Relaxing in Azau
The thunder rolled and the rain came down in sheets all night again, but the morning broke clear once more. Enjoying our extra day here in Azau, we had a leisurely breakfast and a slow start to the morning. Taking advantage of the good weather we walked back down the valley to the village of Cheget, taking a meandering trail through the woods alongside the river. Swollen by the warm mornings and the afternoon rains of the past week, the river was a raging torrent, brown with the glacial sediment it carries. Underneath its surface the current could be heard moving large rocks, creating faint echoes of thunder which would cause us to glance up at the clear blue skies in surprise before remembering the noise came from the water and not from above. It was a welcome change to walk through the pine forests with all of the smells and sounds that a forest brings, very different from the glacial slopes we have been traveling on above.
Upon reaching Cheget we clambered aboard the brightly colored chairlift that leaves from the edge of town and rode up to the midway station of the ski area. There we found a nice table at a cafe with views looking across the valley at Elbrus, it’s twin summits shrouded by clouds. With the sun shining on us we, just kicked back, playing a very tight game of Scrabble and relaxing after the climb. Bill emerged the victor by only the slimmest of margins. Back in Cheget we had a last meal of shashlik (kabobs) and then made our way back to Azau where we’ve spent the remainder of the afternoon unpacking our packs and repacking our bags for our trip to Moscow tomorrow.
We have an early departure from Azau in the morning in order to catch our midday flight from Mineralnye Vody. We should arrive in Moscow by late afternoon with enough time to stroll through Red Square before evening. We will check in tomorrow with our final dispatch.
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