From Murgab we started heading north, leaving the lovely tailwind behind us, and heading for the highest part of the road. On some parts we were just a few km’s from China.
We tried camping at an idyllic spot by the river, but the wind got really strong from 3pm and we ended up sleeping in a very dusty shed, thanks to a friendly sheep and goat herder!
We climbed for two days, a gentle gradient (until the end!) And into the wind. The end of the Akbaital pass was steep and unpaved, we passed the col sign (not at the top :s) and crawled up the hill. The views were amazing, massive snowy and rocky mountains all around us. It was incredible.
When I finally got to the top, after multiple stops to get my breath back, I was at 4655m! It was so cool. And Jim (who had been waiting a while) turned to me, told me to take out my headphones, got down on one knee, pulled out a ring, and asked me to marry him! I was actually so shocked I just kept asking if he was kidding, but finally pulled myself together enough to say yes! It was the perfect place for a Jade and Jim proposal. Tim then appeared up the climb and we shared some chocolate and had some swigs of whiskey before heading down the mountain.
The descent took us into a beautiful valley, the views were amazing and we kept stopping for photos.
That night we slept in our first yurt, it was warmed by a stove burning dried cow and yak pats and was lovely and cozy. It’s started dropping below 0°C at night now. This started a run of yurt stays which we really enjoyed!
The next day we continued dropping down to lake Karakul, an amazingly blue lake surrounded with white sand high in the mountains. It was too cold for a swim unfortunatly!
We followed the edge of the lake for a while before tackling the last two climbs of the Pamir highway. The rocky landscape turned grey as the wind and road surface got worse and worse. The climbs were steep and hard, but we made it to the border and said goodbye to Tajikistan.
As soon as we crossed the border everything changed. The valley and mountains turned green, and there was alot more snow at the tops. We dropped down into Kyrgyzstan via some nice gravel hairpins, and after 12km of no-mans-land found ourselves at the Kyrgyzstan border crossing.
After another easy crossing the valley opened up, and behind us we could see the mountains in their full glory. It was magnificent! We cycled across a plain, into the wind, with yurts and herds of horses dotted across the grass.
From Sary Tash we climbed again, up to the first Kyrgyzstan pass, at a low 3550 m, where we met some other cyclists, and the group grew from 4 to 10! It was great spending the next few days cycling with Maria and Jamie, Dosh, Sophie and Ollie and Ruth, as well as Adam and Tim. We were a big group! We dropped down a squiggly hairpin descent worthy of the Alps, and had lunch on a nice bit of grass next to a stream. Unfortunately the next lot of downhill km’s were directly into the wind, so we didn’t get the nice easy descent we anticipated, but instead had to pedal quite a bit!
We continued down the valley, enjoying leisurely lunches and big camps and campfires with everyone as we headed to Osh, but never losing the headwind. And encountered some unfriendly children who tried to kick us or grab the bikes instead of the usual hello and high five!
After Gulcha we had another big(ish) climb, winding up along the river before over the hills and then becoming three very big final hairpins. More great views and another long lunch at the top before the final push downhill into Osh. On this last stretch we kept getting held up by the shepherd’s on horseback herding their cows down the middle of the road. We arrived in Osh to find a very nice hostel, and are looking forward to few rest days off the bike. We need to plan the next stage of our adventure!
Jim’s words: Peaceful, Proposal, Yurt, Kyrgyzstan, Downhill, Headwind and Completed.