Mountain Springs

Getting around Central Asia isn't very easy since public buses don't exist and the only way to snag rides are via private taxis.  Such was the case coming into Karakol, a mountain town with a few churches and a small hotel that looked haunted from the inside and out.  The hotel was manned by an elderly gentleman who showed us to a large but spooky interior with old Victorian furniture, creaky stairs, and doors that would lead to different parts of the house.  The place was a maze and we were the only ones here.

We slept well in the old house with the sound of the wind, melting icicles hitting the ground, and a few barking dogs.

In the morning an ancient Russian truck picked us up to go to Altyn Arashan, a set of hot springs deep in the mountains.  The driver didn't look like he was all there.  He looked like he had been working on a farm and might have had manure stains on his overalls.  He was completely disheveled, looked hungover but had a smile and cracked jokes in Russian.  The scenery along the river was either jagged snow covered peaks or deep dizzying valleys. 

The jeep only got so far before we had to foot it to the hotel near the springs to meet Valentin.  There were just a few of us at the hotel, two guys from Poland who had come to snowboard the backcountry, a couple from Holland, a quiet bearded hotel helper, and us.  The little lodge provided simple meals around a woodstove.  During the day, we would soak in the amazingly hot springs and then go for hikes around the valley with massive 10,000 feet and above peaks all around.

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