First Part of Trip, Impressions
second Part of Trip, Impressions
2021 09 Trans the trail day 28
Why can't we just ride on. Now after we got used to it, to the dayly routine, the horses, each other, the adrenaline, the joy, the struggle, the fatigue, the beautiful mountains, the unspeakable language, the vegetable and patato reach diet, the sparkling wine, the welcoming smile of the hostesses, the thumbs up and sparkling eyes of The elder men hearing about our adventure.
Why does it have to end?
But it does end tomorrow. We have covered close to 800 km from one end of Georgia to the other, staying as close as possible to the highest peaks of the Caucasian range. Omitting only the occupied territory. Sometimes only 3 km away from the Russian border, above 3200 m and assending more than 26000 m in total. Two reasons, we finish our ride here, one the trail we wanted to take, is not possible for horses. And if Georgiens tell us that, we listen, cause we know what it looks like when they say it's difficult but doable. The second reason, we had snow today on 2940 m and it is forcast that it is continuing to snow and rain the next 4 days. Alternative would be to continue on blacktop going further west and south, but that is no fun and the horses deserve better, than that. So tomorrow after breakfast we will get a truck load up the horses, get ourself a taxi and say good bye. Our deepest respect and admiration for the three Tuchetien horses. They did an incredible job. And thanks to Lasha our guyde and translator, who is one of the best guides we ever met.
The weather was dry this morning so we took one last mountain pass under our hoofs assending to 2940 m, passing by a couple lakes, where we had lunch. At 2 we had reached the summit, the horses carrying us up to 2750 m, after that we hung on their tales. 3 hours of walking down hill till we hit the village we were to brake camp. The mountains were just magnificent with their dust of snow. We staked the horses on a community pasture and found a guesthouse that served us dinner. Right now it's raining again and it's time to call it quits. Happy trails to all.
2021 09 Trans Caucasian trail
It rained all night and till 8 am in the morning, which ment we stayed in our sleeping bags till that time. I hate to saddle up in the rain and since we all agreed on this, we did not ride of till about 10. A dog who had joined us the evening before had slept at the foot end of our matt's and was eagerly devouring the bred we fed her for breakfast. It was a 20 min walk to the next village where we had some coffee and joghurt for our 2. breakfast. It started raining again and did not stop till about 4 in the afternoon. Every branch gave us a gift of water, as we climbed up the pass
And soaked and cold we decended towards Mestia, at maybe 4 above 0 celcius. Deciding to take the shortest way possible. We reached Metsia at 5 pm and Lasha had organized for us to be picked up by the owner of a guesthouse that provided grazing for the horses. He came with a small Mitsubishi truck and while Tina was sitting next to the driver, Lasha and I sat in the back of the flatbed and held the rains of our horses, while Tina's horse was trotting free behind the other two. We reached the guesthouse and enjoyed a hot shower, hot tea and later a good meal, before we settled in our beds.
2021 09 Trans Caucasian trail
It was clear sky in the morning so I got up to take pictures of the glacier of the biggest mountain of Georgia. The host had washed our clothes and they were drying at the woodstove in the kitchen.
She was preparing our breakfast of salad, fried patatos and scrambled eggs, including pancakes and the famous cheese cornmeal hashbrowns.
They had build a nice guesthouse with 6 rooms a big living dining room at the entrance and a huge bathroom at the other end. The bathroom was all tiled in black marble imitate, floor and walls, just 60 cm below the ceiling and the ceiling itself was white. There was a white porcelain wash sinc, European toilet and a shower. The water running free to the center of the room, where it drained into the subfloor. Astonishing, but not really comfy cause it was very cold and even the hot water, did nothing to change the temperature.
The owner was a important border police man, it seems he got a good salary. He explained to Lasha how to get to Mestia our next destination.
We followed his advice and rode down the road
Till we turned off into a valley taking us to the village of Khalde. Khalde is an important place in the history of Georgia, since it is an heroic example of the Georgian resistance against the Russian empire. In 1871 the Russian Zsar had implemented a new tax system and sent collectors to the Georgian village. The village resisted and 14 men were taken to prison for it.
Two men were able to avoid to be imprisoned and they called to arms. The village had many towers
And stone houses, and when the Zsar sent 250 soldiers in 1879 under a General, they suffered a historic defeat. 2500 soldiers were sent to subdue the rebellion with heavy artillery, and the entire village was flattened, the church blown up, and the men fled into the mountains. The Russians gathered the families of the running men and so forced them to surrender. They all were shipped off to eastern Sybiria. Only 2 of them returned years later, to rebuild their village.
We continued riding up the valley till the trail turned to the left up to the pass. All way we had an amazing view of the glacier and as we reached the summit two more giant glaciers came into view. We camped near Agushi, so the horses would have decent feed.
2021 09 Trans Caucasian trail
Today was relax day. 20 km and just dirt road to follow. One pass of 2610 m and from there down to the village of Ushkuli. And right at the entrance of the village, that was protected like the end of the long drawn village by a stone tower, there was a guest house, that welcomed us. We went to a small store that supplied us for the next three days and feasted on the Georgian.
2021 09 Trans Caucasian trail day 24
We should have concluded that there must at one time have been a road up here, in sight of the buildings and the well we found. But we did not and stumbled for another km in the riverbed, before we had to climbed up the bank, caus of heavy white water in front of us, when we hit on the 90year old road that had not been used for at least 30years. Before deserting the place the took all wooden beams and all the roofing down to build a new village further down in the region, as we later found out. Happy to follow a trail which ment we would be making 3 to 4 km an hour, instead of 1ti 2inthe riverbed, we found ourself faced with roaring rivers that hat cut deep ravines into the side of the valley we where following. We had three joices every time, climbing up the side if the river till we could cross it, climbed down and try to furt it or just climbed down the wall and up the other side which was Lashas preferred method. So we did some more climbing and sliding, while the horses acted as if it was their dayly bread. Finally we were down at the riverbed again, crossing it meant 1m of roaring grey water under neath you when we finally reached the road at about two o clock in the afternoon. 5min later we run into a man cutting hay and when we told him where we had started and where we had come from his eyes lit up and he gave us a big thumbs up grinning over his whole face. We came to a newly built cement road and followed it leaving our river, carrying it's grey water to the black see. Finally we reached the turnoff to the village Zeskho hat was on the hiking signs. And from there it was supposed to be only to more ours to Tsana the village that was promised to have a guesthouse. Since we only had the iron ration left, we needed to find a meal tonight and preferably a roof over our head, cause all we had worn was socking wet. When we reached Tsana, there was a guest house but it was dark and closed. We asked the three people living in the village if they would accommodate us, but no of them were eager to help, the most accessable person, an elderly lady, that wore a very alternative set of clothes, said she could not help us cause she only had one room to herself.
After we tried the other two gents, returning from the end of the village, she was waiting at the side if the road which I took as a good sign. Lasha and her got into a conversation, that I could not follow, but while they were discussing things, like we would be happy with some tea and bread, a car pulled up with a family, and the husband immediately inquiring what was going on. And after evaluating the situation declaring that the elderly lady was going to supply us with food, helped by his own wife, and we would sleep on the porch of the guesthouse while the horses would be grazing around the house. He spoke and disappeared. When we had taken down the gear and settled ourselves in the porch the elderly lady called and we sat on her Terrassa, being served fish, mashrooms and french fries, plus tchishdver, no spelling mistake here, a local corn cheese hashbrown, tomato salade, two different wines and tchatcha (schnapps). Coffee and tea following. The lady's name was Merry and she was not related to the gentleman who commanded the situation. She and the lady who supplied some food also, (she was very good looking) and spoke fluent english - her sister had married, living in Chicago, but she had not visited yet, because she could not obtain a visa to the US - both sat down with us at the table and we heard stories about the village and her Sister, while the kids were getting a ride in our horses. We explained the saying that strangers are just friends you have not met yet, and how happy we were to enjoy Georgian hospitality. After having tasted and commented on the wine the younger lady went back to her family and when I started cleaning up the table I was told by the elderly woman, in no uncertain terms, that no I should not meddle in her job of cleaning up. She brought us bread and cheese, candies and apples she had gathered herself, for breakfast and lunch the next day and told us how to access the toilet in the guesthouse.