On the 1994 Snow Lake trip to Pakistan (see Himalayan Portfolios, pp 13-25) we descended the Hispar Glacier and then took a crazy jeep ride to Karimabad in the Hunza valley. Karimabad is on the Karakoram Highway that was created by Pakistan and China to link Islamabad to Kashgar. Kashgar is a major oasis on the edge of the Taklamaken desert and a nexus on the ancient Silk Road. As we had a day to spare, several of us hired a jeep to follow the Karakoram highway to the Kunjarab Pass that is the Pakistan-China border. The broad pass is cluttered with shops selling Chinese goods. There were lines of decorated Pakistani trucks and uniformly blue Chinese trucks all waiting to clear customs. Behind us, south, was the Karakoram, to the left, extending far into Afghanistan, was the Hindu Kush and ahead to the north was the road to Kashgar that passes through the eastern edge of the Pamirs. As conditions in Pakistan and Afghanistan have degenerated, this part of the Silk Road has seemed to be more and more unreachable.
This Blog is to say the unreachable should be reached by my wife (Betty) and I this August.
We expect to fly to Bishkek (B) the capital of Kyrgyzstan (KYR) where we hope to get a political briefing from one of Betty’s former students who is at the US Embassy. We then join the group trip --follow the red line on the map. Our first stage is to journey southward across Kyrgyzstan over the southern ranges of the Tien Shan Mountains and reach Kashgar in China. The major line of the Tien Shan sweeps to the north of Kashgar and the Taklamakan Desert. The boundary between the Tien Shan and the Pamirs, the Main Pamir Thrust Fault, is in southern Kyrgystan. Note the jigsaw arrangement of bondaries in this troubled area.
The second part of our journey is to reenter Kyrgystan by a more southerly pass and join the Pamir Highway at Sari Tash. The Highway enters Tajikistan (TAJ) a little to the east of the peak that continies to be named after Lenin but is also known as Independence (7,134m / 23,405ft). We continue south over various high passes until the road drops down to the valley of the Wakhan Corridor. To the south of the corridor is the Hindu Kush. This corridor, which stretches to the Chinese border, was created in 1896 to separate Russian and British spheres of influence by a thin strip of Afghanistan. The Wakhan River becomes the Pyanj River that becomes the Amu Darya River, the legendary Oxus. The Oxus drains into the dead-end Aral Sea. The Amu Darya river forms a northern boundary to Afghanistan. Our route takes us from the Afghan border to our final destination Dushanbe (D).
We will probably be unreachable until we return August 19. My immediate challenge is to pack.