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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Asianrider, Apr 19, 2019.
Those panorama shots!
You'd reckon they let you shoot a Kalashnikov if you'd ask?
Wonderful RR and tons of amazing pics. Thank you for taking the time to bring us along.
To come back from Skardu I took the main road, that follows the river, so no pass. It's pretty scenic, but also in very bad shape, and very slow. So I decided to leave very early.
It's about 150 km from Skardu to KKH, but it takes easily 1/2 day - more if you're in a car and stuck in the roadwork.
They are working on it, though, but not in a big way so it'll take years to improve the road, I guess.
Shortly before joining up with KKH, I decided to go explore a side valley, called Haramosh. It's a dead-end for sure, but it should be nicer than the big highway.
Ouch ! it's crazy steep and in a very bad shape. I didn't crash it, but only just.
There are big holes to climb into and large rocks to avoid. I'm suspecting the start of the road is meant to discourage small bikes like mine to venture into the valley because after a couple of switchbacks it's already much better.
But the rewards are there. The small road cut into the cliff meandering up the valley, it's just beautiful. And impressive engineering.
Two guys are working on the road with a tractor. I guess, as in other places, the government is paying local guys to maintain the road, without giving them much machinery.
The road is not very difficult here, but make a mistake and you fall off 100 m into the river. So it sure keeps you awake !
Isnt't that what we're looking for ?
The road isn't very long. I arrive at a small village called Dasso.
I try to continue to the road end, but the trail becomes much worse, to the point that I decide it's pointless. So I return to the last village.
There I see a few guys discussing. One of them knows some broken English. He asks me where I come from, where I'm going etc... Then he goes: "Do you wan to go hike ?" And I'm like, yeah, that would be good for me to stretch my legs and do something else. The guy is looking for a client to guide, which is good. I'm not in great shape, physically, so I ask for a short, easy hike. "No problem, very easy, only maybe 4 hours". That sounds good, but it's already late in the afternoon. "No problem, you can stay at my house".
There's no guesthouse in the small village so it's just his family house and as usual I'm given the main room to lay down on blankets. I work out a reasonable price for the 3-days tour and the accommodation and after a nice dinner and the ususal small talk, I quickly fall asleep.
Little did I know that the Pakistani idea of an "easy, short" hike isn't exactly the same as ours. So the next installment (when I have time) will be devoid of motorbikes but still adventurous in a different way.
Haha short easy 4hr hike is universal for death march!!!
anyone seen this man,near a month now?
Wasn't he off on another ride for a while and he was going to finish upon his return from that?
Thought he meant writing about his hike. Hope all is well!
Yup, I was off the grid in remote parts of Kyrgyzstan. Such a great place, BTW, but that would be for another RR. Oh well, a couple of random pics won't hurt...
Even though Kyrgyzstan is very close to Northern Pakistan, the landscapes and the people are totally different, another world.
End of the hijacking, I'll get back to Pakistan asap.
That first picture is incredible! How can they possible keep all of that scree off of that road? That amazing!
Please keep the photos coming!
Yeah, it sure beats the Stelvio pass, doesn't it? in fact, there's a mining operation on top of the pass, so they have to keep it open for 25-tons trucks to bring that coal down to the main road. Otherwise there would only be a mule path there. In fact, the guys invited us in their luxurious diner-trailer...
But enough of Kyrgyzstan. Let's go back to Pakistan.
Sorry about the hold-up, here we start again.
Today's hiking day, the bike will take a well-deserved rest. We wake up at 7 and have a quick breakfast with my host. At 7.30 PM we leave the house and head for the mountains. We stop to buy a few cookies, what else do you need for an easy 3-4 hours stroll?
We follow the road for a while, then take a path that follows the water channel that's dug mostly into the cliff. Every family of the village is responsible for the maintenance of a stretch of the channel, so everybody chips in. Nice organization. And that means that for the purpose of maintenance there needs to be a footpath next to it.
After a couple of hours we meet a bunch of guys making their way up as well. One of them speaks pretty good English, so that's a relief because my guide keeps trying to talk to me in broken English and I struggle to understand 1 out of 4 words he says. So from now on, he can speak with other guys and I can concentrate on my walking.
After 3 hours and 700m altitude gain, we reach a high pasture, where my guide's father is living. We stop here to have some rudimentary lunch. At this point I'm pretty knackered, after all, 700m climbing for a guy who otherwise sits on his ass all day long is a pretty good walk. But my guide says we should keep going. I ask for how long and he replies "1 or 2 hours". Okay...
