Vanadzor: I wake up to -8°C, icicles on the roof and no electricity, water or heating. Exactly how my father said I would end up.
26km to cover today but I take a taxi for the first 4km past the rusting semi-abandoned factories, so my actual walk to Dzoraget will be 22km. The driver, a friendly yet alert man who has seen a couple of wars, waits till I have shouldered my backpack and wishes me luck.
Past Pambak, stick hard-tapping the ground to warn dogs I am armed and unfriendly, I enter the (famous) Debed River Canyon. Now -3°C, cold wind, some sun. So far so good.
I start descending a valley. I can hear the river way below. Really a winter landscape, not much joy. Just a few birds sing brief winter music.
The road winds down steeply to the river. Bad for injured toes. After the failure of the bubble wrap I am now wrapping my toes in a layer of cut kitchen sponge, held in place with duct tape (inside socks inside boots). After a few hours I reach the valley floor and the river:
At Vahagnadzor, I eat figs, apricots and almonds on a tree stump beside a stream. My jacket is off so the sweat I have accumulated evaporates. I compliment a proud farmer on his pink pigs. A nearby donkey joins me in lunch:
A few more hours and I should be near the turnoff to Antaramut but can’t see it. Disheartened.
I curse all maps. In the past maps showing towns which failed to materialize have caused me to get stuck in a sandstorm, almost run out of water in a desert, and spend a night in a place where my host guaranteed sincerely: we won’t kill you [1 ]. After several near death experiences, I have concluded that some maps are just made up.
But today, no big problem as the road runs right beside the river, so eventually I will get somewhere. And the river invites: I could easily drop in for a swim:
Hours later: Quite a few tunnels here. Deep, deep dark, and no footpath, just a thick accumulation of dust and rocks on the edge of the road. Very unpleasant.
Then buildings, even though on the other side of the river:
Then Dzoraget. Finally I know where I really am, not just my latitude & longitude.
And welcoming the weary traveler: chickens and a laundry:
I arrive at the Avan Dzoraget, a remarkable hotel between 2 canyon walls of black basalt, about 200m+ high and 80m wall to wall [2 ]. My room is over the river and has a bath! The first in 2 months. So I bathe twice.
Dinner: lamb soup, then lamb stew, then Armenian coffee. A tough place to be vegetarian.
Night, with a full moon over the mountain coming straight in the window, and the roar of the fast flowing Debed River below, I sleep well.
(events 29 Nov 2012)
 It was evening in a remote place in south-east Pakistan. Riding my motorbike (BMW R90S) south, I happened on a community who offered me a bed for the night. The (I guess) headman said I should stay with them rather than another nearby community, because, quoting his reassuring words in full, “They will kill you, we won’t”.
 A few days later I was to walk up to the plateau at the top of the valley. In places it seemed a mere 50m across. With good shoes, a long enough run-up, and an up-to-date last Will and Testament, it seemed one could almost jump across.