Day 3 in our hike to Black Rock Lake in Lagodekhi
As the saying goes, “Sunshine is medicine for the soul.” We both woke up feeling quite tired, but were bright eyed and bushy tailed to see a huge blue sky out the window of the shelter. It was 5:30 am and what we thought to be the perfect opportunity to catch a time lapse of the sunshine and clouds from on top of the world. We were at 3500m above sea level; you could see the whole of Georgia. Not really, but it seemed like that. It was an extraordinary feeling to be so high, yet have such clarity of the world below. Amazing. We spent the next hour taking pictures every :30 seconds to create an epic time lapse. We, then, ate breakfast and re-packed all our wet belongings into plastic bags to make our descend back to Lagodehki. We calculated our descend should take between 5-6 hours based on our ascend travel time and distance. Going down must be quicker, right? Let the descend begin.
Eight hours later, with only a 15-minute short snack stop, we arrived at the Lagodehki Information Center. We consistently thought to ourselves, how can a descend be harder than an ascend when climbing a mountain? Well, this was the case. Not only was the path super narrow, it was filled with over grown black berry bushes and consistently steep. After 4 hours of hiking, we began to wonder – in what condition will we physically arrive. Everything was hurting from our toes constantly pressing into the front of the shoes, blisters developing on our feet from our wet soft skin, calves and quads burning, mentally tired from balancing within the narrow path for hours… the list could go on. We kept wondering when we were actually going to feel like we were getting closer to the ground. All of our surroundings felt like we were still miles in the sky. Old Beech trees towered over us, making the surroundings feel (again) redundant with little change.
Then It happened, we could finally hear the river. There it was, the red and white trail meets the Ninoskhevi Waterfall trail. We immediately started talking about the food we were going to order and the beer(s) we were going to celebrate our adventure with. It was another 2km until the Information Center. Not so motivating, but we knew we had just completed a very hard trek and for that reason we continued with one foot in front of the other toward the finish line.
When we arrived at the Information Center, Sandro greeted us with a big smile. Also, the two guards greeted us with eyes of congratulations, you did it! Earlier, while still on the mountain, we spoke about how people arrive (physically and mentally) from this trek. So, we asked Sandro. His response, “You guys look great compared to others who arrive.” We almost started laughing as we felt like we had been run over by a truck. Nonetheless, we paid Sandro 60 GEL (15 per night, per shelter, each) and were off to “chin chin” with a beer.
A few important facts about The Black Rock 3-day Trek:
- Once trekking, water is ONLY available at the first tourist shelter at the end of Day 1, at the various streams near the Black Lake on Day 2, and occasionally at a stream near the tourist shelter at the end of Day 2. Sandro informed us two days prior to our departure the 2nd tourist shelter stream had no water, but due to the rain we experienced we had a great supply of water at the end of Day 2. Plan accordingly based on your hydration needs.
- Keep your pack as light as possible. The trek is physically and mentally hard. I carried a 12kg pack; while Papa Fish carried a 20kg pack. Due to our late departure on first day, we brought a tent just in case we needed it if we didn’t make it to first tourist shelter. Unfortunately, we carried the tent without using it. A waste of weight.
- Pick your shoes well. We both had Teva’s, which we used most of the time. Papa Fish wore his Teva’s the entire hike even though he had his hiking boots. I also had a pair of Inov8 cleated mountain running shoes and these were gold.
- Pack EVERYTHING in plastic bags to keep the water out.
- Bring a good poncho if rain is in the forecast.
- Don’t underestimate this trek. It is relentless, humbling, and a definite challenge. If you are not a trekker or not fit, plan to add 2 days – breaking up the ascend and descend into two days each. The top of the world is an absolute reward and something everyone should see, just be mindful of your physical and mental capacities when planning the trek.
- Have fun and keep it positive. This was a true test of adversity and how each of our personal characters would respond. Not once did a negative thought come into my mind. It you choose to take on this challenge, enjoy the adventure one step at a time. Negatively will not get you through this challenge.
In conclusion, now 2 full day later, from the waist down we are both extremely sore. We have reflected on our experience and are thankful we did it. We look forward to our next visit to Lagodehki where we plan to grab a couple of beers, sit on the grass, and wait for trekkers to arrive from the Black Rock Lake Trail. Simply to give them a huge high five and buy them a beer. I would recommend this trek if you are genuinely up for a challenging experience with an extraordinary view from the top of the world.