Bishkek and Ala Archa

The following morning we headed by bus back to Bishkek. The route took us along the northern shore of Issyk Kul with beautiful views to the south of the Tien Shan rising to the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Issy Kul is a large intra-continental lake formed by tectonic subsidence within the actively deforming mountain belt. 

When we arrived in Bishkek we located the accommodation - a strange place behind inconspicuous large metal gates. 

  The owner and his alcoholic ocd/hoarder brother lived there. There was a large yard where the brother pottered obsessively; apparently sorting and organising refuse and junk.


There was a large yurt for guest accommodation. Also containing some junk.

Dogs and cats living together.

The next day we headed into the mountains of Ala Archa National Park just south of the city for a couple of days walking and camping before we were due to finally part ways and, for Ruth and I at least, head back home.

We walked for a day south along a river valley into the mountains.

At the end of the day we found a place to set up camp for the night and celebrated Ruth's Birthday.

The following morning we headed off for a long hike to the head of the valley.

It was pretty tough going. We had to clamber over large rocks and cross very fast-flowing ice cold mountain rivers.

It was very, very peaceful and the air was incredibly crisp and fresh. There were no other people and we felt really alone in the mountains.

Apart from the wild horses.

The next day we headed back down to Bishkek.

We spent the evening in Bishkek and stayed at the same hostel again. Not much to report from Bishkek.

In the morning we said goodbye to Hannah. She headed off back to Karakol. Ruth and I took a bus to Almaty to take a flight back to Belfast.

Hannah went to Iraq for a holiday and we didn't see her again for several weeks.
When we got back to the UK we rebooted our lives. What happened next is for another chapter.

I finally completed this blog!

Two day treck in the Tien Shan - Karakol to Ala Kol

I am now writing these last couple of posts several years after the events. I never got round to finishing off this blog until now. So anyway, after our horse trek we went to Karakol to get into the mountains round there.

We found somewhere to spend the night in Karakol and the next morning it was easy to find an adventure tours company who helped us plan our trek and arranged for a vehicle to take us into the mountains south of the town.

We decided to trek to Ala Kol - a high altitude mountain lake.

This is the massive truck that drove us up into the forested mountains. It poured with rain. The truck left us in a highland pasture valley where the track ended. We walked a short way and started looking for somewhere to camp. It was getting towards the end of the day.

Even in the pouring rain the place was impressive.

So we found somewhere to camp. The rain eased off.

We followed the mountain stream to the lake at the top.

Climbing higher and higher towards the top of the mountain.
We began to wonder where we were going to reach by the end of the day and whether we would make it over to the other side before the end of the day. We were approaching the tree-line and if we couldn't make it over to the next valley before nightfall could we camp where there's no firewood?

We were already exhausted by the climb so far. The climb ahead looked even more challenging. It was hard to see a good route up and over.

The rote head looked a bit challenging and it was getting late. We began to worry about what we were going to do and where we were going to camp.
Then we saw some other people in the distance. We went down to see them. They turned out to be Simon and Amy who we had met before (in Armenia?).

We were all glad to see each other. I think we were especially glad to see them! They were campint there by the lake for the night and advised us to camp there too and then we could all continue together the next morning. That sounded like a great idea.

The next morning the air was cold and crisp and clear. The air was still and it was silent.

After eating something or other we packed up and together with our friends Simon and Amy we started on our way to the top of the ridge and then down the other side. There was a house down the next valley where we were going to stay.

It wasn't far to the top.

We had a short rest and took in the view, as you do. Its great to be on top of the world!

A view of a mountain glacier in the Tien Shan.

A beautiful sunny happy and easy walk down back into the woody valley where the trees are so thin and pointy. Everything points upwards like it's naturally constructed for the glory of God, like a great cathedral. But far more beautiful and so peaceful.

And we made it to the house where we spent the night. In the evening we ate well and even went to a nearby hot spring natural hot-tub in the side of a stream. Early the following day we headed down to Karakol by car.