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  • Writer's pictureVoita

Leaving the mountains

Red eyes, wild hair, no words to form a coherent sentence with.

I forewarned Sahlan that I'll wake him up to say goodbye, but that hasn't made it any easier.

Likewise I remain silent. What'd I say? What can I say to all the Pathao bike riders asking about my impressions of Pakistan, wondering how do I live on the road and why am I alone, thinking for themselves or out loud, if I'd take them along?

What do you say, when you're moving on? I'll remember you, miss you, stay in touch? Make vain promises, "Next time, I'll come in summer." -?

We hug, Sahlan goes back to bed, I walk to the bus.

Leo howls; her cry is as stumped as her legs. I'll miss the little Husky, less than a year old.

Leo and a cat friend


looking back at Ultar

It's my last time looking at the mountains as well, and I keep staring at the glaciers. How cool would it be to get a little jetpack and fly up and down in front of them, watching avalanches from the front row? You never see the mountain you're on, when you're climbing. Only those around you. Like in ski resorts; there's something magnetic at staring at the mighty giants, which cannot ever get old.

You only enter the mountains once - even if you leave, your heart will stay behind.

That's how it is.

(Martin from when we trekked around Mt. Everest is an honorable exception!)

final peak sighting

casual guard

And so I've left the mountains on much too full a bus, nearly starving for air. Four guys layered up in winter clothes per each bench usually seating three, in a closed minivan ... doesn't just sound like a bad joke.

tight space

from a bus window

sunrise

Mid-afternoon bus from Gilgit to Islamabad. 300 miles by the river Indus at night. We drive past quarries and army bases. Above us, hidden in the darkness, sit on the slopes old dwellings of the original settlers. How'd they ever think that place where a mountain goat can scarcely sit would be a great place to build a house and plough fields? KHK - army - original settlers. Three such different worlds in an attempt to coexist on this sliver of a land. We took one extended stop due to a landslide, but we reached as the road was re-opening and lost minimal time. I didn't sleep much anyway.

Sunrise in Islamabad, drowned in smog. The visibility here remains terrible.

Monument to Pakistan

views towards the city


sunset by the Monument (bottom L)

Tried to resurrect stream, which wasn't possible in Hunza - data came and went like wind - but the chosen point of contact, Monument of Pakistan, was waylaid with 0000 children (substitute a large number of your liking). Data quality was as bad as it was up north. Mayhaps we'll get one more chance tomorrow or the day after...

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