The Tien Shan Traverse – part 2

Our tent was frosty white when the sun hit it before 6 in the morning. We were looking forward to a big downhill day but sad to be leaving the high country. Switchbacks dropped us quickly to the long Burkhan valley. We sped quickly along this beautiful valley thru grazing sheep and goats, cows, yaks and horses, never a fence to be seen. Our feet never had a chance to dry with the continual dousing in sidestreams.

We met 3 Spanish cyclists we had met months back in Tajikistan. They had accessed the plateau and now this descent via the Barskoon road, a shorter and ‘easier’ option than our ascent route, especially for those more heavily loaded on touring bikes.

We had a late lunch at our planned destination for the day, before the intersection with the Tosor pass road that we had biked up just over a week ago. Our tent was set up close to the now large, silty river. A short wander downstream provided us with clear water from a side creek which we then sterilised as per normal practice. It was a hot afternoon and not a tree in sight unfortunately.

In our figure of 8 route between Naryn and IssyKul return we only had to repeat 26km of road and it flew past the next morning on a downhill run, then a turn off onto new ground and following the growing Little Naryn river through the first gorge section of the day.

After a snack outside the disappointingly closed first magazine (Russian for shop) for 5 days, we hit the second gorge. We were unprepared for the stunning forested gorge scenery and when we found a campsite halfway down we decided to have a shorter day than intended – water, shade trees and the opportunity for a camp fire was enough to change our minds.

The second half of the Little Naryn gorge was even more spectacular, the road rollarcoasting it’s way alongside – we were glad to be doing it with fresh legs in the cool of the early morning.

We were spat out onto open country with a mountain backdrop and had more success at the Eki Naryn magazine purchasing a small bottle of Coca Cola, the only item to grab our attention.

The road surface out from Eki Naryn had the first corrugations we had struck for 2 weeks so we had little to complain about and the big lunch at the 3 star Khan Tengri hotel on the outskirts of Naryn was just what we wanted – English menus are hard to find in these parts.

We have the luxury of time on our side so will have 2 days rest here. Having discovered the Nomad cafe on this stay in Naryn we are not straying too far from its good food and pretty good coffee.