Sunday, June 12, 2011

Storming the castle

I can't imagine how difficult it was to storm a castle back in the medieval days. I wasn't even wearing chain mail or carrying a broad sword or mace, and the trek up to "okros tsikhe" (Gold Castle) was tough work. In trail-running shoes and lightweight tech-gear, the two-hour climb gave me pause to wonder at the difficulty of life when this castle was inhabited back in the 13th century. (Although I don't think much of the difficulty has eased up for the villagers who still live on the mountain.)

Castle ruins on the hilltop

The day after James' epic birthday suphra did not dawn with the best of weather. We all wanted to hike to the castle up the mountain above where James lives. But as we sat on the front porch watching the storm clouds roil over the mountains across the valley, dropping rain on their way to us, then on us, we thought that maybe we should wait for the thunderstorm to pass and see what the weather looked like on the other side of it. The other side of it was still gray, but the rain had stopped, so we decided to take the window of opportunity while it lasted.

We put on whatever water-proof gear we had or whatever we didn't mind getting wet in, and headed up the muddy road through Zanavi Village. At the top of the village, we left the road and started hiking up the sloping hills following the lines of trails that the cows and sheep had worn into the grassy expanse over centuries of grazing on that land. We passed several herds of cows, munching on the new spring grass contentedly despite the drizzle that started to fill the air. The bells that hung around their necks sounded across the valley in a chorus of tinks and tongs.

Maria, Katherine, James, and Mattias on the final push up the hill

The castle ruins rose into the gray clouds, half disappearing from view, as if history were trying to reclaim it, out of the present, back into the past. The dismal weather lent an air of mystery to the mass of rocks piled on top of the bedrock jutting out of the verdant pinnacle.

The final climb up to the entrance of the castle was slick and rocky -- that was what sparked the conversation about storming the castle. We tried to imagine what it would have been like to actually attack that very castle, trying to steal the gold that was kept there (hence, the name). We decided that it would have been nearly impossible -- probably why Queen Tamari had that castle built there!

From "inside" the castle, overlooking the valley
We climbed around and explored the interior of the castle that is now very much outdoors until the next think bank of storm clouds overtook us, engulfing the castle in their chilly dampness. Cold and wet, we decided to head back down the mountain for shelter, dry clothes, and hot tea.

So much for storming the castle.

1 comment:

  1. 13th century or present day....what a beautiful view!!!