treading along the Russian border – Zaqatala series 1

If it wasn’t for a series of events that brought us further from our planned destination Sheki, we wouldn’t have ended up in Zaqatala in the northern tip of Azerbaijan. After we spent the evening exploring the lovely town with ancient brick houses, meeting a rare foreign hippie with braided hair sitting on a bench next to a ruined church in the central park packed with families, we took a local bus on the next morning and started our hiking adventure.

s2016102311360875320SK.jpg

Figure 1: the local bus brought us to car village

Zaqatala is renowned for its production of hazelnuts. Once we got off at Car (pronounced at “Char) Village, we were immediately surrounded by the gigantic hazelnut trees which provided a comfortable shade from the late summer sun. The delicious nuts were wrapped in huge green hairy balls and hung on the branches like Christmas ornaments. We walked past the clay houses in the quiet village and soon entered into a dense hazelnut forest.

s201610231137367532OnW.jpg

Figure 2: the hazelnut forest

s201610231137097532BdQ.jpg

Figure 3: some of the hazelnut trees looked burnt

s201610231138057532bxc.jpg

Figure 4: heavy and bent branches

s2016102311540775322Gw.jpg

Figure 5: thriving on manual support

Toni and I had absolute confidence in our ability to navigate across the labyrinth like trail even though it couldn’t be found on our GPS. In fact, we didn’t even carry any food in our backpack, and we had less than one liter of water because we thought we could finish our hike in less than half of the day. However, as we ascended one steep slope followed by yet another steeper slope, the forest only became more and more dense. We stopped now and then to check our elevation on the GPS, but the reading from the barometer hardly changed. Sometimes we saw an empty vodka bottle and would comfort ourselves with the humanly traces, but the next moment we had to beat down the prickly bushes with our hiking sticks to continue walking.

s201610231138497532o7i.jpg

s2016102311391875321Fp.jpg

Figure 7: Toni looking stressed

It wasn’t until both of us were on the fringe of giving up, that we found the tree line abruptly disappearing, eventually revealing the vast grassland above and the thick forest beneath our eyes.

s201610231141217532Pa1.jpg

Figure 8: the magical moment when we came out of the tree line

s201610231142127532OuK.jpg

Figure 9: the steep hill

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s