Song Kul Horse Trek
Song Kul Lake, yet another high altitude lake, @ 3016m in the Tian Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan. 29km long, 18km wide and with a maximum depth of 13.2m. It freezes over between November and May. Translated from Kyrgyz, it means Last Lake.
Song Kul is used by the shepherds from the Kochkor, Naryn and At-Bashi regions as a jailoo - a summer pasture.
Top of the first pass on day one. Horse already needed to be towed.
Kitted out for the horse trekking with my hiking boots, long pants from the cook at Altyn Arashan (she let me use them for the Ala - Kul trek cos of my sun burn and then said I could keep them), long sleeve top, ultra light gloves, cap, sun glasses and neck cover. The Alpine sun here is as brutal as it is in the Swiss Alps. My bag, carried by my horse, contained sleeping bag, warm clothing for the evenings and snacks. My broken day pack contained wind proof jacket and water bottle. Such luxury not having to hike.
A rare moment when my horse is free to walk alone. It did not last long.
Days End at the yurt home stay @2600m
The first night we, me and 2 fellow Brits and our guide, yurted in a high alpine jailoo. Staying with the family, in their summer home more than 2500m high. A long way from the city, yet cell phones still beeped. Sitting cross legged on the floor slurping a soup meal washed down with endless chai. And later sharing my vodka with the father and another herder. A dreamless sleep under heavy blankets.
Amazing views across the mountains from the first nights camp.
The second morning, my horse had to be again towed up the long long pass, as he had another agenda on his mind. It's common practice to name horses but mine was not worthy of such class. I had to swap horses with the guide who himslef had to wrestle a fair bit with this stuborn beast. An hours fast climb brought us to more than 3500m high with splendid views across valley and mountain. Then down hill all the way.
My horse riding experince is limited to a 2 day trip (2 hours in the afternoon and 2 hours next morning - how they can ever call that 2 days the mind boggles) a long long time ago, probably around 1987. So you can say I am a complete beginner... All I remember is that I could not canter then, and I sure as hell can't canter now. The stirrups were too high and my legs spread wide. The pain in my knees was unbelievable. And I developed a John Wayne walk.
End of the second days riding and was very relieved to get off. I can't say I wanna ride a horse again.
Camped, once again in a semi nomadic yurt camp, more like 'yurt city', there were so many, on the shores of Lake Song Kul.
Journeys End at Lake Song-Kul.
Despite the fact that the lake sits at more than 3000m, it was still ok to take a bath.
We set alarms for 1am to view the stars. The milky way so clear. Zero light pollution. Beautiful.
And as I took a leak, a shooting star.