On paper today was a "rest day" in that it was only meant to be 42km's long with only a short climb at the start of the day. Of course on paper many plans look simple but as regular readers will no doubt be familiar with in our case simple on paper rarely means simple in practice. We saw the Hungarian couple in the morning and he looked much like you would expect for a man who had spent most of the night in the toilet block and they had decided to stay in Pang to try and recover. This left us to cook up some eggs in a pressure cooker, have breakfast and climb our way out of the village. The sun was shining and it promised to be a hot day again but the tarmac was good and soon the tents were below us as we topped out onto a flat dry plain above.
Setting out we were treated at first to some fantastic tarmac and a gentle tailwind and all was too easy and we were lulled into thinking that this rest day might live up to it's name for a change. The wind and our luck changed at about the same time which could lead you to feel a bit paranoid. Our lovely tarmac turned out to actually be very fresh but the rest of the road was still under construction. With ample space you would think that building a parallel road while leaving the original in place would be the obvious choice but the foreman had divided the work up slightly differently. Month one - dig up the entire road and leave behind rubble, month 2-6 - replace road. I would guess we were in week two of month two. With lots of diversions and plenty of rubble progress slowed to a crawl at points. The wind also turned into our faces and it suddenly we were in a bit of a fight. The road workers gave us some stares as we struggled past and one chap was so impressed with Steve he celebrated by throwing some paraffin into this burner!
Knackered we stopped for lunch and our much anticipated eggs. Now it may have been the altitude or it may have been the pressure cooker but when Hugh cracked open his egg there was an air gap at the top and a dark colour showing through from the yolk. Public opinion was quickly swayed towards discarding the eggs, mainly encouraged by Hugh declaring it was bad and throwing his away. A bold statement given how little protein we had with us. Andy on the other hand ate his and looked happy and steadily the fickle pendulum of public opinion swung back until eventually even Hugh got up to find his egg and proceeded to clean it up and eat it. Quite a rare turn around!
Eggs down we headed off in the heat and carried on fighting. The was no knock out punches but we were taking a lot of body blows and progress was slow. Our guidebook suggested we look for a coupe of parachute tents and take a track on the right down to the lake side where we would find somewhere to camp and food on offer. This mirage kept us going and eventually we found a track heading off but without any clear indication this one was ours we passed up and headed further on. 2km of rough, tough biking later the as ever fickle pendulum swayed back and we were turning around to go back and check the trail out after all. In hindsight this moment was a mistake. Had we gone just a few hundred meters further we would have spotted a km o so ahead a small group of parachute tents offering all manner of food and facilities. Regardless we enjoyed our choice for a while as the back wind blew us to the turning and down the track towards the lake - nice easy riding for a change.
After 7km of track we were pleased to see the tents by the lake we were aiming for, glad in fact to find that this wasn't a detour in the wrong direction. If we had at last found our mirage it didn't live up to what we had put in our minds. It seemed that the promise of a proper feed was only possible much later in the day and only as a very expensive group meal and the possibilities for camping weren't that great. Keep in mind that this was meant to be our 'rest day' and you can imagine the heavy hearts when we discussed the need to press on for a couple of hours to set ourselves up for the next days ride. The right choice made we filled up our water bottles and hacked across to a track on the far side of the valley which promised some easier riding than the track we had left. Pushing our bikes up the final dusty trail was tough but we were rewarded with some tarmac on the track.
At last some easy riding and we made good progress until the light started to fade. We pulled off the road and across a plain to a nice patch for a wild camp. As soon as the sun dropped the temperature followed suit, not surprising given we were at 4600m altitude. Steve cooked up a calorie laden meal of stodge before we crashed out early in preparation for the next day. Some 'rest' day!