WEEK 7: our accidental club

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Sam and I started a club and didn’t even mean to.

To be fair, we haven’t actually started calling it a club, but I think both of us think of it as a club.

What started as a little group of folks who every so often like to escape the coal-smoke and icy sidewalks that plague Almaty all winter has grown to become a once-weekly mountain hiking adventure. It’s our “Sunday Hiking Club.”

And it’s not just for Americans. We’ve collected a lovely little bunch of expats for these Sunday hikes. Together we climb through pine forests and up steep, snowy inclines to vistas 8- or 9-thousand feet above sea level. If we’re lucky, and the day is clear, we can see wisps of snow-capped mountains more than 100 km away, looking like clouds, or almost like some other nearby planetary body.

We eat our lunches standing up, in a small circle. We share tea and dried apricots, peanut butter sandwiches (or Vegemite sandwiches). Mishka makes the rounds, pushing her cold nose into backpacks and lunch sacks, hoping for a handout.

And even though they’re only a few hours long, every hike is at once inspiring and therapeutic. And the air! My god so clean! And lacking in oxygen, ha-HA! Come! Come drink with us—sip on the sweetness that is endorphins and elevation!

{Above: The view from the “Helicopter Pad.” Photograph by Janell Wright.}

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