Our trip starts from a small village at the mouth of the Tavaksay River. A few days ago, snow fell, and now the snow cover reaches our knees. The one who walks first and leads the group is making the path. This is the most difficult work. There is nobody around, it is still, everything is covered with a snow blanket, and we feel the presence of magic around. We are in for our first 45-degrees rise.
After the rise, we see the snow plain again. We are already at the height of more than 1,200 metres above sea level; we can see mountain ridges and snow tops at the horizon, and some of the mountain tops are enveloped in clouds. We are trying to step into each other’s steps — this method of walking is safer and faster. We must find Verbludka Hill.
Verbludka Hill is our main reference point. It can be seen from afar, when I drive on this highway to remote towns. In winter, Verbludka Hill looks like a white beacon with trees on it, and in spring the hill becomes green and covered with flowers. We make a small pause and begin to walk round it: this will save our strength.
Far away on the horizon, we see Bolshoy Chimgan Mountain (3,309 metres asl), which is one of the highest mountains in this area. Hikers have a tradition of mounting it once a year. It hosts not all. But those who are able to reach its top prove to themselves that borders do not intimidate them, and they are always ready to overcome them.
We carefully find a path leading to the waterfall under the snow. It is very narrow, and the snow there is not so packed: a couple of times, I nearly fell into the river from it. The main thing is to take our time and walk to the main goal step by step. Not all the members of our group were able to reach the waterfall: the chute to it was very steep, and that required experience.
Some hikers notice a beautiful sight: snowflakes have precipitated in the middle of the creek on the tips of the plant leaves, and frost has shaped them like small flowers. Although it seems to us that there is a borderline here between land and water, these flowers are like a bridge between these two banks.
We reach the gorge with one of the most magnificent waterfalls on the Tavaksay River. The 30-metre deep gorge is very steep: on its bottom, a swift river is flowing, which never gets frozen in winter. It originates in Kazakhstan and then comes to Uzbekistan, cutting through the mountains, the natural border.
We see a rare natural phenomenon in the sky: clouds form their boundary and descend to the top of Verbludka Hill. It looks like nature itself is playing with our imagination. 15 minutes after, the clouds dissipate. We take advantage of the time and continue descending to the waterfall.
The waterfall is the main goal of our hike. In the territory of Uzbekistan, the river displays all its beauty, and this waterfall is part of it. Beautiful long icicles are formed by the energy of its splashes. They look like guards of all this beauty.
As we return, we see another gift from Mother Nature: a solar halo, a mock sun. It is a great luck to see it. We catch this gift with the lenses of our cameras, until the nature takes it away. We continue our way parallel to the river towards the village.
On the way, we encounter another waterfall, a small one. I feel tired but happy, because I have been able to discover something new. The sun sets, a shadow comes into the gorge, and the air temperature drops.
Our one-day trip ends in the village, where we admire the sunset.