BY ANTHONY AVAKIAN
With our first long and treacherous week of jampar in the books, we embarked on our first weekend and our first excursion. Thanks to our brothers and sisters in the AYF in Stepanakert, we planned a full day at Zontikner and Jdrduz to adventure in the mountains that our soldiers fought to keep. We planned to set up camp alongside the river at Zontik, swim, barbecue, and eventually rise up to the flat grounds at Jdrduz to watch the sun rise at 5 am.
With everything going as planned, we took off from our apartment heading towards Shushi. We went off-road to eventually reach a hiking trail only deghatsis would know about. Hiking towards our camping ground, we sang a wide range of heghapokhagan songs. We were in awe of our surrounding environment: the waterfalls, the picturesque scenery, the greenery.
Finally reaching our destination, we dropped all of our belongings and ran straight to the Zontik. “Zontik” directly translates to umbrella from Russian, so finally seeing it explained the reason for the name. Water flows over a cave just like an umbrella creating a natural waterpark-like ambiance. We walked through the freezing water to enter the cave filled with cool and refreshing air. After a long photo-shoot, we finally advanced higher along the mountain to follow the stream and reach the deeper pool to swim in. The experience was so surreal that I couldn’t process the fact that we were in Artsakh. It seemed as if we were in a completely different world.
Drying off, we headed back to our campground to start up a fire and begin our long awaited barbecue. Our deghatsi ungers had the fire going and the barbecue skewered and ready to go. We enjoyed a very memorable meal while the sun began to set.
It was time to finally head up to Jdrduz and setup our sleeping bags around the camp fire for the night. We marched back up the mountain and found the location we wanted to stay for the night. Our brothers from Artsakh set up the fire to keep warm in the breezy and brisk weather. We laid out our sleeping bags and napped shortly to wake up a couple hours later to see the sun rise over the mountainous skyline of Artsakh.
Opening my eyes from the nap, the sky was “cotton candy” pink and blue. It was obvious the sun would shortly reveal itself from behind the mountain. It seemed unreal seeing the sun just slowly peak over the top of the mountain. The view from Jdrduz has always been my favorite view in Armenia and Artsakh, but never before did I appreciate its beauty until I witnessed the sunrise there.
Being there with my family for our 6 week journey just made the experience even better. The unique beauty of Zontik and Jdrduz made the day feel like a dream and an experience I will never forget. These 24 hours will forever be engraved in my memory.