The whole area reminds me a lot of the Swiss Alps, with the difference that everything is around 1000 m higher and the valleys are much more remote and infrastructure like cable cars, hotels, etc. is basically non-existent. If I were not on a cycling tour through Central Asia, I would happily spend at least a week in these mountains for trekking and paragliding.
Waking up at the shore of a beautiful mountain lake on a campsite was wonderful. The waters of the lake were deep blue and in the background, steep and majestic mountains were rising, some of them still covered with snow and beautifully lit by the morning sun. It was completely calm as we were the only guests on the campsite.
The only negative thing that morning was: I woke up with back pain. My back most likely did either not like yesterday’s bumpy roads up to the lake or I was sleeping in a weird position in the tent. It is the first time since I started my tour 42 days ago that I have problems with my back, which for me is not so bad because my back can be quite delicate. But I did not let the back pain ruin my day and we proceeded as planned.
Cycling and hiking in Sary-Tag
After many days of cycling we decided that we will do a short hike today to get to see more of the region than just the view from the roads. And in order to do so, we followed the lake with our bicycles and at its end Lucie and I cycled another very steep 200 m up to a surreal looking wide valley on 2400 m with a village named Sary-Tag. Once arrived, we were hiding our bicycles behind a bush and started hiking uphill, first on a small path, and then simply through loose rocks as the path disappeared. The goal was to reach a mountain pass on 3300 m from which we could have had a beautiful view on Iskanderkul. But unfortunately the mountain got steeper and steeper and proceeding would have been too dangerous. At the same time rain was coming up from the west, so we stopped our hike after climbing 250 m and went down to our bicycles with which we rode down again to Iskanderkul and later on a bit further towards Dushanbe.
Tough test for my Tout Terrain bicycle
Cycling with a fully loaded bicycle on bumpy roads puts all your material to the test, and I have to say, my Tanami Xplore from Tout Terrain resisted all the bumps, rocks, and holes on the nature roads when going downhill 700 m on mostly non-paved roads. The bicycle felt rock solid and against my expectations it was actually fun descending on those paths, even or especially with a fully loaded bicycle. After that descent however I need to readjust the rear brakes or maybe replace the break pads to regain the full braking power. So far my Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes were however completely satisfying.
Sleeping in small village
While descending towards the main road to Dushanbe, the rain got stronger and when we stopped in a small village along the road. In the same village where we had tea with locals when climbing up to Iskanderkul yesterday, we were invited to spend the night in the house of a local family. This was very welcome because none of us felt like putting up the tents in the rain. And my back was also happy not having to sleep in a tent again tonight.
Max elevation: 2423 m
Min elevation: 1879 m
Total climbing: 656 m
Total descent: -979 m
Total time: 06:58:16