Pakistan

I won't go into the details of returning to Pakistan -- the map on the "Escape" page outlines the route. The only thing that worried me was the fact that I had once been deported from the country. Would they even let me back in? Another question was the legality of overland travel across the India Pakistan border, which is sometimes impossible during certain political flare ups between the two countries.
But I needn't have worried. I slipped through the east -west Punjab border with no issues, then cycled north through Rawalpindi, along the Grand Trunk Road, and on to the remote northern reaches of Pakistan.
The truck drivers along the Grand Trunk Road often stopped to pose with my bicycle. Pakistani life must be pretty boring!
Finding enough safe food to eat was a constant problem. Here's a guy scraping meat off water buffalo heads. No thanks.
"Come in . . . have some raw, unrefrigerated goat meat!"
Once I reached the foothills of the Karakoram Mountains, the traffic all but disappeared, as did the towns. I lived mostly on local bread called roti, which was available at the few small villages along the route.
The sign says, "Relax, slide area ends, have a nice drive."
But . . . around the next bend, a massive landslide completely blocked the Karakoram Highway. I had to carry my gear over the blockage in stages.
I didn't see any traffic for days after leaving the landslide, and the Karakoram Highway became quite secluded. Even though the climb was relentless, I think it was the most picturesque part of the world I experienced throughout the entire journey.
Rawalpindi, where the increase in altitude begins, lies at 500 meters. The pass I was headed for which marks the border between Pakistan and China, the Khunjerab Pass, stands at 5,000 meters. It amounted to nearly a month of almost constant climbing.
When snow-capped peaks appeared in the distance, I knew the sweatshirts I picked up in Nepal would soon come in handy.
Readers of the book will know about the constant problems I had with repairs. I was missing one crucial tool to remove my freewheel (thanks to the Italian robbery). In the mountain town of Gilgit, I found a man to make the tool for me on his metal lathe.
"Mr. Saleem is very expert -- he brought this machine to Gilgit!" This is actually Saleem's assistant, sizing up my bottom bracket to see how to fashion the tool.
And here's the tool, which I still have to this day. It's one of the few items that survived the journey home. Without the repair to my bottom bracket, I would not have been able to continue.

I think the entire town watched me make the repair with Mr. Saleem's tool, including Mr. Saleem.
I stayed several days in Gilgit, and I wish more photos survived. It really was a beautiful town. Was then anyway. Many of the places I visited have been completely transformed by tourism in the intervening years.
I left Gilgit in early May, having covered 20,000 miles in almost two years. The road continued upward toward the distant white peaks, and at times huge ice flows covered the road. Some were so massive that an ice tunnel had been cut through to allow traffic to pass. Although, the only shot I have is of that wimpy one propping up my bike.
That funky jacket is the only thing I could find in Gilgit, but I knew I'd need it before the top.
I'm wearing everything I own. Altitude, 4,000 meters.
This is a ranger outpost in the Khunjerab Security Zone bordering China. They found me camped in a blizzard and brought me down the mountain to their base. 
In the morning the blizzard had cleared, so I hopped on my bike and made for the Khunjerab Pass, 20 kilometers straight toward the sky.
And this is it, the Khunjerab Pass at 4,600 meters. Next stop . . . China!


On to China