Altyn Arashan Valley
4th May four of us started few days trekking to Altyn Arashan Valley. We did not know how long it will take to walk through the valley and getting to the lake. We were predicting 2 or 3 days as everything depended on the weather conditions.
We have left half of our luggage at the Yak Tur hostel and before 8 we run on the local market looking for the transport. In order to save our time we wanted to stop 6 wheels car described at the guidebook and go 12 km in it (we heard that it goes 8 a.m. every day). Unfortunately we did not find it so we had to find Marshrutka. We took the bus 350 first and we got out next to the route that was leading to the valley. We were going to walk 4 hours but before that we had had the breakfast.
We stopped at the first suitable place. The tea, sandwiches and the view at the beautiful horses. At the end of our feast the taxi with two tourists has arrived. The driver asked from where are we from and he introduced his Czech’s passengers to us. During our conversation second taxi has arrived. This time only one man got out from it. He has a small rucksack, short sleeves and nothing else. He got the lead out without looking behind. I was laughing as he is going to conquer the valley in Alpine style.
Meanwhile when we finished our food we went together with the Czech’s people. The beginning of the route was flat and muddy. After few meters the hill started growing bigger and bigger. The mud moved over to the rocks. The girls imposed fast tempo and our group stretched at hundreds meters. Everybody was going on his own speed. Meanwhile we caught the ‘Alpine speed guy’ and he turned out to be Swedish. He seemed to be nice guy. I am not talkative especially with the people that I have not met before. We greeted each other.
I was happy although we have been marching for 4 hours. I was tired but I was glad that we were walking. The beautiful views, the lake and wandering horses. The weather was quite bad. It was chilly but the Sun was shining. The Sun turned to be treacherous as we burnt some burnt of our bodies. After few days skin from my ears a, from Piotrek’s head and Bozena’s nose started coming off. Karolina was not affected at all.
Yak Turs Pension
When we got to the valley we stopped at Yak Turs Pension something like shelter. The dining room, the fireplace, few rooms at the first floor and sauna that can be rented. They also had hot springs. I drunk my tea and asked what the weather conditions were going to be by the lake. The forecasts were not good and two French people who tried to get there before us failed as there was a layer of snow. I confirmed with the hotel’s owner one essential thing – namely where the hot springs were located and how we can find it?
Six of us (including Czechs we went to find them and check how they look like. They were covered with concrete water tanks located along the river 1 km from the hotel. Few of them very quiet funny in a heart shape. They were small, shallow and a lot of tadpoles. The bigger ones were not better – also they were shallow and were not big. The last hot spring ‘Cave’ (the owner was calling it this way) was big, under the roof and except water it had growing algae with the frog :). I knew that this story will have the different end as I was not going here not to rest in a hot spring water. I went to the basin and suddenly I slipped, fortunately nothing bad happened to me.
After more detailed examinations it turned out that water that was pouring into the tank was drained through the plughole. It started scouring the algae using my shoe so we decided to remove it by using self-made broom made of needle-leaved branches. Our sophisticated plan was also to use some plastic bags in order to fill the tank with the water from the river. All in all everything worked out. The draining was blocked by the plastic bag and the stone. There was no much left except waiting till the tank will be filled out with the water. We assumed that the tank will be filled with water in 4 hours.
We came back to the shelter. We pitched our tents and prepared our lunch using the camping stoves. We had cous cous, walnuts, bean, tomato paste and caviar. All of it was like little drops of heaven. When the meal was finished the girls went for a walk in the valley, we decided to go to the ‘Cave’ to collect some wood for the fire camp. There was the wood lying on the hillsides and in a short time we picked quite a lot of it.
The power of water
The frog was set free and unfortunately it was not a princess :). The basin fully filled out. We have not been thinking long – we went into it. The water was hot and our morals rose up to 100 points. The small thing but makes you happy. After a while we heard coming up voices. I thought that it will be funny as we were naked without any towels with us. These people were Jana and Pawel (Czechs). We did not have to convince them. They undressed and joined us.
When the recovery process was completed we were afraid of leaving our little spa so I decided to stay alone and keep an eye on it. The rest of them were going to bring me a dinner, clothes and potatoes that will be baked at the fire camp. When they were absent I started the fire and prepared the circle made of stones. We had a plan to put hot stones into the basin to raise water’s temperature). When the 1.5 hour passed I was given a small soup portion. I did not expect such a small portion :).
