Just on the day when we wanted to cross a high pass, it looked as if the evening, night and morning rain would not stop. But what else can one do but put on rain gear, open the umbrella (I belong to the rare species of hiker with an umbrella, which I find much more pleasant than just rain gear) and start walking.
We first had to walk back along the road for quite a distance and then cross the big river on a bridge, continue back further on the other side of the river before going up the mountain. I remembered that we had driven through various rivers by car the day before and was already afraid of multiple crossings. And the first one came just a few hundred metres after the start.
Otherwise, it went quite nicely along the valley with cows on the sides.
We passed the village of Parsma. That would have been ideal for an overnight stay for this tour, but there were no accommodations there or they were not open yet. At least there was a small bridge at the “road river” there. I would be very much in favour of building more of them across these rivers on the hiking trails in this area, I’m not a big fan of river crossings.
And then came the big bridge and we were on the other side of the river, walking through colourful flowering meadows. Unfortunately, the colourful flowering meadows were very wet in the rain and my inadequate walking shoes quickly got quite wet. I envied the other two for their better shoes (for long-term trips with hikes I still stick to my little soft boots in which I also like to walk well through cities and such), but in the end they didn’t hold either and so I was somewhat reconciled again. It was just too wet.
And then we finally reached the point where we went up to the pass. I forgot to measure at the bottom, but it was probably about 900 metres up. But despite the rain, we could at least see the landscape a bit and it still looked great.
The path was quite great. Further up, there were large fields of flowering rhododendrons, very beautiful. And we were lucky: there were 2 breaks in the rain and we took these as breaks, too and ate something. There were really no shelters anywhere, not even through rocks, and breaks to eat in the rain are really stupid, even with an umbrella. And without food and breaks it would have been much too strenuous for me.
In the last two pictures there are small dots that look like walkers – and there were! So we were not the only ones. And as it always happens, we met at the pass by chance. That was practical, because we could then take photos of each other. The two were young men from Leipzig and had stayed in the same guesthouse. They had very little luggage with them and only runners, but they were very quick on their feet.
When we met at the top, one of them immediately exclaimed “respect” when he saw that it was me he was meeting up here. “Still climbing such heights at this age!” I was irritated – do I look 85 by now? No, he thinks everyone that is over 50 and runs up such mountains is great and hopes that he himself is still so fit at that age. I continue to be irritated. Even at 59, I don’t feel remarkable. In fact, I still feel like I’m hiking at a similar level to when I was 40, i.e. conditionally. Anyhow, I feel I have to hurry up with my walks, i.e. walk as much as possible before it gets really difficult. but there’s something anyhow about getting “respect” that makes me happy.
The pass is called Nakhaicho Pass and is 2,900 m high. It is not particularly marked and on such a wide grassy plateau.
It was a bit frustrating up there – such a beautiful landscape! My mountain heart actually leapt with happiness – only not quite as high, because it was just all wet and thus no joy to linger or jump around. And we had to get everything down again, too. In the process, we passed many, many cows.
Actually, it was paradise here. But unfortunately it was wet. And in this paradise there were also a few ruins with a house from which smoke was rising. My first thought was: oh how beautiful, that might be something for a tea invitation. But we were not in India, we were in Tusheti. And there were dogs instead of tea. And what dogs! They came yapping at us, full of nasty aggressiveness. We quickly reacted with sticks and mighty behaviour and they refrained from attacking us for the time being. However, the terrain did not really allow for a diversion and we actually had to continue through their territory. A man came out of the house and called the dogs to him, but seemed rather annoyed and hesitant. Not nice. The guys from Leipzig told us that they also had good difficulties and that one of the dogs practically attacked one of them and was only stopped by the owner at the last moment.
I was a bit glad to have seen again that you can keep these dogs in check. As I continued downhill, however, I noticed how tired I was and how my energy had left me. These wet feet, the metres in altitude, the few breaks, it made me tired.
But there were still 3 obstacles in the form of a river. It was quite swollen and it didn’t look like a good idea to cross it barefoot. I didn’t want to sacrifice my thin runners now, they were so nice and dry in my backpack and I was looking forward to putting them on my feet later. In general, the first river crossing didn’t look so easy and because my feet were already wet anyway, I went through with the hiking boots. And learned: it was even wetter than wet. But nevertheless there was better footing and I arrived safely on the other bank. And soon after, the river had to be crossed twice more. At least you save time if you don’t take your shoes off. My adrenalin had risen a bit again and I then also managed the last kilometre of descent. I was so happy when I saw houses!
In Jvarboseli (in the back of the picture) there was the only open guesthouse in the area. It was nice on the one hand and the best bonus: they had a nice firewood stove where I could dry my shoes and get warm. However, there was only soup and no other hot food and it was more expensive (without offering more) and the people a bit more business-like than just hospitable. So not really bad, it was more nuances compared to the other accommodation, but still noticeable.
I thought I would give up here. For the last day, 21 km were planned, more altitude and zero hours of sun. And how were my shoes and socks supposed to dry in time despite the oven? The other two told me that I was doing a good job. Well, let’s get some sleep and make a decision in the morning. What would it be?