After our scare on Mezari with insufficient food and water, this time we came prepared. We asked for packed lunch from our guesthouse (they only packed us, each, a kachapuri, an apple, a whole cucumber and a whole tomato..... we took the kachapuri and apple).
This trail starts from Mestia, so marshrutkas and non-English speaking drivers are unnecessary :) From the town centre to the start of trail took 10-15 minutes, with us taking a wrong route and doubling back.
This hike was rated "Difficult", with steep gradients averaging 11-12%. To me, the most challenging part was getting a solid footing on the loose stones. At particularly slippy areas, I had to get down on all fours otherwise I would fall splat on my face! This was while ascending - can you imagine the terrors of going DOWN the slippery slope?!
This is another beautiful trail in Georgia (all of them are, really!), and still very different from Mazeri. In Mazeri, the highlights were the alpine forest, here we have vast rolling hills, and quaint wooded forest complete with stiles - scenes straight out of children's storybook. The day itself was pleasant for hiking - cloudy, with drizzles of rain.
The Cross is a halfway point to the Koruldi Lakes. Total hiking time to the Koruldi lakes is estimated 7-8 hours. Most opt to camp in Koruldi Lakes for a night and head back the next day.
We met this Ukrainian couple who are set to camp for the hike to Koruldi Lakes.
The hike took us 3.5 hours one way (done leisurely as we went off-trail to photograph, should be faster for some) to reach The Cross.
Panorama at The Cross. The base of the actual Cross is taller than my head! I had wanted to do a pole pose on it, hehe but couldn't even reach the pole. Here, you get a great bird's eye view of Mestia town. At this point, it started pouring heavily. We sought shelter under a viewpoint structure -with a stray dog that followed us up the hike. We shared our kachapuri with the dog (it seemed to enjoy the bread). It got colder from the rain, and we decided to start our dreaded descend - which took another 3.5 hours, for a total of 7 hours hiking time. This being our longest hike in Georgia.