There and back again.

Wow!  What an adventure.  Pakistan certainly proved to be one those far-flung corners of our planet.  Clint and I finished up our time in Pakistan with a wild 2 LOOOONG day jeep ride over SANY0629the high desolate Deosai Plains east of Nanga Parbat.  We met up with another American David who was doing a big mountain biking tour with Zafar our guide.  Clint wanted to take a side excursion down to  India-controlled Kashmir to capture Kargil in a sneak attack, just like Musharraf did back in ’99.  I had to talk him out of it citing that would take a little too much time.  So we continued on down through Astore and met up with the would famous Karakoram Highway.  We were originally scheduled to drive down the KKH to Islamabad the following day.  After a cursory review of David’s itinerary, we realized that if we immediately hit the road and put the pedal to the medal for 16 hours, David would barely catch his flight out of the country.  The KKH is very bumpy, very twisty, and has 178,000 police checkpoints due the to security situation.  Our intrepid driver made fine work of this 600 kilometer challenge and we renamed our Jesus Handles “Allah Ak-Bars.”  For several hours in the middle of the night, we gave a ride to a traveling police officer so we even had our own bodyguard!

We arrived in Islamabad worn-out, but not so tired that we couldn’t do a little partying.  While in Kaphlu, Clint and I had met a guy named Ashley who works for the Air Force at the U.S. Embassy.  He invited us out to the Canadian Club for wings specials and happy hour.  As we hadn’t had a drop of beer in over a month, we were lightweights.  Then we were off to the French Club for a late-night dance party.  Clint was in his best form as he took a running start across the dance floor, leaped over the Jamaican contingent, and cannonballed into the pool.  The security was not pleased.

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The following day, after a late start, we met Zafar for a great lunch at an Afghani restaurant and met some local Pakistani friends of friends.  That night we were off the check out the party at the Marines’ Club on the American compound.  While this resembled a wild frat party, I managed to keep Clint out of the pool.  Then it we were off directly to the airport.  Getting through ticketing, security, and immigration was confusing and nerve-racking.   I thought I was going to have to leave Clint at the security checkpoint, where an irate officer pulled pitons out of his  bags.  Only a true dirtbag climber would put all of his solid metal equipment in his carry-on luggage.  I clearly remember Clint frantically jumping up and down trying to demonstrate that, however hard he tried, he cut not cut through his hand with a BD Lost Arrow.  I was reminded of those weird wind-up monkey dolls that bang cymbals together; that’s when I knew it was really getting strange.  I began having paranoid feelings that they just might not let us out of the country!  I blamed it on bad Moosehead beer at the Marines’ Club.  Anyhow we narrowly made the plane, literally the last ones on.  Clint and I went our separate ways at the Abu Dhabi airport; he to Cairo and myself direct to Chicago.  As I would soon be in the clear, I wished Clint best of luck, silently thinking that he would definitely need it in order to avoid ending up in some cesspool Egyptian jail.

The rest of my journey went by smoothly finishing up with a beautiful drive across the state of Colorado amidst the height of fall colors.  My truck rolled up the the house just in time for dinner.  Lindsay had prepared an incredible pork roast, most definitely not Halal, and cold IPA was waiting.  I am a lackluster Muslim.  Yesterday I briefly talked to Clint, through spotty cell service.  He had arrived safely home and through some small miracle, even his bag of confiscated pitons had made it back as well.  It was a great adventure to visit the wonderful and amazing country of Pakistan.  And it was also great to come home!

In a few weeks we should have a slideshow and a video put together of all the adventures…

One response to “There and back again.”

  1. Mom

    So glad you are home safe and sound. Be very proud of what you accomplished while you were there! We are!

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Alpine Edge Engineering, LLC
Matthew D. Hepp, P.E.
605 River Park Drive
Ridgway, Colorado
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