19-Aug-2009 – Continued from 43N 41E.
This was the first visit to the confluence. It was a sunny day when we arrived at Cherkessk city in the afternoon. Cherkessk is the capital of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic where we intended to visit two confluences (44N 42E and 44N 41E). The landscape of Karachay-Cherkessia is mostly mountainous and Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain of Europe, is situated in the Southeast on the border to Kabardino-Balkar Republic.
We arrived at the bus terminal and looked for a minibus which would bring us further south to Ust'-Dzheguta town which seemed as a reasonable starting point. We weren't successful and after some minutes we were surrounded by taxi drivers. It was already late in the afternoon and we didn't get any definitive information about the next scheduled minibus, so we decided to hire a cab. We took the road A-155 and dashed south. The landscape changed from almost flat to a more hilly and mountainous area. When we passed Ust'-Dzheguta our concerns were confirmed: the contour lines on the western approach were quite close and we feared that would be tricky to make an attempt from the West. The taxi driver advised us to an approach from the Northwest and turned the cab towards a smaller village named Dzheguta. This side of the mountain was hillier and continuously rising. We stopped the taxi in about 3 km distance from the CP. It was late in the afternoon when we got off the taxi and after our visit we had to go back to Cherkessk. So we thought it would be best to leave our backpacks in the taxi and ask the driver to wait for us. We were not sure if he would really wait with our entire luggage in the trunk and so we decided that Philipp should try an attempt while Katharina would keep the driver happy. Philipp disappeared between the hills which were almost covered with meadows and pastures. Most parts of the slopes were pastured by cattle and the steeper parts covered with woodlands and forests. Between the pastures there were also fields with corn. Philipp took a dirt track leading south through and disappeared in the hilly landscape. On his way he met some Karachay farmer with his sons cutting grass with scythes. The confluence was on a soft hill and easy to reach. After two hours the driver's patience was depleted and he dropped our belongings at the roadside and left.
Only 15 minutes later Philipp turned around the corner, almost exhausted from running the last two kilometres. We started walking towards Ust'-Dzheguta when a passing car gave us a lift. We enjoyed Karachay pop music and the weak but nonetheless working air condition. They dropped us off next to a small grocery and we had a nice chat with the owner. The great Karachay hospitality saved us from walking back to Cherkessk – the owner of the grocery called a friend who gave us a ride back. We had dinner together and afterwards he cruised around with us, helping us finding a hotel which accepted foreign guests (not common in the area).
Continued at 44N 41E.