Following the Afghan border – Tajikistan #4 – July 2014

December 18, 2017

After airing down our tires a little we made an early start, not to draw more attention to the Afghan border patrol. Since leaving California our Michelin XZLs had not had even a single leak, but potholes in deteriorating asphalt were bone jarring. Unlike a hole on a dirt road that you can roll through, holes on asphalt have a sharp edge on both sides. Sometimes it felt like dropping into a toilet bowl. Lowering the pressure down to 35psi significantly softens the ride.

Big trucks – narrow roads

Traffic was light but BIG, and there were few turnouts if we happened to meet one of the double tandem Chinese semi-trucks around a narrow blind corner. The river dictated the path along the cliff, and its muddy rapids did not look friendly. Where the canyon widened there were small villages on both sides. Anywhere half flat could be a home or a field. Hand-built rock homes were mixed with third-world adobe houses with straw roofs. Neat fields of wheat and vegetable gardens were the obvious sign of a subsistence life. There were no tractors or mechanical harvesters, and even steep mountain sides were cultivated.

Locals sat in the shade to watch the truck parade.

Locals sat in the shade to watch the truck parade.

Parking areas near villages offered truck drivers a place to rest and do repairs. We saw more than one transmission or differential on the ground, no doubt waiting for parts. Herds of cows on the road were replaced by herds of goats and sheep, perhaps a sign of the increasing altitude. The country is home to some of the highest mountains in the world. Topping out at 24,600 ft., (7,500 m), the average elevation of the country is about 10,455 ft. and 50% is over 9,800 ft., (3,000 m). Glacier-clad peaks glistened in the distance.

By afternoon, we were excited about the amazing scenery but tired of potholes and dust. Wondering what was coming around the next corner, we came upon a major bridge crossing. It had been washed out at least once and looked like it was on its last leg. We pulled off on a side trail and made camp. It was an interesting show, watching the big trucks negotiate the bridge which required a 90% turn at the far side. If the bridge held we were hoping to reach Khorog tomorrow.





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