Yesterday’s 8 hour ride left me quite tired in the evening. Also, the next two or three cycling days will be above 4000 m and very remote, so I could use some time for reorganizing myself, buying food for that time, and last but not least visit Murghab, even though there is not too much to see.
Murghab – A wild-east city
It is a very special atmosphere here in Murghab. It is basically a city with two paved roads, one leading north towards Lake Karakul and Kyrgyzstan, and one heading east towards the Chinese border. Between these two roads, there are simple one-story houses arranged in a less organized way with sand or gravel between them. As Murghab is not connected to the electricity network, there are countless stinky diesel generators in operation. Thanks to such a generator I am actually able to write this post. The city itself has no charm at all, but the location in the middle of the mountains compensates a little and as there is not much traffic, it is a quite relaxing place.
Shopping at Bazaar
The Bazaar in Murghab is basically a collection of containers and old trailers or train wagons that have been turned into shops. The good thing is, there is a surprisingly big diversity of articles that can be bought here. I was able to get vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, which is impossible to find in any small village. Anne and Lucie even got some cherries. And of course the more common vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots were available too. My lunch today consisted of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with fresh bread – with the knowledge that in the next few days I won’t be seeing any fresh vegetables.
Food for cycling
The shopping for the next few days was clearly focused on the volume, the weight, and the nutritional value of the food, because I have to carry every gram up to the more than 4600 m high pass. This basically rules out any fresh vegetables and fruit except some potatoes and carrots. So I will survive the next days with polenta, rice, pasta, cans of vegetables and meat, Mars and Snickers, and some sweet stuff such as dates, raisins, and cookies.
A long day tomorrow
The route tomorrow will go north from Murghab (3640 m) for 75 km up to Ak-Baital Pass (4655 m). As I don’t want to sleep in this altitude to prevent a headache and other altitude-related symptoms as well as the freezing temperatures, I also want to descend again to around 4000 m, preferably to Karakul, a small village another 55 km from the pass where there is a homestay.
If the weather permits, I will start cycling early in the morning at 7:00 with the goal to reach the pass at noon or in the early afternoon. This is ambitious because a 1000 m climb in this altitude is not easy and because the weather can change very quickly. Should either my personal fitness or the weather prevent climbing the pass, I will have to camp before the pass on around 4000 m. This is the reason I will take that much food with me. And the weather forecast for Tuesday is not very good, so it could also happen that I will have to spend a second night in a tent before either continuing to Karakul, or if the bad conditions persist, returning back to Murghab.