Photo of the Day: Traffic Jam on the Karakoram Highway

Karakoram Highway

Karakoram Highway

The Karakoram Highway, connecting China and Pakistan, is the highest international highway in the world, with an average elevation of over 13,000 feet. Yet, in many places it can hardly be called a highway. When we were last there, we ended up in a long traffic jam of trucks, buses, Jeeps, and pick-ups. After over an hour of waiting, we finally got up close enough to the source of the jam to see what the fuss was all about. This is the scene.

The highway had been washed out by a river, leaving the road strewn with gravel and boulders nearly the size of a small car. Since there was only one narrow path winding through the boulders on the riverbed, all of the vehicles had to take turns making the crossing, which is what you see in the photo above. The white Land Rover is just finishing the crossing, while the eighteen wheeler waits its turn. More than one hundred vehicles were lined up behind the eighteen wheeler. The backhoe is there to dig cars out in case they get stuck. To the right of the photo, but just out of camera range, is a cliff that went straight down for about a thousand feet.

(Note that the photo negative was damaged courtesy an X-ray machine at the Kashgar Train Station–it is still one of my favorites, though.)

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