In September of 2011, we returned to the Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia for the second time.  For most of the trip, we spent our time relaxing by the beaches of the Black Sea.  But we also wanted to do a hike.  Thus, I began doing extensive research on Sochi National Park and Krasnaya Polyana, as I had heard that there were over 40 trails in the area which passed through the rivers, forests, and mountains.  I quickly found out that there is virtually no information available online in English, which presented a huge problem.  Eventually, I zeroed in on an area of Sochi National Park known as Wet Canyon and Dry Canyon.  These were two canyons in close proximity to one another that could be looped as a dayhike.  The hardest part would be getting there and finding our way around once we did.  I did find out that there were local guides and Jeep excursion services which lead trips to these canyons.  However, they were set up for the casual tourists to just drop by and look at the main highlights of each canyon for a very short time, take a few pictures, and move on.  There were no actual hiking options available through these services.  Fortunately, we found out that we had a few friends who lived in the Sochi and Adler area, so we took a bus and train down south from where we were staying (an 8+ hour endeavor) and met up with them.  The next day, three of us hiked into the Psakhe River's Wet Canyon for several miles and then used a little known bypass to climb up into Dry Canyon and see the short slot narrows there.  As Sochi had just received a massive rainstorm the day before, Wet Canyon was very wet and slippery and I took three of the nastiest falls I've ever had.  Wet Canyon is a long, winding canyon with walls comprised of limestone strata.  Dry Canyon is more of a short side canyon up a nearby hillside which was created by an earthquake fault.  Both are well worth seeing if you ever find yourself in the Sochi area, perhaps for the 2014 Winter Olympics or on a cruise ship for the day.  Cautions to keep in mind are the slippery conditions and also the presence of poisonous snakes (we came across two snakes, one poisonous).  But if you can find these canyons, you will have seen a beautiful area that few Westerners have ever seen.
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Our friends dropped us off near the village of Galitsino (which is on the road connecting Adler to Krasnaya Polyana) and we began hiking down this gravel road towards the Psakhe River:
As we reached the Psakhe River, a change of footwear was in order.  We switched into sandals, probably the reason I had so many falls:
Wet Canyon quickly takes shape in the form of a narrow gorge with limestone strata walls:
Zooming in a little bit at the beginning of the gorge.  The beginning is actually the most photographed and famous spot of Wet Canyon:
The gorge pushes the water downstream dramatically between the canyon walls.  The design and ridges on the rocks that you see here would be a defining characteristic of Wet Canyon:
A little further downstream and the river has calmed down a  little bit, making for a peaceful and serene setting:
Steve and Daria at this spot in the canyon in September of 2011:
Positively beautiful scenery through here:
The Psakhe River had a grey color to it.  We were told this was from the huge rainstorms in recent days.  Sometimes it is a pretty blue color:
Water flowing swiftly over some rocks, creating some rapids:
Notice how the river cuts straight through a section of forest in Sochi National Park:
A pretty reflection on the water created by the sunlight ahead:
The canyon walls would frequently rise up like barriers, forcing the water to stay in a narrow gorge:
A fallen tree sitting in the middle of the river, redirecting the water:
A steep hillside to the left in a rainforest like atmosphere:
You can tell here by the marks left on the rocks that the river level rises and drops frequently:
There were three very beautiful parts of Wet Canyon-- the beginning, the middle, and the end.  Here we have reached the middle cascades:
A pretty waterfall pours over a rock shelf in the middle canyon:
Daria getting her picture by this small wide waterfall:
Most of the time we could stay out of the river while hiking and taking pictures like this.  But this involved slippery bypasses with sometimes bad footing:
We would hop from one side of the river to the other across these rock benches:
A neat looking but slippery area where water has polished the rock:
Daria and our guide and friend Vasia leading us along the side of the river:
Another section that cascades down, creating a memorable spot in the canyon:
There were spots where the water got really deep.  Swimming can become necessary if there has been a lot of rain:
Looking back up at the cascades section that we just passed:
A mossy log which has fallen across the milky looking water:
The gorge walls of the canyon frequently stayed very close together, as seen in the next two pictures:
Looking back at a pretty waterfall which has been partially created by log jams:
Daria surveying the scene as we work our way through this narrow section, shown in the next three pictures:
Nice view of the canyon walls.  As you can see they are composed of a white mineral and are quite tall:
This is a small side canyon we came across.  The view looking down a wet chute from the side canyon:
Continuing down the main canyon as we followed the river some more:
The water got deeper and the banks higher at this spot:
There was some deep water and falls that we passed.  In order to avoid these, locals have built this homemade ladder made of thick logs:
Part of what we bypassed, a deep channel that requires swimming:
Another view of the homemade ladder which locals installed:
The river approaching a high canyon wall on the left:
This is the end section of Wet Canyon, where a stunning waterfall is the grand finale:
Different angle looking down the final waterfall:
We worked our way around to the right, following a trail, and got this picture of the large waterfall:
Next we headed up this rockslide bypass which led to Dry Canyon:
The trail to Dry Canyon went through the forest for about 20-30 minutes.  It was a steep climb with the way marked by green stripes:
Soon we approached one side of a rock wall, telling us that we were getting closer to the good stuff:
And then we reached Dry Canyon, a short slot canyon similar to ones we have hiked in California and Utah:
Daria and Steve at the beginning of Dry Canyon:
Looking up out of the towering narrows at the sky and jungle above:
A very pretty contrast in sides of the canyon wall between the white and grey colors:
Further down Dry Canyon it stays narrow.  This canyon was actually created by an earthquake fault, according to available information:
Look at the long vines coming down the canyon wall on the right side:
Sunlight filtering into the canyon creating vibrant colors:
Steve on his way back out of Dry Canyon.  This area was quite short and we were blocked halfway through the canyon by a military guard who said the rest of the canyon was off limits:
Looking through the narrows at our other two hikers:
One final look at the amazing slot narrows of Dry Canyon:
Once we exited the canyon without water, we looped back via this field towards the start of our hike:
On our way back towards the village, we took this picture looking towards Krasnaya Polyana.  If you're looking for bears, you need to get further into Sochi National Park in that area: