Winter can be a bit rough here. It’s not that any particular thing is really that terrible but the frequent power outages, boring work days and cold, windy days just get a little… dull. But as we wrote before, spring has arrived in Kyrgyzstan. This means the fighter jets are again dropping test bombs near our city (oh ya, that happens) and the best part is that hiking season in Kyrgyzstan has begun! We went on our first long hike of the season last weekend. It was our first time hiking with the Trekking Union of Kyrgyzstan (www.tuk.kg) which frequently arranges trips all around the country. Definitely the best way to see the beautiful nature here if you live in or visit Kyrgyzstan.
Our hike was in a place called Ak-Tuz (Ак-Түз), directly North of us and near the border with Kazakhstan. The name literally means ‘white straight’ but basically translates to White Valley. One great benefit of hiking with TUK is that they filled us in on a lot of the fascinating history of the place which I later researched more on a local website I found. The region was established in the late 1930s when large amounts of lead and some other metals were discovered. As WWII went on, the USSR was in desperate need of the lead and other metals and they quickly established a large mine and processing factory, both of which are still there today but abandoned. We didn’t have any time to explore it this trip but we now that we know about it we plan on going back this summer to check it out.
The hike was mostly flat until the end and we ended up hiking 9-10 miles round trip. The end of the hike was a small hill in the middle of a huge bowl with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains still covered in snow. We met interesting people, a couple ex-pats, 7 or 8 really nice locals and a tourist who was from just a few miles from where we lived in Seattle! One of my co-workers came too, she’s been wanting to do more outdoor activities, and did great especially being her first hike. On the way out I took photos of the piles of ski equipment sitting around. Supposedly they are building a ski hill but it looks like the expensive equipment sitting around hasn’t been touched in at least a couple years.
I think this is just the first of many hikes we’ll do with TUK this year. It was a nice start to hiking season!