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Part 2 - Across the Pamirs

In all, Hayward made four attempts to enter the lands of his destination.  His first thought was to follow the track north from the Khyber garrison town of Peshawar through the states of Dir and Chitral and the Wakhan corridor.  He correctly believed it was the shortest and most direct route from India to Sinkiang.  However, when the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab province heard of the plan, he forbid Hayward to move in that direction, calling it "absolute madness". The route was closed, had been closed for over 30 years, and would remain closed for another quarter century.  Not because of the height of the passes, or the lack of supplies available. Because of the inhabitants along the way. Not only did the early route take the traveler through the lands of some of the most warlike of the warlike Pathan, but later stages went smack dab through the middle of the country of the fanatically Islamic and anti-British Akhund of Swat. 

According to the native troops, the Chitralis, next in line, were quite the most bloodthirsty and treacherous of all tribes, and even once past them, crossing over the Hindu Kush, Hayward would have to contend with the Wakhis and the Kirghiz. The latter, owing allegiance to the Russians making inroads at Khokand, would be needed to be placated for all travel across the Pamir plateau.  Hayward, no doubt learning from and leaning on the advice of the aging Scottish-American mercenary Alexander Gardiner, whom he'd met in Srinigar, planned to make the trip disguised as a Pathan trader. Tall and gaunt, and with a smattering of Pushtu picked up during his Army years, Hayward might have looked the part for a brief moment, but with his breech-loading rifles, surveying gear and drawing material, he would have had a tough time convincing a European, let along another Pathan. Luckily, he was talked out of this scheme. Gardiner, talked of here, had claimed to have made a similar trip in the 1840s but there was no proof for this amazing claim, and he was known to have been a bit of a tall-tale teller anyway...

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Hayward had written back to Rawlinson and the RGS in November of 1869: 

"I am leaving here for Gilgit tomorrow in the hope of being able to penetrate the Pamir steppe and the sources of the Oxus from that frontier. . . The officials here maintain the risk to be great and give a very bad character to the tribes inhabiting the head of the Gilgit and Yasin valleys.  Although not so fanatical as the Mohammedans further west they are sufficiently untrustworthy to render success very doubtful and it is quite possible that I may be a second time foiled in my attempt to penetrate to the Pamir. The danger is certainly great. . . . Whether I shall be able to cross the passes at the head of Gilgit before the spring of next year is doubtful"

 

Coming from Hayward, who appeared to have been pathologically unable to recognize danger when he saw it, this was an alarming letter. In a postcript, he warned the the person most opposed to his travels was the ruling Maharajah of Kashmir.  This potentate was being courted royally by the British, who desperately needed his cooperation to make Kashmir a British-influenced buffer area between India and the encroaching Russians. The Maharajah was the stereotypical Oriental despot, unfortunately, and ruled his kinddom with an violent iron fist. The letter was read to the Society in January 1870, and in the ensuing months more letters arrived and were read eagerly by Rawlinson, but interestingly, were neither made public nor even read to the Society's members. He described in detail his findings, including information about the tribes in the area that proved invaluable to Rawlinson's political agenda. The Council of the Society wanted to minimize their explicit ties to him, but absorbed with feverish exuberance stirring tales of his narrow escapes, hardships, and findings. They voted him another  300 travelling money, and in July, went into their summer recess. They all wondered if their indefatigable explorer would be able to continue his amazing trek across the most forbidding mountain terrain in the world.

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