October 20, 2020
This river was made for rafting, and that’s just what we did.
After your aperitif, are you ready for your main dish of slow-cooked Katun, with a side dish of oh-my-gorgeous Altai scenery? Ok, then we’ll begin…
As I’ve written in this Altai-2020 series already, getting to the top of the Katun sure ain’t easy, and near the top there aren’t that many river obstacles getting in your way (too easy!); however, the early stretches are perhaps the most magnificently meditative! The odd paddle, the occasional spot of steering, a few splashes here and there, but apart from that – magical Altai vistas and Ommmmmmmmm ).
The northern slopes of the mountains look as if they’ve had fir trees planted all over them, which have then been carefully trimmed and blow-dried ).
…Whereas the southern slopes are dry (from the sun); therefore – neatly close shaven: just the odd patch of stubble ). Completing this metaphorical hairstyling mini-series – all the ridges along the tops of the mountains have Mohicans a la B.A. Baracus!
Occasionally along the banks of the river we notice bee farms. However, we don’t stop for a taste/purchase – you need to let them know in advance you’re coming: the ‘warehouses’ of honey may be empty…
Onward we gently drift. More relaxed reflection upon the scenery, life, and how lucky we are that there’s no one else around to annoy us. The only slight annoyance – from my fellow expeditioners! Incessant yapping! I know I can get chatty like the best of ’em, but on the calm waters of the Katun? Some things are sacred ).
Grrr! I only have to mention a lack of other folks… and they appear! In noisy motor boats no less! Waving at us!! And a lot more of them than last time! Still, to be honest there weren’t that many really. Isn’t that half of the whole meditation thing? Letting things be? )
Hmmm – archeological digression!…
U see the (very faint) horizontal line across that mountain side? Ok, I’ll mark it out:
Geologists say that toward the end of the last ice age, melting glaciers here formed a huge lake – and that line there marks its level:
Bridge! Our first while rafting down the Katun. There had been one before this one up near the border with Kazakhstan, but when the USSR broke up it was destroyed – apparently to make the border guards’ work easier ).
Next up – another first: a village! Handy too, as my laptop’s battery was flat (I only used it for backups, remember? No work in Altai!). And the friendly and kind folks in the village store allowed me to plug in for a bit. Lifesavers! Thank you very much!
The village is called Ust-Koksa, after the river that runs through it – the Koksa (which flows into the Katun), in which we had a bathe ) ->
Next up – 40km of the Katun, which is becoming wider and with more rapids. Still no bumpy rafting, just extremely pleasant and soothing…
Who’d think this was the mountain river called the Katun?!
Team pic! ->
‘What’s with the clouds over there? Is the weather taking a turn for the worst?’ I ask.
‘No – that’s the Multi Valley; the weather’s always like that there,’ came the reply.
Onward we float…
Come evening – up go the tents, as per.
And that was that. Another day in paradise Altai – over. Here’s looking forward to the next!…
To be continued!…
All the pics from Altai-2020 are here.