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Merzbaher lake – day 3 – Across the desert

7 july.
Finally we started hiking.
Morning in mountains, fresh cool air, clear sky – this is a dream of any urban resident.

Being in such beautiful places like this one, I like getting up earlier in order to enjoy the serenity of morning nature.
Today we are going to cross the Inylchek river by car. A big truck has been rolled over by the stream. We had a small 2-door jeep, which was 3 times lighter then the truck.
As water stream is less in the morning we decided to start as early as possible.
Surprisingly but this small jeep easily crossed the river 4 times taking our group to another shore.  Then it took all our heavy backpacks and was driving by stones and dirt, where there is no sign of a road.
Now I know what is the best off-road car for travelling.
So we reached the place named “Prijim”. It is difficult to find an English  equivalent for this word. In other words it is the place where the water stream comes very closely to mountains.
Our car stopped here, no way to drive further.
Suddenly near the river we found a treasure – a bag full of Bounty chocolates, vegetables, cans.
Deciding what to do with the  Bounty treasure
Then we parked our car just near the mountain,  put our heavy backpacks on and started climbing a very steep hill. 
There was a small waterfall waiting for us of the top with crysatally-clear cold water.  The most tasty water I ever drunk.
…after the killing ascension there is always a pleasant descent.
So we were on the other side of “Prijim”.
30 minutes up and 30 minutes down and we were exhausted with this start of the hiking part
Basically we cut around just a small part of the river Inylchek.
Some of our groupmates were not happy with this way and decided to cross the river directly on the way back. Ok, will see…
Luckily this was the only ascension today.
The rest part of our today’s travel lied in the riverbed of the Inylchek river.
We were walking around 10 km under the burning sky

It was exhausting just  like crossing a desert,  where there is almost no grass and millions of stones.

At 14.00 tired and hungry we found a small tree covering us from the sun. Nice place for a dinner.
Basically we were walking too slow, making small pauses every 30 minutes. Our porters left us behind despite the fact that theirs backpacks were 1,.5-2 times more heavy that ours
We are walking further. A breathtaking view appeared on the right side: a giant glacier covering the mountain is melting  and a  powerful stream of water break out of the mountain with a very load noise, giving birth to a river that we had to cross somehow. Living many years in Kyrgyzstan I have seen many mountains and glaciers, but this one was impressive for me.
As for crossing rivers, crocs that I took with me helped a lot to cross rivers like this one. There is no bridges in this mountains, not even stones sometimes to jump from one to another. Anyway you will have to enter cold water. And instead of wetting your shoes you have better to put crocs to ford rivers. 
After we passed the melting glacier we saw the tops of green tents. That was the Iva camp, our destination for today.
Actually if our car could pass the river near Prijim we could drive easily till the Iva camp. 
It was only 3 p.m. and we wanted to proceed hiking. But the sky was covered by clouds, the weather’s changing.
Our porters were waiting us in the Iva camp. They already installed our tents and after a short discussion they argued us to stay here. We decided to get up earlier tomorrow and hike the 2-days tracks till Merzbaher meadow.  3 hours till the next camp Glina  and +4 hours to the Merzbaher meadow as they said.
So it was 7 hours of hiking with the speed of porters. For our speed + 2 hours more at least.
But we all were motivated and had energy to get there as soon as possible. 
Actually there were no reasons to rush. We had lot of food, the weather was good (not so much clouds).  Maybe we just were eager to see the lake.

Camp Iva (eng “willow”) – is one of the alpinists camps, located in the Sary-djaz valley. They are build by Aksai Travel agency, a  tour operator organising tours in Kyrgyzstan.

I didn’t find any willows here. It looks more like a desert steppe with small bushes. The camp is located under the peak having a famous name “Nansen” and we are going to drink the water from the glacier covering this mountain.
I liked this camp. It is a long-term camp with more than 10 spacious big tents. Turists can get everything here – food, comfortable bed, even a shower and electricity.  Of course it is not free, contrary the prices are quite high here. In case something happened and you found yourself in these lands without food, you can get a breakfast for 70 USD in this camp))) Free competitive market doesn’t exist here.
However you can come here by yourself, install your tent near the camp for free and live as long as you want. That’s what we did today.
There are always 2-3 people, Aksai travel stuff, living and working in the camps during the season. And all the tour guides, and our porters as well, know them very well.
So after making camp, our porters went to the green tents of Aksai, to see theirs colleagues.
Actually porters are very interesting people. They carry heavy backpacks, up to 50 kg sometimes. In the same time they hike without stops, and they smoke a lot. I’m wondered how they survive it. Moreover they hike much faster than we do.
And this was a reason of a big problem: porters prefer to go fast, they don’t like waiting for us. They want to arrive to the destination quickly to take off their backpacks. We, newbies, are walking slowly, making 1 step each 20-30 minutes. And we don’t know the road.
Though we knew that our destination is this mountain “Bronenosets” (Armadillo), and we could clearly see this huge mountain – here it is by the way
it was very easy to loose the trail.
So we had to follow porters, but we couldn’t go so fast as they do.  So we had to persuade them to go with us.
But a more serious problem appeared – there is no drinkable water in the camp Iva. We didn’t take much with us, because we were told that there is a source of drinkable water in every camp. Indeed there was a river near Iva, but it was dirty.
That is how people get drinkable water in Iva: they take a big barrel (you can ask one in green tents of Aksai) fill it with the dirt water from the river and leave for several hours.
The dirt and clay are supposed to get down, but even after waiting 1 night the water doesn’t look potable.
Luckily Paul,  being an experienced traveler, had a water filter. I really liked this device. Looks like this:
It’s a small (aroiund 1 kg) pump with 2 tubes. You put one end into the dirt water and start pumping.  Clean water goes out of the other tube. The weak point is that pumping is extremely slow. During half hour we pumped and cleaned only 6 liters of water.  But it was clean and noone got sick after drining it)).
Tomorrow we are going to the leave as early as possible to pass around 20 km and reach the Merzbaher Meadow.
It’s one day that I don’t have Internet and I am ok. Here I don’t have time for it. We think here about more simple things: how to climb this mountain, how to cross the river, where to find drinkable water etc.
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