Art of the Mountain: To Khone-Khonischala, Sakartvelo (2018)

On the way to and back from Khone-Khonischala, a twin village at the end of the path heading up into the Tushet-Khevsusreti leg of the Greater Caucasus, this tree perched at the apex of a mountain angle hailed us.

The Caucasus is a land that speaks through clefts and domes, angles and orbs. It is a land that parlays with the sky.

Art of the Mountain: Ushguli, Sakartvelo (2018)

High in the remote Upper Svaneti region is Ushguli, one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. It was a day of huge storms, with moments of piercing sunlight that shaped through chiaroscuro the hills that, long ago, repelled invaders and protected the treasures of Colchis. The small village in the bottom left corner is one of the four comprising this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Art of the Mountain: To Khone-Khonischala, Sakartvelo (Georgia) (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Chiatura, Sakartvelo (Georgia) (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Gosh, Armenia (2018)

My travels through the Caucasian Mountains in 2018 brought me to the northeast of Armenia, a landscape of cliffs and clefts and astounding monasteries. At Gosh Monastery, behind the last chapel, I came upon this tree. Struck by lightening, the tree stood like a gravestone. Its other side had vanished; its core, hollowed out, blackened by fire. A sliver of bark, like an arm, stretched out, as if to find where its other half had gone.

Art of the Mountain: Alaverdi, Armenia (2018)

Situated in the heart of the Debed Canyon, a slicing landscape of rocks and monasteries, Alaverdi strikes an unexpected. Perhaps it's the smokestack, which, rather than an eyesore, is like the sliver of bark from the tree at Gosh: It is the arm that connects earth to sky, materiality to air, a corridor of transformation that I find hauntingly beautiful on the storm-heavy day of winter.

Art of the Mountain: Lahich Yolu, Azerbijan (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Lahich Yolu, Azerbijan (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Lahich Yolu, Azerbijan (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Noravank, Armenia (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Blue Mountains, Sakartvelo (Georgia) (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Debed Canyon, Armenia (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Zhinvali Reservoir, Sakartvelo (2018)

An iconic mountain moment of traveling through Georgia...the vision of the Zhinvali Reservoir as one decides at the crossroads: Ananuri and the Military Highway or the high mountains of Upper Khevsureti. I have paused at this point many times now, breathing it in, calmed by the stillness of the waters. There's a meditative peace to be found here, right here, before the riotous rivers and roads that will follow.

Art of the Mountain: Stepantsminda, Sakartvelo (Georgia) (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Shahbuz Pass, Armenia (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Kechut, Armenia (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Saghamo, Sakartvelo (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Ushguli, Sakartvelo (2018)

To reach the medieval cave city of Vardzia, constructed by the King (not Queen—god love the Georgians for not caring a damn about gender) Tamar, we climbed, climbed, climbed the land bringing us to the Vardzia's Erusheti Mountain.

Art of the Mountain: Datvisjvari Pass, Sakartvelo (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Karahunj, Armenia (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Gudauri, Sakartvelo (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Gudauri, Sakartvelo (2018)

Art of the Mountain: Kazbegi National Park, Sakartvelo (2018)

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