An epic hike from Mestia to Ushguli with wonderful friends and shoes for a cow (August 2023)

Racki and I took our friend Zdenko with us from Batumi to the airport in Kutaisi to pick up my friend Serpentine from Germany.

I was super happy that Serpentine visited me again in my new nomadic traveling life. It’s just so cool to hang around with people you know for a long time and Serpentine and I had awesome ideas for her time in Georgia.

Together the four of us went up in the Caucasus mountains to Mestia in Rosinante and Thor.

We found an awesome camp spot and on the next day we went on our first hike up to the Koruldi Lake. The hike was nice and a friend of Zdenko had joined us as well.

Here is our tour on Komoot.

The next day we started our multi day hike from Mestia to Ushguli. It was super cool. We had our big backpacks with clothes, food and tents and the weather was perfect. On the way we managed to buy some additional supplies which turned out to be not so easy. There were only a few small shops of the locals where we could buy a few things.

First day on Komoot.

The second day we hiked until a famous river crossing. During the day I felt that tension arose in our group. The hiking pace and styles were pretty different and so we decided to split up and meet again later on the route. Although we found a way that worked, I did not feel so good about the dynamics of our group. But I did not manage to verbalize my concerns that good.

After Racki and I had arrived at the river crossing, we helped a young couple crossing that river. It was pretty tough and the girl, who was standing in the hip-deep, ice cold water was pretty much fucked up, shaking and absolutely grateful that we’d help them.

We stayed next to the river crossing and made the plan to cross it the next morning because in the morning it would be less deep and less hard to cross.

Second day on Komoot.

After I woke up on the third day, I wanted to go out of our tent to pee but could not find my shoes! I asked Racki if I had put my shoes on her side of our tent but they were not there as well. Together with Zdenko and Serpentine we searched the whole area but could not find my shoes. They were just gone. Including the socks which were lying on top of them. We thought that maybe the stray dog who had accompanied us last night took them, but we did not find any traces.

So I had lost my nearly new, super awesome (and expensive) La Sportiva hiking and mountaineering boots in the middle of our multi day hike. We never found out where my shoes had gone but started believing that a cow fell in love with a goat and to be able to follow her love in the mountains, she needed my mountaineering boots.

We did not have any spare shoes apart from Serpentine’s Flip Flops. So I took these in combination with my winter socks. Pretty good setup for the next 30 kilometers.

After searching for my shoes and breakfast we managed to cross that river. Even in the morning the water was so fucking cold! I used our gas stove to heat them up again. More and more people came to cross the river. Some did good, some not so good. Zdenko helped a lot by giving them out walking sticks. My feet were just too cold to help them! The locals came with horses and some hikers took that comfortable but more expensive approach.

One of the guys passing the river looked as if he had nearly my size of shoes. And he seemed to have special shoes only for the crossing. So I asked him if he would borrow me his shoes and he agreed! That was a pretty good upgrade: from Flip Flops to “water sneakers”. The soles of them had holes which did not help in muddy parts of the track but my feet never got sweaty in them. We had a nice dinner in a restaurant and found another nice camp spot.

Komoot had an error and deleted our third day.

The next day we continued our hike to our destination: Ushguli. It was a nice village in the mountains, famous for its stone towers.

Fourth day on Komoot.

After some sightseeing and cake we took a taxi back to Mestia. The drive was hilarious. Our drivers were about 24 years old and racing their Delica van over the gravel construction site roads. Deep cliffs on one side, high slate walls on the other. We had a lot of fun and motivated the guys to go faster. But only until we recognized that another guy who we had taken with us had become very silent and was not looking that good anymore.

When the thunder strikes you on the mountain high (May 2023)

I really love thunderstorms. The nice, exciting atmosphere, the rain, the dynamics of the wind…

But being inside of one just between the summits of the Karasay and the Eznevit at 3500 meters altitude was a very different experience.

When I started the ascent, the weather looked good and after some kilometers of walking on nearly flat ground the real ascent started. It was basically just going up, up, up the steep slope.

When I was about 200 meters away from the top, the thunderstorm rapidly arose and I was standing on the very steep, snow covered slope in my snow shoes and thought about what direction would be better. Up or down? No cover in any direction. So I decided to go up between the two summits to have at least a less steep place when the thunderstorm would hit me.

I found a tiny spot, sat down, wrapped myself in my emergency blanket to have some protection from the wind, hail, snow and whatever there is to come and looked in the direction of the approaching thunderstorm.

I saw big lightning hitting the rocks of the mountain in front of me and it looked so impressive. But after just a couple of minutes the view drastically deteriorated and everything went white and the storm was tugging and pushing my blanket.

But sitting in the blanket felt ok to me. The lightning did not close in on me which made me feel pretty safe. But still I had some interesting thoughts. For example, I thought if there is something I should do before I may die in this thunderstorm. I guess I was very far away from dying up there but still this thought occurred to me but I did not find anything and just continued sitting.

The whole time I had this song from East 17 on my mind: “When the thunder calls you, from the mountain’s high, it’s time to spread your wings and fly”.

After the thunderstorm had passed, I just ran/ slided down the slope and felt totally pumped.