I would like to start this post by saying what a skilled, amazing, talented rider Dean is. Over the last few days we have had rain, wind, snow, ice, hail, thunder, mud, water crossings, cows, horses, dogs, sheep, missing bits of road, gravel and massive puddles and not once has Dean lost control of the bike and fallen over. There have been a few close calls and some screams from me but amazingly we have stayed upright. Sure, there were some moments when Dean forgot what side of the road he was supposed to be riding on whilst having on coming traffic racing towards us but he soon came to his senses, remembered we were no longer in India and swerved to the ‘right’ side of the road!
So the last few days we have had all of the above… And we have been so cold and wet.
After spending our first night here in Naryn we rode up to Song Kul lake. It was a stunning ride and we have never stopped to take so many pictures. There are horses running around freely in the green fields (So beautiful), healthy cows chewing on the grass (a far cry from those in India!) and herds of sheep everywhere. The photos and words can’t justify how beautiful and idyllic it is here… Everywhere… Completely untouched.
Upon reaching the lake where it was about 3500m above sea level it started to rain… And it was cold… Around 2 degrees… The clouds obscured any view and the lake was iced over. We needed to get off this mountain!
We finally made it down to 1000 metres and it warmed up to about 7 degrees so we stopped and had a picnic lunch off the side of the road on some lush green grass with a gushing stream and surrounded by cows.
The rest of the day was up and down mountains, rain, mud and puddles and always cold… But still, always beautiful. We finally made it to a small town where we found a place to stay. It had an outside toilet and shower which I wasn’t too happy about considering the temperature, but we didn’t have much choice and we were drenched and covered with mud… We were lucky she even let us inside although she didn’t look too happy about it!
Despite the hard day we were happy that we were only a couple of hundred k’s from Osh, a small city we had planned to spend a few days. It wasn’t long however until we found out that the road we had planned to take was closed due to bad weather and the only way to get there was back the way we came, an extra 1300 kms up to the lake and further north to get to the main road and come down the other side… We were devastated as we knew that snow and thunderstorms were forcast for the following day… Awesome.
The next morning we ground our teeth and headed back the way we came. Going backwards is such a disappointing feeling. After a day of convincing yourself that no matter how hard it is you are making progress, to go backwards is just so sad… It’s hard to justify it in your head anymore!
Thankfully the forcasted rain and snow held back for the first part of the day and we started to feel hopeful that we would make it over the pass before it would hit… Oh…. Way too soon…. Just as we got to the pass it hit… And it hit good and proper! Strong winds, snow, hail and rain… With our visors frosted over it was impossible to see, and when the visor was lifted the bullets of snow stung out faces… And then we came across a piece of road covered with snow – shit.
I jumped off and ran ahead to see how far the snow went while Dean tried to get off the snow without falling or going off the cliff. I saw that there was an end to the snow and we found a way around the road over a hill.
I saw the snow on the road and thought we could maybe ride over it, but the bike sank really quickly so I couldnt steer anymore. Sally slid off and I watched her run off out of sight through the snowstorm. Half way across she yelled into the intercom “something is blue here, bright blue!”. There was a big chunk of solid ice that seemed to be glowing from under the surface. I really felt bad for Sal, hunched over running around like a crazy woman in the driving snow, trying to find me a way across. But it was impossible, instead I managed to turn back and ride off the road, up the mountainside and back down on the other side of the snow patch, where Sal remounted and we rolled on at walking pace unable to see much through frosted visors, or feel anything with our numb painful fingers.
It was hard going but we made it down low enough to start to feel some feeling come back in to our bodies. The rain and wind continued and it felt like we were riding along with the storm for the next 100kms, at one point a thunder bolt hit the powerlines next to us with an almightly boom, and all the poles flashed a bright white light, Dean thought someone had just switched on the highway lights!
Thankfully, just when I didn’t think I could take anymore, it started to clear up… Blue sky appeared, the sun started to shine and everything looked even more beautiful. We found a warm restaurant to have some lunch in and started to feel better about the next 150 kms we had to go. It was all feeling good until we got back on the road (bitumen now!) and another storm started to follow us. Both of us hunched over trying to face our helmets into the driving rain and wind… How much more could we take?!
About half an hour apparently! We started to see some bright sky ahead and we both punched the air! We were surrounded with snow covered mountains all around us and the sun was shining and the sky was blue… The world was beautiful again!! So beautiful.
We made it to our destination which was down at 1000 metres, it was warmish (around 14) and we managed to find a room with two heaters to dry everything we were wearing.
Dean had a beer and I had my first shot of vodka just to get into the Russian way of life. It was 80 cents for a massive shot and it was actually quite nice!
Yesterday we rode all day on the highway towards Osh. We were pulled over twice by police before finding out that the speed limit was only 60 kph… It was a slow day, and very frustrating to be back in a place where the road rules actually apply. Thankfully none of the police spoke any English (although one did tell us his name in French?!) and they quickly got impatient with our lack of understanding and sent us on our way. Sometimes it’s fun playing stupid!
We are now in Osh in a little apartment and will be here for the next few days. We are enjoying having a kitchen and supermarkets that sell cheese, pasta, wine and campari… all the things we have missed since we’ve left home! We will be leaving here on Monday just in case there are any concerns… And we will be heading south when we do 😘
Can’t believe what we’ve just read, absolutely amazing but so so scary. The two of you are very brave but I’m so happy with the way you obviously look out for each other, thanks Dean for taking care of Sally. The scenery looks beautiful although so remote and the freezing temperatures would make everything so much more difficult, I can’t imagine…..
Please continue to be careful and stay safexxxxxxxxxx
Amazing photos!!! That snow… danng