This past weekend was the twenty-fifth anniversary of Tajikistan's independence. The locals around here celebrated with a couple of parades (one rumored to have 60,000 marchers) and a national holiday. We, not being Tajik, celebrated by getting out of town.
We had planned to go camping and then friends invited us to go with them to Iskanderkul, a glacial lake about three hours drive outside Dushanbe. Eleanor got sick during the week and seriously endangered our outing, but when her fever broke and other things were deemed controllable with drugs, we were able to go.
The drive was, especially for Tajikistan, really quite reasonable. Even the Tunnel of Death was more like the Long Tunnel Without Lights but Not Much Else of Concern. One bridge was dicey - but about seventy-five percent of non-highway bridges are dicey - and we didn't even have to put the car in four wheel drive or cross any streams, creeks, or rivers on the way up. It was almost like driving in America.
There are a few campgrounds at Iskanderkul that have the dubious privilege of 'facilities,' but we passed them up to find our own spot. At first things looked a little less than promising, but with a little perseverance we found one of the prettiest spots in the whole country.
Iskanderkul is, as I mentioned earlier, a glacial lake. But as the weather was warm-ish (in the low seventies), the children decided that wading was a great idea.
The adults sat on the beach and watched them get wet, dirty, and cold. There's a reason we're the ones in charge of the world.
Joseph and I went for a walk and found part of the river that feeds Iskanderkul.
Then we went on another walk and found some rocks to climb.
After dinner we played games, made s'mores, and then sent the children to bed. The adults then broke out the hot chocolate and stayed up much too late talking. But, it's not camping if you don't stay up too late.
And it's also not camping if you don't get woken up much too early in the morning by children who don't care that you stayed up too late and didn't sleep too well on the ground.
After some breakfast up and more wading and mud digging we packed up and headed back for Dushanbe.
But before leaving, we went on a short hike to a waterfall near the lake. The entire lake outflow squeezes down to a narrow gorge and then drops over a pretty big cliff. The only way to view it is on a platform that hangs out over the waterfall. This sounds maybe okay, but when you're on it, feeling the give of the little metal poles that stand between you and rocky, watery death, it's not. Heights don't bother me, but this did.
Nonetheless, I made Sophia pose for pictures. She's lighter, right?
After our dangerous activity for the day (excepting driving home), we finally made the trek back to Dushanbe and showers and toilets and our own soft, comfy beds.
The children are already asking when we can go back and I'm wondering how long the weather will hold before the fall rains come. Even Brandon conceded that it "wasn't that bad - about seventy-five percent reasonable." So hopefully we'll get an opportunity to go again.