Another Monday and another fabulous hike. I nearly didn’t go this week, as Sasha had been complaining of a sore tummy all weekend and then had a very slight temperature on Monday morning. I was looking forlornly at the snow-topped mountains out of the window while she happily coloured in some Balamory print offs at 9am when Allia the nanny arrived.
“Aren’t you going hiking today?” she asked
“Well, you know, Sasha is ill and I sort of thought I ought to stay at home with her’”
“It’s a lovely day today. Klassnaya pagoda (classy weather),” said Allia
“Yes, I know, fantastic weather for a walk,” I said.
“Oh, go on. I am an old woman and I can’t go, you go up there and have a blast. We’ll be fine.”
I didn’t need much encouragement and 10 minutes later I was fully kitted up and running out the door to meet the hiking group at the Gorny Gigant rendez vous point.
And what followed was my favourite hike so far. We drove past the ski centre at Chimbalak and further up the track, about 5 kilometers on snow and ice. Stopping by some unfinished chalets (surprise, surprise, nothing in Kazakhstan seems to be finished) with one guy mixing cement at snail’s pace, or should I say credit crunch pace we parked the cars and headed up a track. The beauty of this walk as that it was not too steep but looking all the time along a fabulous wide valley, the sun rising through the sky all the way. At one point we took a short cut through the snow walking up a steep incline on our way towards a massive rock face. We passed an RIP sign to some guy who had probably met his maker there, or perhaps who had also loved this spot so much he had chosen to be laid to rest there.
Then we walked up to a dam built apparently to stop avalanches from crashing down into town, and water from racing down the valley. A very quick lunch as it was v cold, then a brisk walk back down to the cars.
On the way down, friend L and I chatted about various things including currency fluctuations and the credit crunch (even the house wives are at it now). We commented, as we floundered about how many Tenge there were to the Euro and what the Pound was at, and therefore what was best to buy where, at how glad we were that we were having this discussion on our own, walking down a mountain and without our supposedly financially-astute husbands listening to the gobbledegook and utter nonsense theories that we have both developed!