The relaunch of the Out of Eden Walk in Central Asia has not been without hiccups.
First, barely two days before departing, while chewing into breakfast in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, I cracked a molar in half. (“I’ll try to get you to India,” the dental surgeon said, doubtfully.) Then mountain guide Sergei Gnezdilov fell ill with adult-onset chicken pox and had to abandon the trail, swollen in misery, for a hospital in the capital. Our first (and quickly retired) Kyrgyz cargo donkey bit a team member in the crotch. And after crossing the Tajikistan border, our second pack donkey escaped not once, but twice, in the same evening—the second time into an ice storm howling above 14,000 feet.
“Woooooo! Cool!” hooted Furough Shakarmamadova, pumping her arms in the air in triumph when at last we found our long-eared Houdini by hiring a truck to conduct a reconnaissance. (The donkey had trotted all the way back to the Kyrgyz border, a day’s walk away, and was detained by alert border guards.)