Ying to yesterday's yang. Heat, headwind, hills, illness and poor legs made today one of the most difficult of the trip. Was up early and on the road by 7am after a quick breakfast. It was already stifling by 8.30am at my first passport control, and by midday I'd covered 70kms. The villages were few and hill climbs longer and steeper than days before. The 30kms leading into Kailachum were really tough, and I stopped frequently to put my head under every available water source. With temperatures deep into the 40s the climb of Tavildara Pass was excruciating.
Late in the day I stopped for a drink of water and fainted by the side of the road. I could feel my legs go and there was nothing I could do to regain my footing. Thankfully I was on a patch of grass when it happened which saved further damage. The incident prompted me to find somewhere to sleep immediately - it's not the Hilton but at least the tent is mosquito proof unlike last night.
I am still a fair way from Dushanbe but if my legs improve I'm still a chance to make it to Dushanbe for my birthday. But the reality is that I am incredibly drained and dispirited. I am also getting signals that I am nearing a city. The drivers are becoming more impatient, the traffic more frequent and the bewilderment at my presence negated. I had a couple of close calls with cars today and the helmet is back on permanently. The other negative of the approach to Dushanbe is that it's getting hotter as I lose altitude. Likely to be a thirst couple of days...