After pacing off 6,000 miles of trail out of Africa since 2013, the Out of Eden Walk journey continues. The new compass bearing: across the highest mountains on Earth. The western Himalayas.
From the ancient trading city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, I look back on 1,500 miles of walked Central Asia. Those days already have the sepia quality of a waking dream.
Fourteen months ago, on the vast prairies of western Kazakhstan: Three men—my guides Talgat Omarov and Daulet Begendikov, and I—pogoed in circles around our frightened cargo horse, waving our hats to fend off attacks by fierce wild stallions. (From above, I imagine a passing satellite capturing this silent, lunatic, pagan dance: Three dots revolving in a vast ocean of grass.) Ten months ago, in the middle of the Kyzl Kum desert of Uzbekistan: Swaying thirstily atop a red sand hill, I summoned help with a satellite phone; someone had looted our precious water cache. (At my boot tips lay ancient shards of broken water vessels, the relics of some other ill-starred Silk Road caravan.) Seven months ago: A strong-handed sorceress outside the cemetery gates in old Kokand rubbed cotton ash across my chest, banishing every imaginary ailment but the real one, loneliness.