The path gets steeper as we climb the lateral moraine of a glacier. The view is great but I'm pretty exhausted so I'm really looking forward to reaching our goal for the day. Finally, we stop in a nice grassy spot where a little cabin stands. Alas, it's just a prayer break. We keep going. We're now at 3000m altitude over the glacier, and although the view is great I'm not enjoying it as much as I should.
Yeah, that's ice down there all right, mixed with gravel and sand so that it looks brownish.
Now we need to climb down to the glacier, cross it and climb back on the other moraine. Did I say I'm knackered ? well, I'm over it.
Every year the path is different as the glacier moves. Actually, the path changes several times during the season. So there's a fair bit of walking up and down and around boulders and ice blocks.
Eventually, step after step, we reach the high pasture where we'll sleep. This place is called Kutwar and it's a pretty incredible place I must say, very green whereas below in the village there are barely a few patches of grass growing. Here the plateau is occupied by many huts and quite a few people tending the cattle.
All around me are high mountains from which several avalanches come down in the space of a couple of hours. Very impressive! Fortunately, we sit behind another glacier, so there is no risk for the inhabitants.
Another km or so and we finally reach the little hut occupied by my guide's mother. She's living here alone during the whole summer, with infrequent visits by his husband or his son to bring some food.
So what started as an easy hike ended up as a grueling, 8-hours and 1300m altitude gain trek. I'm pretty pissed at my guide and try to explain him why but I don't think it registers. Those guys are well trained and for them, it's just another nice day. They have no idea that other people may not be as fit.
Quite the idyllic setting, isn't it?
The weather isn't great but I manage to get a few pictures of the sunset before ingesting a kind of soup and a piece of dry roti and slumbering into my sleeping bag. Tomorrow's another day.
spectacular!!!, thanks for sharing
Incredible. Worth your suffering for sure. For me, at least. :) :)
Welcome back! I keep finding it amazing that you're not just scraping the surface of an area and passing through, but really dive in deep! That second to last picture looks like from another planet!
beautiful people. beautiful vistas.
Yeah, I wasn't expecting much when I started off but the place it really out of this world. Well worth the detour, although I could've done it in 2 stages !
Thank you for sharing your ride, your adventures and your story in Pakistan. If riding in the Leh, Ladakh, Spiti Valley and Nubra Valley area is NOT on your radar or list, i would strongly suggest it. Similar to Northern Pakistan, the people, culture and riding is beyond best in the world. (I just spent a few weeks there)
Fascinating, thank you so much for sharing this adventure with us.
The next day I wake up still worse for wear, but not because of booze of course. But it's a beautiful day and the glaciers are making quite a show.
There's a lake up there that's beautiful: Kutwa Lake. It's kind of famous here in Pakistan and it's true that it's very attractive, surrounded by glaciers.
We then proceed to the main ground, where I finally find out why we met all those people going up: they've organized a festival up there. That's just a coincidence, I had no idea. But some officials have made it up there and I'm part of the attraction. They sure didn't expect a foreigner to be here, so they ask me to say a few words (not sure how many of them understood English).
They've made a ton of food in a centralized kitchen and everybody queues up to get some food, me included. I try to communicate but most didn't to school long enough to learn English. Urdu is the lingua franca in Pakistan, and everybody is pretty surprised that I don't speak it.
The afternoon is spent playing games - cricket obviously, but also volleyball. Greatest volleyball pitch ever!
This time, I pitch my own tent near a group of other tents. It rains during the night, and the next morning is gray and cold.
But that doesn't matter, it's time to climb down to the village.
As you can imagine, the return trip is much less painful, so we're back in the middle of the afternoon, I jump on my bike and head back to Gilgit.
Well, easier said than done. First off I need to get down on that crazy steep and precipitous road, without crashing the bike...
... or crashing into an oncoming jeep.
By the time I reach the Skardu - Gilgit road, the sun is ready to set. I need to rush it if I don't want to ride in the dark (but with a 150 it's just wishful thinking).
But at least I won't have to spend the night outside, like those happy campers...
Who just opened up their bus' engine on the side of the road, just like you would fix a puncture... incredible!
I just forgot one detail: my main light's bulb is shot, so I make the last few km in pitch dark, some of the scariest ride I've done in the whole trip !