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Archive for the ‘Camping Hiking and Trekking’ Category

This weekend was the hash camping trip to Tigrovaya Balka, a nature preserve south of Dushanbe, not far from the borders of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.  B____ (a/k/a Flasher) organized the trip and handled all the formalities, which, as usual, were not inconsiderable; and I’m glad he did because it’s tough to get the proper permits for this area and it is a beautiful place.

A truck misjudged how a bridge was, we helped the driver out.

A truck misjudged how wide a bridge was, we helped the driver out.

First we had to get down there, which was a decent drive from the capital.  Aside from the poorly paved roads and kamikaze drivers, Tajik regulars both, we also had to deal with the above: a bridge reduced to one lane, rubble everywhere, and a truck that got itself wedged between a pile of concrete and the side of the bridge, thereby blocking the whole damn thing.  Luckily, the intrepid Religious Adviser organized the Tajiks who had been milling about and our band of expats to push the truck free.  The road thus cleared led straight to the preserve, where we were confronted with the following sign:

I don't come cheap.

I don't come cheap.

Okay sure, it’s a mistranslation of “dear,” but we thought it was pretty damn funny.  We’re immature.

After a whirlwind tour of the small museum displaying the flora and fauna (wild boars! photo of the last tiger at the preserve, shot by the Soviets in the ’50s! ferns!) and meeting the deer that the wardens kept in a stable for some reason, the wardens took us to their hideaway and fed us a great lunch of deep fried goat and deep fried fish while on a tapchan (which is apparently also called a “dastarkhan,” though I’ve never heard anyone call it that).  Here’s the view from the tapchan:

Imagine me munching on goat and looking at this.

Imagine me munching on goat and looking at this.

Properly satiated, we then went on a long and dusty road to our campsite.

View through the windshield on the way to the campsite.

View through the windshield on the way to the campsite.

Once there, I was confronted with setting up my tent.  Bought with great anticipation and at least a little fanfare prior to the trip, this was the first opportunity for me to actually set the thing up.  Yeah, yeah, I had meant to practice the set up in my living room or in the backyard, but the guy at REI made it look so easy and I’m so lazy, that I never did that.  To my relief, C________ (thanks Necro!) and K______ (thanks No Name K______!) were there to guide me through it, and whaddya know, it is fairly easy to set up.  I still should probably practice at some point in the future, however, lest I be without handy beauties to help me.

Looks good, huh?

Looks good, huh?

Thus situated, we were geared up to go on our hash run through the savanna, but I was able to snap a pic of the view from my tent before we took off.

This is the Vaksh River, in which I swam post-hash.

This is the Vaksh River, in which I swam post-hash.

Following the longish run, the numerous mosquito bites (who needs bug spray?), a refreshing swim, the hash circle, the many beers, the roaring campfire, more beer, the silliness at said campfire, a surprisingly restful night of sleep, a “hangover hash” in the morning, and another refreshing swim, we got a good taste of a cool area that not too many people get out to.

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