Tajikistan and the Pamir “Highway” July 12 Tavildara to “2 spots” past Dekh
At 6 am canned music and what sound like propaganda started playing over the loudspeakers of the town. We planned to set out early anyway as we had a very long day. Orvar had it in hid mind we would make it 321 km to Kurog, but there is no way.I though we might make it to “camping with a beach and shade” just south of Ruson in 254 km.
It is 80 KM to Kalaikhum and that took 4 hours!
In the end neither of us was right as we only made it as far as Dekh
The first job is to get the bikes back out the gate.
Leaving town over the bridge again we say the raging river that we would see most of the day. The road surface is firm and prey good initially and some sections have remnants of pavement and some have remnants of road.
The 41 does a right hand turn over another bridge, but the road beyond is washed out and the bridge here gone. This was a small water crossing then up a steep hill to the first military check point of the day. The guy here was a bit of a jerk and most seem on a bit of a power trip. He insisted we park on the right side of the road where the slope made it very difficult to park.
The road goes along the river and there are a few wet sections. As we headed up into the hills the road was more surfaced at times. The cars coming at you are driving mock speed and never slow to pass you and never give was on the “good” track on the road.
We arrived to a sign that pointed right, but the 41 went left. Cars came from both directions.
We went left and after about 5 km of pretty rough road we arrived to a huge land slide. There was a rough rock “path” and Dan rode up over it and to the bridge 1 km further. Meanwhile several guys on the opposite hillside and up about 300 m started yelling wildly. They got louder and louder and more urgent until it became obvious we would turn back. A local came walking buy to say the road was closed and we needed to go back to the turnoff and take the detour around.
So its back on the rough road to the turn off. This road climbs and winds up thru a village and then up thru meadows of wild flowers. It eventually meets the 41 again farther south about 15 km.
The road here is wide and firm. It climbs steadily up to the summit of the pass at 3258 m where it was 12 degrees.
There was one black ominous looking cloud in our path. On the downward side it is a bit narrower and windy. It then started to rain the most enormous drops, but there were not actually that many of them. There was much heavier 2mm hail pelting us. The cloud was moving in the opposite direction to us and we managed to ride thru the worst of it in less than 10 minutes. These roads are mostly easy going, but in the rain it would quickly turn into a nightmare.
Just after this we ran into a Romanian rider and let him know about the unmarked detour. He was asking about the quality of the road ahead. I feel bad for him as he looked worried and his way it gets worse where as in ours it gets better we found.
The road hangs on the cliff side at times. Then it is down down down to the river again and to 32 degrees. On the way we met 2 Swiss who also noted the road deteriorating….There are more sections with intact pavement here and we are getting close to the town of Kalaikhum.
Kalaikhum is where we would have arrived from the lower road it was open on Monday. We stopped here for some lunch at 1230 and met 4 Polish on 2 bikes. They may have a challenge 2 up on the next leg.
Leaving Kalaikhum we had 180 km to go to Ruson. Kalaikhum is also where the border with Afghanistan can be seen across the river. We will follow this for the next few days.
Just before we left town we found a station with 92 and topped up. There are short section with pavement here. In every village the kids come running out screaming “hello” and waving or wanting a high 5. We know Michael had been pelted with rocks and hit in the head, but we have only seen waving kids. They all want to high 5 and I could strangle the rider who stared this trend. Even toddlers in diapers run out into the road right into your path with arm raised to you. This is so dangerous.
Views of Afghanistan!!!
The road hangs along the cliff side and there are a few water crossings where there have been wash outs.
Kids running out for the hi 5. Dangerous!
The next military check point was just before the road was surfaced more than not and we could finally get some speed up for 500 m once in a while. It was now after 430 and we still have 100 km to go to Rushon, but we pressed on. We were all getting very tired after 530 and 8 1/2 hours of rough at times riding.
With 56 km left to go to Ruson we decide to give up at just after 6 and found a “guest house” in the GPS, which is actually at the truck stop just past Dekh.
There are no real rooms, but you can sleep on a raised platform outside where it is so loud from the raging river and the waterfalls you would never sleep. There is one large room with a platform that seems to be where they sleep. We got out the camping gear and made due. There is also no shower, but you can wash at the communal spot that has glacial water flowing from a drain spout. There is also not bathroom and only the communal outhouse across the road. Trevor checked it out and said not to go within 50 meters ( actually he said “i would rather take a poop in the middle of the road than go in there again”). They also made us dinner which was edible at best. We said no to breakfast. We were all tired and in bed by 930. It was disconcerting at 1 am when Trevor got up to pee that all the doors were locked from the outside. The owner was sleeping outside and eventually roused with the banging to open the door.