Chilten Canyon and Soviet Uranium Mine

I went on an adventurous hike with long-time guides Boris and Vladimir near the mountain village of Yangiabad. We explored the Chilten River Canyon and as is typical on a Boris hike, it was a full-body workout. We started the morning by taking the upper trails, looking down upon a series of waterfalls cascading down the canyon. We walked about 3 kilometers on steep, narrow trails before moving down below. We climbed down and through the Chilten River, stopping for lunch and swimming as we went along. Scrambling over the rocks provided exercise for the whole body and I admire Vlad and Boris, both in their 70s, that they still can do these somewhat risky hikes and trails. The water temperature in late August was perfect and the views of the rocks, grasses/trees and blue sky were soothing for my soul.

Soviet Uranium Mine Tunnel

We had a bonus added to the day when we were joined by Elena, who is from the town of Yangiabad. The town during the Soviet times, was a “secret city” because of the nearby uranium mine. She led a tour around the town and even brought us up to one of the entrances to the mine. Authorities had closed the mine, but the locals opened it up and there were a couple of guys there. I am not sure what can be found in the long tunnels that can be found all around the town and into the hillsides. The tunnel we toured goes for approximately 4 kilometers and is full of side tunnels and drop-offs. Quite dangerous in my opinion. I was reading about the old uranium mines on native American reservations in northern Arizona and the radioactivity problems. I need to bring a Geiger Counter up with me the next time I go up there. A short visit is not dangerous, but long-term exposure, especially the dust, can have health effects. The temperature in the shaft was cool, probably in the 60s and reminded me of the abandoned iron ore tunnels and shafts of my home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Looking Down from the Mine Entrance to the Road to Yangiabad

It was such a nice day and I always feel refreshed after a day in the outdoors. A special thanks to Elena for showing us her village and the mine.

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