Updated: Dec 12, 2021
Idea was great...
Start at the small village Kvemo Mleta near the church, run up about 4-5 km (500 m), reach Lomisa orthodox monastery (apx. 2200 alt.) where 5 monks live year round. Drink a tea with them (if you wish :))
After the run by the impressive and narrow hilly ridge about 3-4 km, run down passing castle ruins, Svan's towers, abandoned Ossetian village and waterfall and finally get back to the car.
However my dog made some improvements and refused to move in the middle of the rout further. Maybe he was scared or (which is more likely) got tired, but he sat down on a boulder and began to howl, as only Husky dog can.
Sadly but not a tragedy. Will try next time (hope in two weeks) avoiding some mistakes made on the way and definitely leave Ice at home.
Anyway rout is wonderful. Accent to the monastery is quit steep, but relatively short. It will take 40 min approximately or less. On the way you may see people (especially on week-ends) and even monks walking up to the monastery for the Saturday or Sunday services.
Some of them walk barefoot and sometimes even carry something to leave up the as a symbol of purging of their sins.They are not necessary pilgrims. But definitely religious people.
As soon as you reach the monastery, you may run further by the ridge to the right. There will be short accent and after ridge will go up and down, up and down. We stuck and returned back from Lomisa peak, 10 minutes from monastery pit-stop. Peak - triangle steep summit with stony surface. I didn't want to climb up and run through the summit (a bit scary and windy for solo adventure) so instead decided to walk at the foot of Lomisa summit. There was a sort of path trough small bush and rocky slope, jumping from one to another big and small boulders that crumbled from the mountain. The traverse is technical. You better be with a friend. Definitely. It's always better to run with someone especially on the remote routs.
So we tried to pass this summit but Ice got stuck. Obviously, he got tired of jumping between, by and on boulders. The boulders even big one were "alive", and Ice is just a dog not an alpine climber.
So we got back to the Lomisa monastery and in half an hour was near the car. Running down was nice and quick.
About the history of the monastery. Lomisa features in many local legends and folktales. It is said that the church was built here to commemorate the deliverance of 7,000 Georgians from the Chorasmian
captivity through the miraculous intervention of the icon of Saint George which was mounted on an ox called Loma ("a lion"). Another legend has it that a captain of a royal detachment incurred the wrath of the icon when he chopped the church door for firewood: the soldiers were blinded and their eyesight would not return until the captain promised to donate an iron door to the church. An ironclad oakwood door—with the 16th–17th-century Georgian inscriptions—is still kept inside the church. The church also features an old massive iron chain which believers put around the neck and walk round the shrine three times counterclockwise to make a promise or a wish.
The Lomisa church hosts an annual festival, known as Lomisoba (literally, "of/related to Lomisa"), probably a remnant of an ancient pre-Christian cult superimposed by the veneration of St. George. Every year, on the Wednesday after Pentecost, thousands of people from various regions of Georgia, especially Mtiuleti, Khevi, and Khevsureti, make a pilgrimage up to the Lomisa church.
Itinerary of the 1st attempt rout.
By car 15-20 min. down from Gudauri to Kvemo Mleta village. Park near small church. Then follow the sign Lomisa through the village. Don't worry about dogs. They look like Fluffy - three-headed dog from Harry Potter sometimes, but really lovely and friendly. In most cases they want someone pet them.
Distance 10 km.
Surface: stones, grass, clay, icy in the morning
Elevation: 1490 (parking) - 2 330
Climb: 950 m.
Difficulty: medium. Steep ascend, ridge is narrow but safe. Descending is partly technical but also easy. During summer hot - sun exposed.