Our trail through Turkey continued high into the mountains, and it was peculiar how much the high planes at around 2000 m reminded me of Mongolia. The riding was fantastic, but after descending back to sea level, we were anxious to get to the Caucasus and decided to push through the rest of Turkey in one long push.
The border crossing to Georgia was a bit longer than expected, but we got through eventually. Our first order of business was to take a break and service the bikes at the local KTM / Husky in Tbilisi.
After the break we and our bikes were ready to head up into the mountains, and we immediately headed into Armenia and crossed the border with ease.
Our first trail in Armenia immediately threw us right into it. Steep climbs, navigating from mountain top to mountain top without a trail of any kind and endless sunshine.
Our route later turned into heavily rutted logging tracks churned out by 6×6 trucks with wet sections under forested areas. We were pretty muddy when we camped for the night, high up in the mountains.
The next morning we were up early and eager to get back on the trail, which just got better and better as we had escaped the muddy forest tracks and were high in the mountains. However, we were faced with a new challenge as route finding had become a bit of an issue. We were having a hard time finding a way down from the mountains. In the end our route did a long loop right back to where we started the previous day. It had been an excellent track. We continued to the southern coast of Lake Sevan and staid at a roadside hotel for the night.
Our track pushed immediately up into the mountains, over beautiful grassy hills. The riding became technical and difficult higher up as we had to cross a small stream, strewn with boulders and completely overgrown. Higher up the terrain became very rocky and I dropped my bike with its tyres pointing up. Light as it was, at 130 kg fully fuelled and with luggage, I was unable to get it on its toes without Juho’s help. We were at 2500 m and the exertion of trying to lift the bike left me breathing heavily.
The trail eased off eventually as we climbed to a pass at around 2900 m, after which we descended into a beautiful empty valley. We were definitely riding into less travelled terrain as even the shepherds’ makeshift summer lodgings had disappeared. The route became rockier with patches of snow as we climbed up to a pass at 3000 m. We took a break on the ridge and I ate the last food I had. We had been on trail around three or four hours.
The descent was rocky but easy and we crossed several small streams before being faced with a proper river. It was not too deep but the current was strong and the bottom consisted if slippery smooth boulders, so we power walked the bikes over instead of trying to ride them.
The route climbed consistently, becoming increasingly rocky and tricky, and disappearing entirely as it spat us on an incredible grassy plain at 3300 m. The high mountain plain was desolate and magical, and I dare say perhaps the most incredible place I had ever ridden. Our only concern was finding a way down, back to civilisation.
From the edge of the southern face we could see some shepherds’ summer dwellings and cattle down the slope. If we found a way to get to them, there should be a way out.
All went well and we eventually descended into the town of Jermuk and had a huge lunch. The trail had been around 100 km and took us around seven hours to ride. It was definitely one of the best, if not the best, trail I’d ridden thus far. Our journey continues south.