It continued to rain most of the night and our raingear and other things were still very wet when we woke up. I am a Stoic and take such things in stride, especially on our last day when we could carry out a few wet clothes. But Marcia was not pleased. Fortunately, the rain pretty much stopped around the time we had to begin walking.
Our last day of hiking was a mostly level walk down the Inylchek valley left behind when the glacier receded. At one stretch, however, we had to climb high up a steep bank to avoid the river. This stretch was very slippery due to the rain, but we somehow made it through.
Soon after that at the planned trailhead called At-Jailoo, we rejoiced to see our vehicle coming up the valley to meet us. This was the same six-wheel-drive ex-Soviet military transport that had taken us out on Day 1, and now its serious power was clearly needed, as there was no road for the next 30 kilometers.
With fresh food, we had an excellent lunch. The jeep also brought a bottle of vodka, which we quickly drained in toasts to our successful trip.
The plan had been to camp there and drive back the next day. But since some of the porters were also cold with wet sleeping bags, everyone agreed we should try to drive back rather than spending another night in the tent. The drive was seven hours, but we'd be glad to have a shower and a bed, no matter how late.
But nature soon blocked us. The jeep track climbed a slope above the river, often very steeply. In one place, even the six-wheel drive was insufficient and our team had to get out and put branches over the mud.
And then we reached a mudslide that had happened in the few hours since the jeep passed the other direction. A large tree was blocking the road and even the jeep's 6-ton winch couldn't move it. After several attempts, we backed down the road to a place where we could turn around and went back almost to the trailhead, where we could abandon the track and just drive right down the river bed. By this time we had lost three hours and it was getting dark.
Rather than drive all night through challenging terrain, we all agreed to stop and spend the night in and alongside the vehicle. We'll try again in the morning.