17-Aug-2005 -- This was the first attempt at a CP visit in Armenia. I planned the route using satellite Pics and the excellent USSR military topographic maps the university of Berkeley provides. Entering the mountains at Udzadzor, I would have to follow a small river for 10 kilometers and then another one up a side valley for another 5 kilometers or so.
I took the bus to Vedi. Once there I asked someone driving to Udzadzor to take me along. A few hundred meters before Udzadzor is the crossing where the street into the mountains branches off. From this point the GPS showed still more than 19 kilometers distance to the CP. I walked for almost 8 kilometers down the road and into the southeastern valley. At this time cars and busses passed every 15 minutes, but no one stopped to pick me up, which is very unusual in Armenia.
The farmers working in the area provided me with fresh harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, and green pepper. One family living at the entrance insisted on drinking some coffee with me. The Armenian hospitality can be overwhelming sometimes.
The CP lies in the range of the Chosrov Nature Reserve. Technically this park is at the moment closed to the public, although some travel agencies in Yerevan organize tours into the park and claim to have the necessary permission to do this. More over the park is guarded; there are posts at every major road leading into the area. Having said that, i have to admit, that I entered the park without any official permit and without being stopped by the guards. In fact, some areas of the park seem to be popular picnic sites.
I walked the (terrible) road up the valley until the GPS showed 10 kilometers distance to the CP. From there some people on their way home gave me a ride in their truck. Home, as it later turned out, was a tiny village consisting of a few dozen houses, just a couple of hundred meters beneath the highest peak in the area at an elevation well above 2300m. The vehicle they were using was almost 40 years old and ran on methane or propane gas rather than benzine. I was amazed at what this machine was capable of.
We made a short stop at a gate next to a little farmhouse at the beginning of the side valley in which the confluence lies. The time it took to open the gate was used to cool the engine and have a little chat. I was literally forced to eat soup, cheese, and bread. I had told that i was a "alpinist", and they had determined that i was to skinny to make a serious attempt at one of the mountains here. The least thing they could do was to help me to a decent meal to give me a little strength.
The truck took a route up the northwestern side of the valley (very steep slopes) and along the ridge on a barely visible dirt track after that. Two kilometers from the confluence i departed and continued by foot. To get to the confluence I had to descent a few hundred meters down the mountainside, follow the small river in the valley for a few hundred meters and climb again the opposite flank up to 1900m again. I needed more than 90 minutes for the last two kilometers and was extremely exhausted when I arrived at the CP.
It turned out that the CP lies in a thicket consisting of dried shrubs, thistles and wild blackberries. I quickly abandoned the idea of toiling through this mess, and took the shots in approximately 20m distance.
By this time had developed a serious sunburn on my arms and face, had almost no water left (the small rivers in the area were visibly polluted), I had needed more time than calculated (it found the CP in the late afternoon), and was at least in 6 kilometers from the next leaving soul. Because of these disturbing circumstances, my celebration for finding the CP was overshadowed with beginning despair.
On my way back I followed the river back to the main valley, and found a picnic party who insisted on tasting their exquisite Armenian Shashlik, and agreed to bring me back to Artashat, where my little journey had started. But against their repeated assurances, they showed no signs of leaving for the next hours and began even hinting that they would stay in the park over night. I left them and walked another five kilometers towards Udzadzor. After nightfall I arrived at the gate to the park, where the guard arranged that a bus driving through took me back.