Trip Start Mar 23, 2012
35Trip End Apr 22, 2012
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Where I stayed
Every morning, over breakfast in the mess tent, he was greeted with hails of "What news, then?", "Anything to report?" and "How's Brackley Town doing?" Charles would reply with something like:
"China's growth rate has shrunk to a mere 8%. Kim Jong Un is travelling to the Philippines on a balsa wood raft and Boris Yeltsin has taken up scuba diving
Rob, Brackley Town's main supporter, would look sad until someone made a joke about his height, at which point he'd clock up the insult number ("sixty-three!") and cheer up.
It was a flat walk of four to six hours, according to Akbar. I wanted to have a half hour head start, but Akbar wasn't having any of it, so I ended up at the back as usual. It was a lovely walk and I was enjoying the spectacular scenery. Getting across the Shaksgam River involved taking off shoes and socks and wading. It was chilly but not too painful. Simon, with his boundless energy, found an ice-wall to climb using the ice-axe he'd been lugging around with him.
The camel train caught up with us just before lunch and Akbar grabbed a donkey. Thereafter I was asked if I wanted to ride every ten minutes. After lunch I was fooled into riding the donkey to cross a stream and no-one would let me off it again
We ended up, some time later, squeezed between scree moraine and an ice-covered tributary. The ice overhung the water and could have been strong enough to walk on, or maybe not. The donkey tried to walk on the loose, sloping moraine and slipped a few times. At this point I insisted on getting off, as it was just too scary to stay perched on the donkey, holding on with my knees.
As soon as the trail opened out again I was bodily lifted back onto the donkey by Hira and Bishnu, and an hour later I arrived in camp, slightly stiff. Riding without stirrups uses muscles you didn't know you had.
Ottur Jangal camp: 3800m. Sats 88% HR 90.