Tag Archives: russia
Herewith, a continuation of my Altai-2020 tales!…
After spending the night in the tiny hamlet of Arkyt, we were up early next morning, loaded most of our stuff onto uncomplaining horses, put bare essentials (mostly photo-video kit, + warm and waterproof clothing) into backpacks for our own backs, and off we set – for five (!) days of trekking in the Altai wilderness up to Akkem Lake. As the crow flies, it’s a mere 35 kilometers; however, given the specifics of the lie of the land here, the actual distance you cover is around 85km! But it feels even longer than that – say, 100km: there are that many bends and twists and ups and downs, plus much of the way it’s quite uneven and stony. Then there are the flooded sections of the path due to the summer’s rain-overdose; we had to get round these up on steep slopes next to the path covered in bushes. The most unusual bit was where deep, soft moss covered steep sections of the path: it was almost like walking upon deep snow! This was fine when descending, but ascending – oh my grueling-stamina-test!
But for the full length of those 85km – the views all around were absolutely stunning!
You might just be able to make out the cabins down in Arkyt in the middle of this pic ->
On today’s agenda on our ‘In for a Ruble, in for a Penny – Altai-2020‘ expedition: further edging ever closer to the main course – white-water rafting. The final stretch of the drive, and then finally switching from 4×4 to 2×2 (trekking-booted feet). Then we got onto two ‘loaves of bread‘ to raft down the Argut.
These pics, in case you’re wondering, are of the ‘road’, not a path! Accordingly, since it’s so hairy and rubbly, at times we were let out to proceed on foot for a bit: the vehicles would have an easier – safer – time navigating it then…
The R256 Highway, aka – the Chuya Highway, aka – the Chuysky Trakt, really, truly, totally, is… an amazingly modern highway! So much so that it’s as if this road… is giving… the bird (pardon my Belgian) to any and all entrenched stereotypes held by folks living in Moscow and other ‘progressive’ Russian cities about the ‘provincial backwaters’ of Russia being backward, dirty, unkempt, and on the verge of collapse. Along the full length of the highway (apart from the stretches being repaired/resurfaced – but we’ll allow that:), there is: smooth asphalt; fresh, clean and clear signposting and road markings; sturdy modern crash barriers; and assorted other attributes of ‘how a road should ideally be constructed’. Oh my great job!
It goes without saying it was pure pleasure driving along the Trakt. There were a few ‘events’ along the way, but no major hiccups or incidents. And not even a driving ticket – not a single one (and we really were pushing our luck at times (well, it did feel like an Autobahn:)!
Btw – the above and also quite a few of the following pics were taken by our photo-video-drone maestro Andrey Nartish, of Dyshes Production.
The main course of our Altai-2020 expedition was of course the rafting down the river Katun. However, the various hors d’oeuvres before it were rather special too. The rafting main dish came after a good long steady mosey from the northeast to near where the river starts out up in the mountains. The route: along the R256 highway up to the village Kosh Agach, and from there it wasn’t much further as we were already high up in the mountains.
Approaching the riverhead, we took one look at the super-high level of the water of the river Chuya and realized a spot of rafting upon its rapids was out of the question. Boo! We’d be missing the Behemoth Rapid, the Horizon Rapid, and the Turbinny Rapid (woah: three remote sets of rapids – each with their own English Wikipedia page:). There’d simply been too much rainfall this year – much more than usual.
But what we did instead made up for these omissions: we drove over to the multicolored Kizil-Chin mountains – aka ‘Martian mountains’ due to their unusual yellow-orange coloring.
In this post there’ll be a lot more photos than there are words. First up – photos of the route to Chulyshman ->
We got there in a small convoy of sturdy vehicles, supplied by the Altai-Guide tourist agency (which we helped with an expedition to Chukotka a while back; the stickers on the vehicles are those left over from then).
Lake Teletskoye fills you with rapturous joy. Its vastness, its fiord-like vistas, and of course Altai’s mysterious… vibes. Bit more info re these mysterious vibes, btw: They’re not only magically calming-soothing and encourage you to go full-on meditative “we’re-all-one, there’s-only-now”; for some reason they also… keep you from sleeping! I reckon it must be that the part of the brain that’s responsible for all the deep and philosophically pensive activity simply doesn’t permit the rest of brain any room to maneuver: it kinda just hogs all the resources, much like a very old computer antivirus ).
The lake was calm and even-surfaced when we were there, with occasional odd ripples catching the sun (to fairly blind you:). The views all around – aaaaah (if you’re eyesight’s not shot:).
I think I’ve mentioned in passing recently – perhaps more than once – that I took my annual summer vacation this year in Altai. But it’s mid-September already – and still no Altai series of pics and tales? Eh? But don’t worry, it’s on its way – coming up soon. The thing is, there are soooo many photos this year, and so much video too that needs professional digital editing. Still, I am today able to at least give you my traditional taster, aka, starter course, aka aperitif, as a warm-up…
First, I can tell you – no, repeat to you, since I’ve been to Altai before, and even wrote a travelogue-book about the experience – that Altai is one of the most magically enrapturing places in the planet, IMHO. It’s crammed with: marvelous mountainous beauty, rivers with water of various bright colors, glacial lakes, and assorted other extraordinarily beautiful natural landscapes. But what’s perhaps most extraordinary of all is the fact that the place has a mysterious, powerful… energy, which you almost start to feel physically after several days there. I don’t know what it is; it must be some kind of magic force that’s emitted out of the Altai earth. What I do know is that it affects how you feel: better overall; experiences and sensations are brighter, richer, more intense; and your mood is always fairly cloud-nine! And the wildlife there is similarly other-worldly: ants are huge – the size of cockroaches; mushrooms grow to the size of watermelons; while the region’s mosquitos… – you might expect them to be similarly crazy and mutant-ninja, but no – they’re not interested in humans, leaving them practically completely alone! EH?!
So yeah: Altai: oh my, oh my. Natural, wild beauty redefined!
A few days ago, a momentous, landmark event took place. It was in a seaside city – a ‘regular’ one, where it gets dark of a night (unlike others I can think of:) ->
The momentous event was – drum roll, cymbal…….. our first post-quarantine conference! In sunny ~Sochi!
And here’s my first post-quarantine event badge! ->
The other day – finally! – I was back on the road after a six-month hiatus. It wasn’t my usual globetrotting routine, but it was a trip away – on a plane. Up to Murmansk!
It was just a short trip (over a long weekend), whose main purpose was a spot of fishing in the Barents Sea. Actually (and just as I like it), there was another reason for the trip – a spot of business (discussing certain industrial cybersecurity projects). But enough about work already (more on the work topic in an upcoming post from Sochi); today – it’s all about the fishing!…