Hitting the Trail: Issyk-Ata

Posted by on August 21, 2013

One of the reasons Bishkek seems to be like such a liveable city? The multitude of options for hiking and outdoor exploration within just an hour or two of the city. Aside from the restorative properties of the little health spa of Issyk-Ata an hour and a half from Bishkek, a map I picked up in a moment of trekkers’ lust showed the little settlement to also be the trailhead to what looked to be an excellent walk up and over several 4000m passes and down to the OTHER health resort at Alamuddin.

Money Shot: Kyrgyzstan

Yurt stop.

Wow, is it a trail.  From the picture-perfect yurt just outside the gates of Issyk-Ata, a well-defined trail winds pasts waterfalls and streams, over hills and long-view lookout points, and even past a couple of temporary shepherds’ settlemets and their attendant flocks of sheep and horses.

River Crossing

Rover Crossing below Issyk-Ata.

Deeper In

Into the Valley.

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Clouded Hilltops.

On my first hike in the area, a little daytrip from comforts of the health resort, the weather started turning bad in the early afternoon and forced a change of plans for the moment.

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Initial retreat.

Undeterred, though, I went back a week later with Ruth (a random-met Seattleite who I think I spent three weeks hanging out and singing Thrift Shop with) and found a changed world. The sun shined and the streams swelled and I can’t imagine a nicer day for a walk in the mountains. I daresay even that the lemonade springs and the bluebird sings in the Big High Kyrgyz Mountains. That nice.

Into the Clouds

Triumphant Return!

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A Hut for Hiding from the Elements.

The further we got down the trail and the higher we could see into the mountains up ahead, though, the more it looked like there was mad snow ahead and little chance of making even the first of our planned passes.

Hillside Rest

Midpoint rest.

Build Me Up, Buttercup

Resting in a field of flowers.

Shepherd Downhill

Shepherd’s Hut, far away downhill.

Crossing Guard

Final crossing, just before camp.

Macro Micro

A close-up look.

Even without the full three-day over-pass, though, there were still glaciers to scramble and photos to take and maybe even horses to milk! (Huh?)

Snowy Morning

Snowy Morning, time to return.

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Retreating through the growing streams.

The next morning, though, after a night of light rain, the world was clouds. Clouds in every direction, obscuring the mountains and valley and all of our hiking aspirations. After a moist morning with not much promise of change, we packed it in and headed back to the warm baths of the health resort.

Next time, Issyk-Ata. Next time.

 

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