The girls did not decide to have a bath with us. After a short break they went to their tents to sleep. I and Piotrek have not refused ourselves few hours of sitting in the basin. The fire camp was quite big and the stones were hot enough to raise the water temperature. The evening was celebrated with the Kirghiz cognac and baked potatoes. They burnt but were tasty anyway.
About 11 we went to our tents to sleep. The sky was full of stars but the night itself was very cold with some snowfalls later on.
The way back to the Karakol
We woke up freeze to death what is more the girls had little accident as they tent including the sleeping bags, shoes and some clothes have been flooded. They informed us that after the breakfast they were going to go back to Korokol. We did not have anything against it but we wanted to stay one day longer in the mountains. We agreed that the day after tomorrow we will come back as soon as possible and we will go to the Jeti Ogush.
The plan of trekking to the lake did not work out. Accordingly to what French tourists told us (later on it turned out that they Russians) there was still some snow on the valley’s side. It could slow the march and made it more difficult. After all details received from them we decided not even think about going there. We were not even prepared for the snow and we honestly do not like the snow on May.
We said goodbye. I and Piotrek decided to walk 3800m. The Czechs had a similar plan but in fact we went separately. We took only one rucksack with the food and water. Without any map we started the journey walking on the ‘Goatish path’ that was not in fact a trail. On our way back we saw some woodchucks and even the rabbit :). We walked through the wood and we got to the forest glade but from the other side of the mountain where we should be. We did not want to go back. Piotrek had wet boots because of the dew (they were making his life as a misery from the beginning to the end of the journey). We had little break for a tea and rest.
After an hour we started walking again and this time upward through the bushes. We were scrambling to the highest point of the mountain. After 3000 m I was exhausted and had enough :). So, we had second break for some food and sunbathing as this time the weather was very good. Piotrek also let it go but he was taking me to the top as he did not want to come back going the same way. He was saying ‘Come on, let s walk few meters more, it will be fine’. When I thought that was the end it was getting higher and higher. I was not in a mood of walking I had enough.
The second side of the slope did not look as bad so I started walking down. There was not a tragedy but at one moment I thought that we were trapped at the cliff. We completed the most dangerous part of the trail safely. Czechs were also going down from the hill and I saw them from the distance. We waited for them. They said that they almost went to the highest point of the hill but they let it goas Pawel was not feeling good.
When we came back to the shelter we cooked cous cous, added walnuts, bean, tomato paste and we had some bear from the shelter. The caviar has finished so the food was not as good as previously. It was a short siesta and after that we went to the ‘Cave’. Our Czechs friends have already been there. The Australian joined them (I do not remember his name). He started his few months journey through Asia. He was going to buy a horse and travel through the country. This option was in my opinion interesting but your butt should be though :).
After the bath all of us decided to have a sauna. We asked the owner to prepare it to be ready in the evening and also I asked him to figure out the transport for me and Piotrek.
Sauna was interesting. It was very small and always one of us had to stand. There were no any mudroom and not much wood so the temperature was not high. It was totally different than the sauna I have been in Suwalszczyzna. Even though it was quite interesting and nice event .
During the sauna session it started raining, the temperature outside dropped down drastically. We decided that we will be sleeping at the room where Czechs and Australian were staying. We were sleeping on the floor.
There was a part taking place on the ground floor next to the fireplace. A group of some Russians came there. They had a lot of food, alcohol and the aggregate (there were no electricity at the shelter). It was raining so they kept it inside. The exhaust fumes from this device were palpable in our room and ‘helped’ to sleep. What was my happiness when I heard the no rhythmical sound of the engine. I was hoping that will not add any more gasoline into that. Luckily the engine stopped working and nobody turned it back on again. I think that they were not even able :).
Even while being in the building we felt that there was quite cold. I woke up and I felt like I was sleeping in the freezer. Piotrek has not been in the room already. He evacuated himself downstairs and he said that I was snoring very loudly. He aslo said that even punching me did not help. I think that exhaust flames can be blamed not me :).
Altyn Arashan Valley – Karakol
After breakfast we were waiting for the transport. Czechs decided to go by the Jeep. All in all there were 7 of us. The driver and the couple from the yesterday’s party were sitting on the front, me, Piotrek, Jana and Pawel on the front. It was unforgettable ride (Altyn Arashan Valley – Karakol, time 2 hours with the short break included, the price 300 som per person).