Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Day 189 (Tajikistan): Murgab - nowhereland (snow in the Pamirs - then sun - then snow - and so on)

Note: There has been an earthquake in the South of Kyrgyzstan last night and you should not worry about me. I would have been in the town that has been completely destroyed, but I am hundreds of miles away at the moment.

daily distance: 63km
total distance: 11,323km
riding time: 5-6h

I had decided to make for a late start because I didn’t want to bike too far today. The Aik-Baital pass was coming up and it didn’t seem like a good idea to have a go at it in one day out of Murgab, though it would be possible I guess. But it is also the highest pass during the entire trip, so I decided to make it in two days.

Some last minute shopping and some money changing (incredibly difficult despite the heavy transborder trade with Kyrgyzstan, no one seemed to have any Kyrgyz money nor have an idea where to exchange it which seemed more than odd) was followed by a late start. I didn’t have a good night - another reason to take it easy.

I passed a very moving cemetery on the way out and then headed North.

The landscape was as gorgeous as it can be, though forbidding at the same time. This area does need a bit more preparation to ride in, but it is all doable. Also saw my first Yak herd running around.

Then, after turning the corner, things changed to be a bit nasty. Heavy headwinds ensued. And then sidewinds. It seemed that every valley wanted to show me that it could take part in the game called “Beat that Markus”. And the temperatures dropped considerably. It was cold - bitterly so and then, a few minutes later, when the sun was out again, things were back to normal. Whatever normal is here.

I slowly moved on with the weather deteriorating considerably. I passed what was supposed to be the second to last water place for a while, having decided to fill up here. Good choice as the last one was dried up. That would not have been fun.

It went further and further up - the Chinese border fence running parallel at less than 10m at times. Not sure exactly what the deal is here. And I am sure that these pictures aren’t really appreciated. But just as I was biking up a narrow part of the valley, a big bird circled overhead, crossing over from Tajikistan territory into Chinese territory. I thought that this guy really does its thing without borders.

Now, from the pictures here you would think that the weather was good for the rest of the day. Far from it. After inquiring about the next few kms at the lone passing car that day (”the next town is Karakul”; no kidding, not what I asked nor within reach as it was almost 100km from that place) things got bad. The wind turned up badly, it started snowing and the snow that was coming at me reminded me of those days in Turkmenistan where the sand was moving towards me like snakes. Only that it was 50C colder.

I had seen a place to hunker down, not ideal but a decent one. For some reason I decided to move on and what a good choice it was. Things cleared up again after some time - and I spotted a place that would protect me from the wind and give me some sun in the early morning hours (hoping that the weather would stabilize). It was a bit higher than the road and just around 4250m. I didn’t want to go up any further anyway, figuring that the air was thin enough to spend the night there.

With the sun dropping I had a bit to eat (pasta, what else) - without any real problems concerning the altitude. I turned in, hoping that the sleeping bag would hold up as it should as the temperatures were going to be nippy.


There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

* Your email address will not be made public.
* Die Email-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht.