Family Magazine

Adventure Saturday

By Sherwoods
Last week I looked at the forecast and was shocked.  The weather here in Tashkent has been unusually gray and rainy for most of the winter; according to Joseph's weather graphs for math, we've had more rainy and cloudy days than sunny days.  It's put a real damper on any adventures.
Adventure Saturday
So when I saw a perfectly sunny fifty-degree day forecasted for Saturday, I unilaterally declared a hiking day.  Brandon and I have come to a compromise - one hiking adventure a month - and we hadn't gone hiking yet in January so I knew that I could probably get Brandon's agreement.  When I asked the children about hiking (occasionally I consult my children's preferences), they were lukewarm about hiking, but said that they would be much happier if friends could come.
Adventure Saturday
I got Brandon's buy-in to invite two other families who have claimed to like hiking, and we had a date set.  I was hoping that hiking trails would be more well-known here in Uzbekistan, but some internet searching and querying of friends yielded nothing.  So, armed with years of experience, I got on Google maps and started looking for likely prospects.  I eventually found one that looked like it 1. had parking, 2. had a trail, and 3. was pretty.  At least, it did on the satellite pictures.
Adventure Saturday
I let everyone know that they were following me off on an adventure that I wasn't going to make any promises about, and we headed east out of town to a village, Sukok, that was about 35 miles from Tashkent.  I had found a restaurant that looked to be near to the canyon we wanted to hike in, and after a short detour into the village, we were able to find the restaurant and a place to park (which is not something to be discounted in small mountain villages). 
Adventure Saturday
One of our group who spoke Uzbek asked the gathering crowd of onlookers if there was anywhere we could go 'walking the mountains,' and we were directed to a somewhat unpromising, muddy path.  But, as it was a beautifully sunny day and we had driven more than an hour to get there, everyone enthusiastically started squelching up the hill. 
Adventure Saturday
After snow, mud, a stream or two, and some livestock, we made it to a large gate barring the way.  To our surprise, a gatekeeper poked his head around the door and asked us if we wanted to come in.  Brandon acted as interpreter and was informed that we had stumbled upon a national forest (or preserve, or something similar) and it was 6,800 soum for adults and 3,000 soum for children to get in.  After a few minutes' discussion, we decided to chance the five or six dollars and see what was behind the gate.
Adventure Saturday
It only took a few feet to decide that we hadn't wasted our money on a lovely walk through an equally lovely forest.  The children went haring off together exploring paths while the adults companionably trudged through the muck, enjoying the unexpected pleasure of a forest on a perfectly sunny January day.  Eventually we stopped for a picnic before slipping our way back to the car, everyone having gotten some much-needed winter sunshine.
Adventure Saturday
Evidently Sukok is known for its shashik (shish-kebab) so we'll probably be back in the spring when there's less snow and more lovely green trees.  I'm already looking forward to it.

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