Another steep grind led us into a new, rocky green valley, where we we assumed we could see the top of our climb on the other side. We stopped there for a second round of lunch where we also had to acknowledge that we had a bit of a problem. Since it was unlikely we’d make it all the way to Lom today based on our slow climbing speed, we’d probably need to spend another night wild camping. We had everything we needed save for one issue: we were running low on water. Already feeling a little nervous about the way I was rationing my bottles and knowing pretty much all our food needed water in order to be cooked, we got to watching for a lake or stream from which we could pump a new supply.
Ben: As we began our decent down the other side of the false summit, small lakes began to appear. We eventually spotted one that was fed by a quick river that ran right next to the road. It had pockets of water deep enough for our filter, so figured it a good time to break it in. Fifteen minutes later our water supplies were stocked and we had everything we needed to camp for the night.
Bree: Still, we were not at the top. We pedaled and pedaled, and at the top of each shockingly steep hill, we’d reach another outlook that were were sure must be the summit. We’d pause, take pictures, point our bikes downhill, and then find ourselves climbing again and again. Though we were getting tired and the uphill seems endless, the way was still stunning. It took another hour before we reached the final valley, spotted with glossy white glaciers, navy lakes, and emerald valleys, huge boulders weighing it all down.
Finally, we pedaled up our final steep pitch to find the summit. I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of the vast, rugged landscape and by the fact that we’d really made it. I’d had huge doubts about whether this way would be feasible on loaded bikes and with and injury in tow, and yet here we were at the top, still smiling.
Ben: Down the other side, the road propelled us steeply down toward a narrow canyon that was highlighted by yet another shockingly blue glacial river. Just about as we hit the treeline, Bree finally spotted a good trail that looked like it might make for a promising place to camp. After scouting it out, we found a nice flat field and decided to call it a day.
The site was well above the road and not visible at all. It had great views of the surrounding canyon walls, and really quick river access. It was a wide flat pitch with short grass – absolutely everything we needed for the night and none too soon as it was already 4:30.
Just as we had set up and got to cooking, two motorcycles showed up. Within ten minutes they had thrown their bags not 30 feet from our tent and were setting up their own. I couldn’t help but be mildly irritated – with dozens of great spots in this canyon of it seemed strange they decided to pitch right next to us.
The site-poachers were friendly and quiet and weren’t causing any trouble, so as the afternoon faded our irritation subsided. We spent the rest of the day devouring a pot of goulash and hiding in the shade next to tent from the relentless sun that had been beating down on us all day. Exhausted from a really good day, we waited until the canyon shaded our tent and crawled inside to call it a night.