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Akbaytalpass – Murghab (8.- 10. Juli 2018)

We're leaving early today. We are about to climb to the highest pass of our journey, the Akbaytal Pass at 4655 m above sea level. This is one of our greatest challenges. Will we be able to reach this height with our loaded wheels, without headaches, without shortness of breath? Will we have enough strength in our arms and legs?

Over a long distance we drive into the valley leading to the pass. The ascent is still gentle. Along the road some flowers bloom in beautiful colours, otherwise it is very sparse. Each of us steps forward, absorbed in our own thoughts. All the way there is only one yurt, a little further away a homestay, nothing else. At the beginning we had considered whether we should stay overnight in the Yurte. But we are already there before noon, what should we do the rest of the day? So we decide to go on. In the meantime the road is no longer asphalted, the gravel road is bumpy, it has a lot of corrugated iron track. Concentration is required. The last 7km it gets steep. Whenever possible we drive, but sometimes the gradient is too steep, so that we have to push the wheels. At one of these gradients a bus with 3 passengers stops. One of them gets out of the car and approaches us. "I'm sure you need refreshment," he says and hands us a row of chocolates. The last few kilometres are no longer worth thinking of driving. Pushing is the order of the day. Actually, we don't like it anymore, our legs are heavy, we step up step by step. The already heavy bike feels even heavier. But we have no choice. Camping in this rocky terrain would be difficult and we don't want to spend the night at this altitude either. For the first time on this journey, I really feel like I'm reaching my limits. Markus seems to be a bit fitter, I always take a little break after short intervals. But how could it be otherwise: of course we make it to the top of the pass. Wow!

It's quite cold up here, grey clouds are hanging in the sky. Is it going to snow or rain? We dress warm, cap, buff, warm gloves, rain jacket and trousers. Now the departure can begin. The road conditions on the other side are a little better. A rapid descent is out of the question at this stage. The first 5km are still gravel, then the road is asphalted again. Nevertheless, it is very concentrated to drive. More and more it has potholes that we have to avoid. After about 30km of descent we look for a nice camping site. It could hardly be more idyllic: a stream flows in the green valley, beautiful mountain scenery, beautiful sunset - if only there weren't mosquitoes! We'll pitch up our tent, set up. Unlike China, we can make a fine pasta dish, have a warm tea, because we can buy gasoline here again. Although we are dead tired, we sleep poorly. The hot coffee prepared by Markus, which is supposed to awaken our spirits, tastes all the better in the morning. We still feel the tiredness of the day before. Thank God we have a relatively short distance ahead of us, mostly downhill to Murghab, where we stop several times to chat with the oncoming cyclists. Early noon we reach Murghab. We stay at the only hotel in town, the Hotel Pamir. It seems to be the place where all travellers meet, motorcyclists, groups, cyclists, hitchhikers..... 

As soon as I checked in, I go to sleep, I'm so tired. It's good to sink into deep sleep for a few hours after all those sleepless nights. At dinner we meet 2 familiar faces again, 2 Americans, whom we met in Karakul. It's a cordial reunion! 

Again a rest day is announced, after all we are not on the run. We walk through Murghab, visit the bazaar, of course. In contrast to other locations, the market stalls are housed in containers. This is easy to understand, as the locals also want to shop in winter, so a sheltered place for shopping is indispensable in these weather conditions. The rest of the day we spend with big linen, we buy some little things and...sleep.....

 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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