"And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about." - Haruki Murakami
Most of the group didn’t know what to expect, some even made their first hiking steps. From Bakuriani to Likani and new life. The planning was made, food prepared, material gathered, surprise untold.
Thirty participants headed on uphill in Borjomi-Kharagauli NP through pine forest with the company of a small drizzle. The 15km trail was a proper challenge for the most, first realizations of how physically unequal we are started to develop and situation tensed. Group motivation was going up and down, the weather was also changing quickly and the fear of not reaching the top till darkness was raising. But at the end the beautiful scenery and enough breaks were what led us forward to our destination, Lomismta Shelter.
No one expected it to be easy, but no one ever told it would be this hard. It was a real storming moment in the group and group dynamics.
Exhausted, hungry, a bit disorganized but happy and fulfilled. The group set up a camp, prepared a warm dinner, got together and started reminiscing while watching the cozy, red and orange flame licks under a starry night blanket.
We had a day of reflecting on our mistakes or successful moves and now the following day started with a bit more ease than the previous days. We all knew that we would soon be at our goal, and that when we packed down the camp, it would be the last time before putting it up in a less temporary space. I guess the consciousness of this created the atmosphere of us being one group. Doing this together. We got the choice of going back the same way we came two days before, or continue down the very steep parts that was our original plan. Each one of us agreed, in a diplomatic voting, and the group feeling just grew from here. It was the first time we stood together, and our motto Life is HIKE really became a thing.
With the best tune of this world on repeat in our heads and out loud, humming to our self-made song, we started the last day of hiking. We walked together, and luckily enough it did not rain. Seeing beautiful views of the national park through the trees, walking on a small mountain ridge and down parts so steep it almost felt vertical. We experienced a lot of nature this day, and it was beautiful. Also taking a lunch break down in the valley, and just enjoying one another’s company, knowing that very soon we would be there. We had a great time.
Reaching the soon-to-be camp and finally being there was awesome. Everyone helped to build up the camp for one last time, some got wood and started cooking, others fixed the tents and got water. The team-spirit was just growing. I guess most of us were quite tired, but we just got it over with together. It felt nice that we were not moving the camp the next day, that we could settle a bit more than the previous days.
We got some time to relax this day, to reflect about the project so far and see both backwards and forwards. Having people everywhere around you can be tiring, but this time it felt good to always have someone. We had only known each other for a few days, but in our little bubble, the atmosphere was very safe and open.
In the evening, we gathered around the fire and got an optional task; the solo night. I was personally quite afraid of this on beforehand, because I didn't really know what it meant, and I was afraid that we were going to sleep alone in the forest for a whole night. When we got to it, it was only for an hour. A bit frightening still, but laying relatively close to one another and having time to focus on the question “Where am I, and what to I want to leave behind me and continue the life without?”, had a surprisingly calming effect. Laying there in silence and darkness, in a national park in Georgia. It was a strange and relieving feeling, and the hour went by more quickly than I would ever imagine. It was an eye-opener and a very nice end of the day.