The view from above
– 4 C / 25 F this morning! I know it felt this cold because any trip to the bathroom takes me outside into our courtyard. Although it was frosty, the sky had cleared and bright sunlight lit up the snow-covered mountains ringing Garm. It was the first time I really saw the beauty of the place. The town is ringed by mountains on three sides with the river Suhrob on the fourth. Across the river, anther line of mountains rises steeply from the river. The slopes facing Garm are completely devoid of trees and deeply gouged by decades of erosion. Landslides and mudslides are common in this valley, and deforestation is a major contributing factor.
Just before lunch I joined one of our drivers to climb a sloping hill that rises just above the northern edge of the town. We followed a winding path along muddy village roads and through people’s yards until connecting with a narrow path up the hill. Once above the town, the thin layer of grass and several natural embankments reminded me of Scotland. After 10 min we reached the first plateau, and looked back to see the valley containing Garm spread out below us, right up to the river. The Suhrob here is wide and shallow, with several winding channels visible between Garm and the opposite shore. Behind and around us towered the nearest range of mountains, covered in a coating of snow for most of their height. The highest of these is about 4000 meters (13,000 feet) – almost close enough to touch but not an easy climb.