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Hiking in Jeti-Ögüz

It became daylight very early, maybe 5am or so. The material of my tent is very thin so it’s pretty much daylight in it. I slept very well right next to the river with the sound of nature. Although it was raining during nighttime and the grass is all wet, the water level didn’t rise and swamped my tent.

Breakfast was at 8am. We had porridge, stone hard bread and black tea. At 9am people started to go for hikes around the valley near Jeti-Ögüz where our yurt camp is situated. There were basically two groups of people; one group went with our local guide Erkin to see a waterfall and the other one went towards a glacier. For the waterfall hike you really needed a guide since there was no real path leading to it and you just walk across meadows and forest. Therefore, the hike was rather short and people have been back around 11:30am.

I went with Emilie and Chris on a self-guided hike towards the glacier. Alistair was in front of us trying to cover as much distance as possible. Lauren was behind us in a fancy fluffy outfit making her more look like she’s going to a rave party than a hike. We walked until the path ended and then continued over a muddy meadow which wasn’t too much fun since it was hard to walk without getting completely covered in mud. Also there wasn’t any glacier to see, only a couple of snow covered mountains which I guess was it. Even Alistair, who was walking the whole day with high speed, didn’t see a proper glacier. At some point it also started to hail and Emilie and I found shelter under a big tree. We waited 10-15 min for a weather change which didn’t come. The mountains were all covered in big clouds and so we decided to walk back to the yurt camp.

During our hike we also experienced how the local people live in the mountains here. Their lifestyle is very basic. They live in a yurt or basic tent surrounded by their cattle, horses and sheep. The whole family seems to contribute to the work which needs to be done since I saw many kids taking care of the family’s livestock. Although they live a very basic life, all people I’ve met seemed very happy and welcoming. So you basically don’t need much to have a happy and satisfying life. However, I’m probably wouldn’t enjoy sticking to this basic lifestyle for the rest of my life. I could live like this for a couple of months and during summer time only but then would like to return to a more civilized place.

On our hike we also ran into a number of dogs which were barking loudly and came very close whenever we passed by a yurt or tent of a local which I found a bit scary. Probably people here really need dogs for their personal protection and to avoid their livestock getting stolen. On the way back we also met some local kids with which I tried to have a basic conversation with. One girl said “Yum, Yum” to me and pointed towards their yurt. Maybe she wanted to invite me for lunch or so.

We were back at the yurt camp for a late lunch around 1:30pm. We had some kind of big dumpling filled with cabbage which was very delicious. In the afternoon I had a very long nap lasting from 2pm to 7pm since my body seemed to be exhausted. Our leader Jason was also exhausted since he’s suffering from flue. Therefore, he relaxed reading a book about the afterlife and angles. I personally don’t believe in this stuff but he’s really much into it.

While we were relaxing, Martina, Andrew, Paul and Wayne went horseback riding towards the glacier. Their guides were little kids in the age between 6 and 8 who were sitting right behind them on the horse. Since all of them were beginners the kids were having fun seeing them having no real control over the horses. The cost per horse incl. guide was only 15 USD which didn’t go to the kids but the women of the couple owing the yurt camp.

Dinner was at 7:30pm. We had cabbage salad, soup with cabbage and bread filled with mashed potato for starter and four dumplings filled with spring onions and small pieces of meat for main. In the later evening people were sitting in the truck, chatting or reading since there was no light in the yurts we are sleeping in.

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