Spring Riding

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Route map of a 180 kilometer ride in the countryside around Duhok.

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Perfect day for a ride… the first clear day after nearly a week of nonstop rains…. the resulting landscape is as green as I’ve ever seen it, and spring is now in full bloom. IMG_3761

Looking across plowed and fallowed fields to the christian village of Alqosh.  The famous Raban Hormizd Monastery is barely visible in the mountainside, about 800 feet above the village.

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Scruffy little pup barked at me nonstop as I stopped to take a few passing photos. If I had a crate on back there’s a decent chance I would’ve taken him back to Duhok with me and make him my best friend. IMG_3768

I took this photo off of a hunch- more or less what I thought I was looking at. I had to do a good amount of geo-nerd research to make sure I could confirm without a doubt that the mountain in the distance is Sinjar, one of the most sacred sites of the Yazidi faith.  It was famously overrun by the Islamic State in the summer of 2014, and was ground zero for the Yazidi genocide.  It is now controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga and PKK forces, though still not far removed from the frontline near its base, 4o miles southwest of Duhok. IMG_3776

An elderly woman foraging in a field for wildflowers.

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Approaching the narrow valley hiding the small village of Lalesh, the single most sacred and frequently visited location of the Yazidi faith.  The entrance to the valley is recognizable by the constant plume of thick dark smoke rising from a gas flare at a small oil refinery near the valley’s entrance. IMG_3779

The constantly burning gas flare. Gas flares are common at refineries, used to burn off flammable gas in order to relieve excess pressure caused during the refining process.IMG_3783

Lalesh behind me, entering the Khosr River Valley.

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The Khosr River Valley in spring.

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Had I taken a direct route from the Khosr River Valley back to Duhok, than this would have been my road. A road for another ride.

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Climbing out of the Khosr River Valley and into the Bidol Valley.IMG_3789

At a narrow summit at the northern edge of the Bidol Valley. In the far distance is the still snow capped Gara Mountain. Saddam Hussein’s abandoned palace is clearly visible at the summit.IMG_3794

One of the last bends before meeting the main highway back to Duhok, just north of the small town of Zawita.

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