Song Kul Lake

At the recommendation of some Swiss cycle tourists we headed from Naryn to Song Kul Lake, it was good advice! Song Kul is an alpine Lakes surrounded by mountains that is at approximately 3000 meters. Where the mountains fade in to the lake is Jailoo territory. Jailoo is the term used to describe summer pasture land; higher altitude pastures are used for 5 months out of the year,  May to September.
As we rode from the pass towards the lake, the bold blue of the water showed from 25 kilometers away. It was like a siren beckoning us to come closer. We coasted down hill, greeting shepards along the way, and riding along side their herds of beautiful horses. It was breathtaking!
As we got closer to the lake to our surprise we met a solo German bike tourist, Hannes. We spent the next two days riding together around the lake. The whole time we were riding it seemed like the road was right next to the lake. When we decided to stop for the evening and camp on the lake shore, we found that because there were no trees, there was no sense of scale or distance. To our surprise the lake was over 2 kilometers from the road.

We set up camp and were treated to a wonderful sunset. As we crawled in to our sleeping bags the thundering hooves of horses surrounded us, they grazed while we slept. In the morning as the sun was rising we awoke to a natural alarm clock...a cowboy whistling as he corralled his horses in a different direction. Truly a unique experience for us all!


Osh to Naryn Kyrgyzstan

Mikey and I are in Naryn, Central Kygyzstan. Tomorrow we will be headed to lake Song-Kol or lake Issi-Kol, we will decide sometime soon exactly what route we'll take.

It's been a great, but challenging ride to this point, I'll share a few anecdotes...

Out of Osh we travelled through the city of Ozgen before reaching Jalalabad. Ozgen has a noteworthy masoleum and minaret. At this location we met a 25 year old named Eugene. Eugene is among the 20 Russians still living in Ozgen, a city of 50,000. According to Eugene, at it's peak during Soviet times Ozgen was home to approximately 10,000 Russians according to Eugene. His family has lived in Ozgen for 4 generations. His great grandfather relocated to Kyrgyzstan during The Great Famon in Ukraine (1930s). The prospects of growing sunflowers (primarily for oil), having an income and feeding his family was the motivation behind his family's move.

Meeting Eugene and talking about these things raised a lot of thoughts and questions in my head: 1) Am I aware of one important decision my great grandparents had to make?, Answer: No. 2) Can I fathom my family living in a place for 4 generations and still considering myself an outsider, Answer: No. 3) Will there be a time when Eugene leaves Ozgen and never looks back? Answer: Yes, when his grandmother dies he will join the rest of his family in Russia. He and his grandmother are the family's lone residents in Kygyzstan...this leads me to realize that the Soviet legacy is slowly fading, but some things like a love for Vodka are still holding strong.

Out of Ozgen we traveled through Jalalabad and into the mountains. Beautiful and challenging we realized on our climb up the third 3000+ meter pass that we need a new map, as ours only had the first pass marked. I had a little bit of a break down on the steep, wash boarded/sandy switch backed road. I found solace in singing myself a Paul Simon song that goes like this "break downs come and break downs go, what are you going to do about it that's what I'd like to know..." I decided that I would push my bike up the mountain instead of riding it. After a  few hot hours we reached the peak and relaxed with some shepards. They invited us to stay the night.

We pitched our tent next to their yurts, ate more varieties of dairy products than I knew existed, road horses, and generally enjoyed the atmosphere. Although the most difficult day-physically and mentally, it has been the best so far. I have learned bike touring isn't easy, but it comes with big rewards. 

Tonight we'll eat Shashlik with some Peace Corps volunteers we just met. Things are coming together as they always do.

To reply to a few comments. Michael, I look forward to hanging out this winter and sharing more details with you, and also hearing about how life and the Philosophy Dept. at St. Mary's are doing.

Dennis, we'll be back in Missoula is January, I have a ticket booked forthe 15th although I may drive accross country with Mikey in the Black Pearl.

Dan, we miss you! 

Thank you all for your consistant support.