A refreshing dip in the Pamir river was the perfect cure for the horrible night all three of us had troubles recovering from. For some dark reason the bright, almost full moon kept us up for the better part of the night. Progress was slow and after Anton had battled the stomach virus in Khorog it was now Stef's turn, which made cycling a real nightmare. His friends agreed to an extended mid day break at the riverside, and while the boys digested their books his own stomach digested breakfast about 6 times within a timespan of 30 minutes. As we progressed to Jelondy, the last village before a long uninhabited stretch, locals of this mountainous region greeted us along the way. It's a weird sight at first, faces fully covered under a black hood, either fully protected against the wind and sun or ready to rob a bank.
Arriving at the village we chose for comfort and agreed on a 6 dollar per night hotel room, when Anton found out it included a free hot water spring, he flipped out and raced through the hotel to inform the guys it was splashing time! The boiling liquids gushed into the hotel's swimming pool from a hole in the wall, almost painfully hot. We hoped its powers could cure Stef by letting him sweat it out a bit, but all the magic the mineral waters provided us with was turning our silver rings greenish black.
The next day Anton and Yuri stopped to say hi to Antons spirit animal now that he had the chance. A huge family of yaks returned their greeting with a grunt from the side of the road and allowed them to get very close. These big wild beasts have a heavy thick coat and a rough appearance. They are strong and tough climbers. The Yak is tempered, confident and courageous. This versatile animal lives in herds and has lots of stamina. Meanwhile Stef, face still slightly green, continued to get a head start while trying to ignore the war zone in his stomach. The program included a 4200 meters high pass and this, given his situation, seemed a Mission Impossible at first. The first Belgian cycler crossed our paths while we were one hour away from reaching the top. "I thought I was the only madman on this abandonned road!" He welcomed us.
After providing us with some medicine to battle the virus and continued his way down. We tried not to envy him and continued conquering the pass, hindered by the horrible state of the road. Eventually we reached the top, and set up camp in an ancient graveyard consisting of tiny mudbrick castles, perfect for sheltering us from the wind. We decided to make snowmelt noodlesoup for dinner, a true delicacy up in these mountains.