A Walk in Lerik (with pictures!)
While Barack was busy giving Azerbaijan a US Ambassador, I was out scoping the Iranian border from Lerik with Josh, Sean, Sarah and Todd, taking three days to hike about 15 miles out of Lerik’s mountain town (no, I wasn’t actually that close to the Iranian border…it was at least 10 kilometers). And so you get pictures! We walked due south of Lerik, past Ambu village and around the range it sits on, towards Çayrud along a deep valley. We camped on a mountainside opposite Çayrud, and the next day headed further into the mountains, down into a valley, and then straight back up out of it near a village called Vizəzəminli. Staying the night there, we thought we might have a big hike the next day to get back to Lənkəran. If we tried to hike back to Lənkəran, then our suspicions would have been correct. Instead, it turned out we were about five kilometers from the main road between Lerik and Lənkəran, and we hitched our way back down to the city in time for a night train ride up to Baku the night before New Year’s Eve. Wow, that was a lot of travel.
A few highlights from the trip, and then pictures below. After leaving Lerik, we reached a village called Ambu. Here, we met to boys about 8-10 years fo age who helped tell us how to get around the ridge and towards Çayrüd. It was at this point that we realized that almost anyone we met was going to become an insta-guide for getting use anywhere. That night, we camped out and watched across the valley as Çayrud lit up on the opposite mountain face. It was spectacular and bizarre how village could find itself that high up in an isolated mountain range. How did they get there? And then decide that that was the best place to settle down? It’s got to be tough living. The following morning, we were greeted by a band of horses, about 10 of them, passing just above our camp site. They looked at us, we looked back at them, and then we decided it was time to move on. Beautiful, though. This second day, however, proved a test of our mettle. After scaling up and down a bit, we descended into a valley along the river. The river wound its way north and we followed it for a few hours, having to cross it anytime it made a turn, as the side we were on would inevitably turn into impassable sheer rock face. That was an adventure. And also where I found the pretty purple flowers pictured below. After wasting a lot of time crossing and re-crossing the river, we decided to head up. We crossed over a few big ridges to find ourselves hopelessly drowning in fallen leaves along steep mountainsides. And we had about an hour of real daylight left. Our spirits were reaching an irretrievable ebb. At this point, we weren’t sure what to do. I went up. Straight up, fighting the knee-deep leaves. Within minutes I found a dirt road winding along the mountain ridges: Success! Our other option had been to go back down into the valley, which would have led our spirits to both a physically and emotionally lower state.
After getting to the outskirts of a village about 20 minutes later, we pitched our tents and had the fire roaring. At this point, we were visited by seemingly the entire male population of this 26-house village. They all wanted to know what was going on. And they offered to bring us all tea, which was very hospitable of them. We declined. And then a few men visited us later on, asking who we were and what we were doing. The following morning, as he passed through the town, those same few men asked us to write our names down for the registry of the local government. They told us that someone had called them and asked them to get this information. I’m still curious about who this mysterious ‘someone’ from the local government was, but we obliged. It was all very official, as I wrote down my and the rest of the groups’ names on a blank sheet of printer paper, which came from a black folder seemingly stuffed with blank printer paper. Very official.
Now that you’ve waited long enough, the pictures, courtesy of Josh: