Overnight camping trip to the moutains
05.06.2012 - 06.06.2012
I’m still in Almaty and still obviously waiting on good news regarding my Russian visa.
To be honest I’m getting a little restless. I was thinking the other day that I’ve really only cycled 1,300km since I arrived in Urumqi all those weeks ago but I also understand that the wheels regarding visas move at the pace they do and no quicker.
I’ve a perfect view of the mountains from where I’m staying and my short trip up there last week left me with an urge to return. The weather at the weekend wasn’t so good, in fact a local told me a joke the other day that there are two things one cannot trust in Almaty; the first is the weather and the second is the women! I’ve certainly not seen evidence of the second but the weather does seem to be a little up and down. My host also said that from Monday to Friday the weather is usually gorgeous but come the weekend…….clouds and rain! Sounds much like England doesn’t it?
I checked the weather forecast and although it wasn’t great I decided to head towards Shymbulak the famous ski resort here in Almaty. My intention was to get right up into the mountains and touch snow and as a result I packed accordingly.
I’d made light work of the ride up previously but now with the bike carrying some extra weight I could already begin to feel the strain as I navigated my way up the mountain. Contrary to the weather reports it was scorching hot.
Trying to cool off on a stop up the mountain, as you'd expect this river was ice cold!
However things change very quickly in this kind of environment and just short of Shymbulak it started to rain. I could still see as I looked over my shoulder in the distance a small part of the city and it looked very much like the sun was still shining down there but that certainly wasn’t the case nearer the top of the mountain.
The first of some rather expensive looking ski houses in Shymbulak.
Squatters rights perhaps?
The road from Medeu to Shymbulak also increases rapidly in gradient and it wasn’t long before I was forced to get off and start pushing the bike; all the time feeling my calf muscles strain with every rotation of the wheels.
I decided that the rather ominous looking grey clouds that were forming between the two peaks of the mountains were a sign that rather than heading further up I should look for a place to camp a little further down the mountain. I’m sorry to say that my adventurous spirit didn’t quite extend to pitching my tent in the snow when I could sleep in the rather cozier confines lower down the mountain.
I eventually found a nice secluded spot to pitch my tent beside the river and spent a nice evening sitting by there with my pasta, salad and a couple of local beers I’d bought earlier in the day reading the excellent book on Kazakhstan I’d mentioned previously in my blog ‘Apples are from Kazakhstan’ The sound of the flowing river made for a particularly soothing soundtrack to my evening.
The signs of last years strong winds which swept through these mountains
As with most of my nights spent camping the lack of company inevitably means I go to bed very early and this was once again the case as I was folded up nicely in my bivy and sleeping bag at just gone nine.
Nestled in nicely among the trees for the night
The weather forecasts prediction of a 70% chance of rain did come true later that night but it had little effect on me.
I headed back into the city this morning passing many early morning cyclists all decked out in a vast array of colourful lycra on their super light carbon frames heading for the mountains. For me it was off to the bakery for early morning pastries and coffee! Another day in Almaty!