This is the first line-hunting in Kazakhstan by Ray of the Yip-Bannicq group together with three friends who are based in Almaty – Maureen Sinclair, Tom Fallon, and Ayadil Saparbekov. All three were first-time line hunters.
The trip started at 8 am, on the last day of Ray’s bike trip in Central Asia. There was a time line of 4 pm to catch a flight to Beijing. 43N-76E is located near the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan about 100 km from Almaty which appears to be a feasible hunt given the 6-7 hours we had. From the not-so-detailed map, it also appeared that the point was located in a relatively flat area (this turned out not to be the case).
The map in Ray’s GPS was able to bring the hunting party within 5 km from the point in a little over 2 hours through a series of scenic secondary roads. However, we entered the mountain areas in the last few kilometers.
We followed a direct road that was leading to Kyrgyzstan, and we ran into a true hunting party with real shot guns, and the side road they had picked in a narrow valley appeared to head toward the confluence point we were looking for.
As luck had it, we followed a winding path almost 2.5 km long after crossing a creek and it brought us to about 800 meters from the object of our hunt. Given this is a very remote and mountainous area, it was almost too good to be true to come this close by car.
Another major factor enabling us to drive this close to the point was the fact that Ayadil’s car is a well-tuned four-wheel drive jeep which was able to take on the rough back-country trail.
The remaining 800 meters turned out to be more challenging than expected. This was mainly because 43N-76E is located near the top of a ridge which required 300 meters of ascent on a slope with very dense bushes. To make things worse, some of the bushes were thorny, and some had stinging chemicals which made our skin swell upon touching.
Ray, the more experienced line hunter of the group actually made a serious mistake of wearing shorts, and pretty much made his legs and forearms a mess. The last 200 meters climb toward the confluence point were by far was the most difficult approach among all the 20 some line hunting he has done thus far.
The best reward of course was reaching the point with the spectacular view of the mountains in all four directions. The 800 meters round trip took the group almost an hour and a half. It was past 1 pm when the group returned to the Jeep near the entrance of the valley.
The starting point of the walk or entrance to the valley was an old yurt camp with the wooden frame of a yurt still left on the road side. It would be great if the camp or yurt were still standing so we could have learned about the life at the confluence point.
The nearest village from the confluence point is called Kactek. It has about 50 households, and located a little over 5 km from the confluence point on a flat plane.
The rest of the trip was a non-stop dash back to Almaty so Ray can catch his flight. He ended up reaching the airport with time to spare.
When Ray arrived home late that night, the rest of the Yip-Bannicq saw his scratched up arms and legs, and learned about the line-hunting trip, the comment was – “looks like this time the line got you”.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge: 4 – the last few hundred meters climb toward the confluence point in stinging and dense bush was a real punishment (Scale: 1 = very easy - drive to the point; to 5 = a death march – glad it is over)
Scenery: 4 – terrific view of colorful mountains under blue sky – central Asia outdoor at its best (Scale: 1 = not interesting at all; 5 = take your breath away)
Culture-social factors: 3 – passing a number of rural Kazak small towns but did not have time to learn more about them (Scale: 1 = dull; 5 = most stimulating)