This weekend some friends planed to spend the weekend camping on the Djagunas river (Джагунас) and I was invited to join them. For some background info the Djagunas river runs through sedimentary limestone hills about 20km south of the city of Cherkessk, the capital city of the Karacheava Cherkesskaya Republic in south Russian. As it meanders its way through the hills, it has cut into the rock to form a canyon and a series of small water falls.
We split into groups of two as this is the best number to get a lift and dressed in brightly coloured clothes to be as visible as possible. As my hitch hiking buddy Liuda did not finish work till 6pm and everybody wanted to spend as much time as possible at the river it was decided to leave on Friday night.
After 2 lifts and 60km we were lucky enough to be picked up by a very friendly Cherkessian man, who not only picked us up but went out of his way to pick up our friends and drop us off on the other side of Cherkessk a further 90km. One more short lift to our drop off point and we were to carry on by foot, or so we thought. No sooner had we started on foot than we were stopped by the police and questioned, seamed they we worried about a group of young people wandering through the villages and hills close to midnight. They offered to give us a lift to the edge of town and set us on the right road which we gratefully accepted. After walking about an hour we decided leaving Stavropol at such a late hour was not such a good idea after all. Trying to find the correct path, in the dark with a limited map and following written directions from a person who was not in our group, was proving increasingly difficult. After several hours, many km and some jungle bashing, we finally popped out at our designated meadow at around 1:15 and found our friends already camped and in bed.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny. After a cup of tea it was decide to join Yulia and the rest of our friends at the waterfalls for Yulia’s birthday and breakfast. Then to make a combined camp in the woods. Route finding in the daylight was easy and we were able to see were we had gone wrong the night before, we had missed the first river crossing point and gone an extra 3km. After camp was made and breakfast eagerly consumed it was time to play and explore. The sun shining on the water made the canyon look very impressive and beautiful. Bathing and showering at the waterfalls was very refreshing for those hardy enough who tried it. The rest of the day continued in a mixture of photograph sessions and dreamily looking at the surroundings.
After the evening group supper cooked on the fire, out came the bongo drums and some instruments which I know not the name of. The music continued until the early hours, where as I retired early to my I-phone and ear plugs.
Sunday morning saw a cloudy sky with light rain making it very damp in the woods. The rest of the group decide to take the opportunity for a lie in while I had an early breakfast and wash. Once the rain stopped we broke camp and after a final look around it was time to head back home. The sun on the 8km walk back to the main road made us all very thirsty and the ice creams at the end were the best I had tasted for a while.
Again we spilt up for the hitch hike home and were again lucky to be picked up by an off duty police man who took us a large part of the way (at great speed I might add) and bought us each a half of local beer when he dropped us off.
The hitch back was much quicker than the way there and I arrived back at the flat in the early evening eager for a shower and a beer only to find a burst pipe meant the water was turned off, oh well, where’s the nearest waterfall?