After my sunrise hike I was exhausted. A nap ensued during the extreme warmths that the sun rained. That evening I was to head to Passu a little farther north and closer to the Chinese border. I eventually found my way to Passu a day after I wanted to be there, but what to do? The roads along the way were nearly barren if hadn't been for the other 'coasters' (15 passenger vans) along the way, nothing. Coming up through glacial landslides and narrowly navigating through the tightly dug pathway through it. The water of the river right up against the highway was an amazing backdrop for what surfaced around the corner. Massive mountain peaks topped off with snow caps. The pictures are beautiful captures but they do not capture the absolute mammoth proportions that these peaks reach. I am humbled being in such amazingness.
Passu is a very small village with a handful of guesthouses. I ended up setting up shop in Passu Inn. First stop in Passu and was recommended from Abbas, the young gentleman who runs KADO. So I jumped out in the rain and made it for the reception. Got myself a charming little room and waited for the rain to let up. It finally did and I walked out the door. Left or right? I chose left. Walked a few kilometers and decided there wasn't anything worth seeing. Then the daisies made their appearance and reminded me what they represent to me and knew that I wasn't alone. When I was huffing and puffing up the mountain, I wasn't alone; when I was saluting the sun, I wasn't alone; and when I retire to sleep, I'm not alone. I decided to turn back, there was suspension bridge or the Pasu Glacier I could go quickly see before the darkness settled in. The suspension bridge sounded like the best option. I met a young man on the road who was very well educated and spoke pristine English. He offered me some tid bits about this and that around the way, he invited me for chai ;) I had to keep on going and so I did through the twists and turns of the KKH (Karakoram Highway). I finally see the bridge and I'm getting close. I finally get the point at which I think I can get to it and walk down a mountain only to find more mountain filled with cliffs. I opted to go back, I figured 16 kilometers was good for a warm up.
When I got back to the guesthouse the power was still out. Four people were huddled in the dark and I heard a "Hello" come from one of them. We began introducing to one another in the dark. Travellers. Paul from Canada, Oliver from Germany, Francesca from Switzerland and Veronica from France. We were all famished and went to order our meals. The guesthouse owner told us the cook went home and that we'd have to go down the road to Glacier Breeze guesthouse and restaurant. I am so thankful that the cook wasn't there because I got to enjoy my first real Hunza meal. There was walnut and apricot pasta salid, Ghalmandi (thin chipati's cooked in apricot oil filled with yak cheese and mint), Hunza pie (spicy vegetable pie, spicy...), apricot juice made from real apricots. Top notch, all of it from top to bottom (I forgot to take pictures for you Gogal). The five of us engaged in our travels stories bringing back the camaraderie that is shared by the warriors. It was delightful to hear more stories of the north of Pakistan, places I wish to see.
The five of us moved out of the guesthouse we were in and moved down the valley to Hunza Peak Inn ;) This immaculate little guesthouse was just perfect and even more so when we met Akbar Shah. A retired military officer with a smile that doesn't seem to slip of his face. So accommodating, thoughtful and caring. We had breakfast together and set out on our day of trekking to a couple suspension bridges and a lake. I managed to fall off five feet from a cliff I was trying to get around and landed in a thorn patch. Poked and bleeding I continued on like a good boy scout should. Then came another obstacle, a gigantic boulder in the way. I decided to drop a large stone in the water and use it as a step to get around the boulder. It just dropped with the hollow thud. I decided that I had already signed up for more than I asked for so I jumped into the glacial water and went into thermal shock from how cold that water was.
The destination was no where near the excitement of that of the journey, but alas, we arrived. The suspension bridge. A few cables strung from one end to the other with dried out old and brittle looking wood. I was a bit apprehensive about going but then just walked out without holding the side cables. My balancing act was cut short when the winds blew through the valley and nearly knocked me over. I grabbed on to one side of the bridge and closed my eyes. The feeling of flying was never so comfortable.
I crossed back and left the others behind. I watched from an elevated perspective a yak crossing the river. These men had harnessed up a three stage crossing for this yak using ropes and linking them with the bridge. The final portion of the river that the yak had to cross was the deepest. The current pulled him a hundred yards down stream and must have been submerged for almost a minute; I could barely handle 30 seconds knee deep in that water. I can now say that I've witnessed my first river crossing Yak experience ;)
By this time I was exhausted after climbing up the mountain to get back to the highway. I flagged down the first vehicle I came across, a chicken truck ;) As I was rolling down the hills I managed to find Paul, then a bit onwards, Oliver and Francesca. We were all about The Murghi Express and heading back to the valley. We stopped in at our favorite Hunza restaurant and had some impressive Apricot Cake.
Arrived back at the guesthouse and found three Australians who had ridden their motorcross bikes from Australia ;) We shared in motorcycle stories and they couldn't express how impressed they were with how fabulous Pakistan was. I couldn't agree with them more, at least Northern Pakistan. There is nothing like it and the hearts are very big... made me feel right at home, just lovely.