Monday, May 2, 2022

10 Years Ago: The Three Tests in Borjomi, Caucasus Georgia

Original May 2012 post here about a trip to Borjomi in Caucasus Georgia. I laughed out loud when I re-read our day's adventure. 

I still use that backpack. It is my portable office when traveling. It houses my laptop, my chargers, cords, batteries, file folders, etc.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Borjomi, Part 3: The Three Tests

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Every good fairy tale has three tests that heroes and heroines must pass. Indiana Jones had to solve three clues in The Last Crusade. Thus it was in our walk to the spring pool in Borjomi's Mineral Spring Park.

Once we got off the pavement and turned a bend, Sandy and I found ourselves in an idyllic wood. We soon arrived at a bridge over the River Mtkvari. It was so pretty, I called Kate and suggested that she come just this far to see how gorgeous it was.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

This was my kind of place: Trees, a river, spring flowers, mossy bark, cool woodland breeze, birdsong, piney scents. There was no one else around.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.
Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Presently we came upon a rivulet that fed into the Mtkvari. Shallow but somewhat wide, we carefully stepped on the rocks to cross over. A bit of a delicate operation to keep from getting our shoes wet, nothing onerous. I expressed my relief to Sandy that we'd successfully traversed the spot of trouble before getting to the spring pool. Sandy doubted this was the trouble spot as it seemed a little too easy.

We passed a grave.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

We went up a steepish hill. We went down the hill.

And then Sandy and I saw it. The real challenge. No rivulet this. It was an adolescent stream, bristling with watery bravado, fast. Big, slippery rocks. Falling into this would mean an injury or being pulled into the roiling Mtkvari. There was no gingerly stepping across stones here to avoid getting one's shoes wet.

How to pass? Ah. There were two stripped, straight limbs laid parallel to each other across the stream. Each was about five inches wide. The stream was too wide to enable the holding of one end of something on one bank while crossing to the other bank. The stream moved too fast and furious to stick a large branch into the wale for anchoring while crossing. No. One had to, for a space, walk what seemed like a tightrope.

Borjomi, Georgia. Second water crossing. Photo credit: Sandy.

And we did it, Sandy more nimbly than I, and with her attempting to give me a hand at my turn, in the form of a decrepit, dried branchlet that crumbled into the rapids below. It was the thought that counted. 

Much relieved that we'd passed the trouble spot, we headed confidently toward the spring pool. Along the way today, we'd touched base telephonically several times with a TLG colleague who'd walked partway on this trail just a couple of weeks ago. We called her again after achieving our little feat, to discover that she and her husband had turned back at the first rivulet (not because of its difficulty, but because they hadn't received good direction and thought perhaps the spring pool was simply too far ahead).

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

So Sandy and I pressed on through the beautiful wood.

We heard people's voices up ahead. As we came closer, we saw a woman standing on the bank of the river. And we looked where she looked.


This is what we saw.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

The woman's companion was walking ever so carefully across a log across the River Mtkvari. He held on to a steel cable to maintain balance.

Then the woman went across.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Sandy and I could see what had to be the spring pool over on the other side, up the path a bit. Should we go across? Could we? Were we stupid? Or adventurous?

We were so close to the spring pool. We had passed the previous two tests. We must finish the challenge.

But first, let's take a moment to reflect on the Georgian belief of what deserves care and what doesn't. As you can see from the above, Georgians are cavalier about park visitors taking on this treacherous path to a spring pool. No signs of caution. And, you can't see this from the photo, but that steel cable is frayed smack in the middle of the log "bridge," and I pity the person who happens to be going across when it separates, notwithstanding the single bale wire holding it somewhat in place. 

Here is what we saw in the hotel wastebasket: 

Borjomi, Georgia. Hotel Victoria wastebasket warning.

Go figure. Though now that I think about it, maybe Georgians do need to have such stickers on trash containers.

BTW, this is a thought-provoking article (Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes) on how safety features in parks may actually contribute to injuries and death. I've linked to page 3 of the article, which goes straight to this point, but the entire article is excellent information about how our mental models affect our safety in the wilderness.     

But anyway, Sandy and I each went across the log, Sandy venturing first. Oooh, I will admit, it was a little scary! It made a tremendous difference having seen two people cross it before us.

Here are different perspectives:

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Sandy and I felt like we'd achieved a cool thing by walking across that log.

So we walked confidently to the spring pool, not worrying that we'd have to re-cross the log on the return trip, only to discover one more hurdle before reaching the pool:  

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Really, all we could do was laugh before crossing over.

Views of the spring pool:

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

The spring pool was rather anti-climactic after we passed our three tests, but we still dipped our feet into the lukewarm water.

The walk back was uneventful, though not without challenge of re-crossing our waters.

I dropped my backpack on the path before trotting into the brush for a wilderpee.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

We collected Kate at the park entrance and began our return to town center.

But just outside the park, we noted -- and I don't use this word lightly -- an amazing house in the process of renovation. It might be worth a trip back to Borjomi just to see the finished product. We had no idea of its provenance, but it was dazzling.

Blue-trimmed exterior and design reminiscent of America's "Painted Ladies."

San Francisco Painted Ladies on Alamo Park. California.

But there was a mirrored tile balcony that had us mesmerized.  

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

Borjomi, Georgia. Mineral Spring Park.

It was fine.

By the time we got back to town center, it was time for dinner, so we went to the restaurant adjacent to the train depot. We arrived in the nick of time, as all tables except one was filled. Most customers were women of all ages, drinking merrily and then later, dancing. Traditional Georgian dancing, and modern. Although the food was nothing special, Sandy, Kate, and I got into the fun of the happy dancing.

A pleasurable day.

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