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Hiking in Mestia, a crazy adventure!
17 October 2015
After reuniting with Arwyn in Mestia, Igor and I decided to do a two day long hike in the Caucasus Mountains, spending the night in a tiny little village called Mazeri.
We set off in the morning expecting an eight hour long hike. That didn’t happen. Somehow we missed the first marked turn and found ourselves walking in a river that eventually ended up in a waterfall. While making our way, jumping on stones, we were very careful not to get wet. I tried not to get dirty as well. What an irony considering what was waiting ahead.
With or without trail to follow, we knew we needed to get to the top of the first mountain, so we just went for it, straight up, crawling through bushes, climbing steep slopes with nothing to hold on to but mud and sometimes some grass or thorny bushes.
When we finally got to the top we wandered around for an hour or two trying to find the trail again. Eventually we did. We lost a few hours but were still confident that we would make it to the village before dark
Now that we were back on the marked path again, some hours of easy hiking followed. It felt almost surreal walking in this beautiful landscape surrounded by the most stunning views. All we had to do was enjoy the scenery while talking about all and nothing.
Then we started climbing again. It was steep and we lost the trail a couple of times. The higher we got the colder it got. And then there was snow. It started to get dark.
When we finally reached the ridge we could see Mazeri (or at least we hoped it was Mazeri) down in the valley. We estimated it would take an hour or two to get there.
I grabbed a piece of sharp rock that I kept stabbing into the ground trying to slow down a little, didn’t help much
But of course we lost the trail again, we went back and forth but no marks were in sight. After debating for a while we decided to stop the search and try to get down as fast as possible. Staying on the snowy ridge in the dark was not an option. So in the same manner we started our day, we just went straight down, heading for the few lights we could see down in the valley.
It was getting dark fast. The first obstacle we had to overcome was a steep passage covered with gravel and rocks. It was hard not to lose control and fall headlong down since all the rolling stones made you slide faster and faster and there was nothing to hold on to. I grabbed a piece of sharp rock that I kept stabbing into the ground trying to slow down a little, didn’t help much.
The only light we had was the one from our phones
As we were sliding down we started to realize it was much further than we first thought, and when we finally got past that part it was completely dark. The only light we had was the one from our phones. We only used one at a time to save battery.
Stumbling through high grass, thorn bushes and stony parts we slowly made our way towards the village. We never seemed to get any closer though.
Then there were trees and we could no longer see the lights from the village.
Suddenly we realized that we had two big rivers on both sides of us. We thought of crossing one but it was too steep to get down to it and the river was too wide to cross anyway. The only option remaining was to continue straight ahead, so we did.
All of a sudden there was nothing in front of us but a big steep
The ground between the rivers became more and more narrow as the two rivers came closer together. All of a sudden there was nothing in front of us but a big steep. I must admit I could feel my heart rate increasing, standing there in the pitch dark on a cliff, surrounded by steeps and hearing the roaring waterfalls on both sides was pretty exciting.
We realized that we had to go back all the way to where we could actually cross one of the rivers, which could be somewhere up where we started. It took us so long to get to this point. Just the thought of climbing back up to try to find another way down, without knowing if we would get stuck again, felt exhausting.
But we tried.
Tired as we were we made a decision to spend the night right there
It was really difficult to navigate in the darkness and climbing up was even harder than going down. After a while we stopped. Tired as we were we made a decision to spend the night right there.
Since we were supposed to spend the night in a guesthouse, we had no sleeping bags or anything. Our shoes and socks were completely soaked. Luckily we both had an extra pair of dry socks. We also had rain clothes and a rain poncho to keep away most of the dump.
After making a provisional bed out of branches and leaves we tried to get some sleep. It was about -2°C and I can honestly say that I never in my life have been that cold. We still managed to dose in and out of sleep a few times until the first rays of sun hit us. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the sun.
It was difficult to walk because I couldn’t really feel my feet
My whole body was so stiff and for the first thirty minutes or so it was difficult to walk because I couldn’t really feel my feet. But slowly the heat came back to my body and I felt alive again.
We had to climb back almost all the way to where we started. We crossed the river, found a path and made our way down. It still took us more than five hours.
We got a lift with an old Soviet-20km/h-truck, pretty cool if you ask me
Dirty, bruised, scratched and pretty tired none of us felt the need to do any more hiking this day. Instead we hitchhiked back to Mestia. We got a lift with an old Soviet-20km/h-truck, pretty cool if you ask me.
I have always loved a good adventure and this hike was for sure one of them. I’m very glad that we both stayed calm and never lost our good mood. I will most definitely never ever forget this hike.
I will also be more prepared when going hiking in the future, because now I know for a fact that even on a marked, supposed to be eight hour hike, you can end up getting lost. And if you do get lost things could go terrible wrong. Luckily nothing happened and we are still alive 🙂
Over and out