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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Kamchatka, Russia - 16 July, 2003

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Tolbachick Base Camp at Lunakhodchikov N5544.368' E16016.765' 1,190 meters .
Plosky Tolbachick crater rim N5549.025' E16022.240' 2,867 meters .
Finish Tolbachick Base Camp at Lunakhodchikov N5544.368' E16016.765' 1,190 meters 23 km (by foot)

Total (by train):

766 km

Total (Kamchatka):

557 km

Total (other):

139 km

Total:

1,462 km

 

Weather: Mostly clear, sunny and hot.  Cool/cold at altitude.  Clouds on and off cover the volcano top.

 

 

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We have an earlier start today as we have a long climb up the volcano today.  After a brief snooze watching the volcano from our tent, we are up and having breakfast at 6:30 AM.  We get ready (and try to fill up our water bottles, but we appear to be running out) and are off on our hike around 7:40 AM.  We have a long day ahead of us.

 

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At first, the walk is up a gradual slope and it soon turns into volcanic ash, gravel and rocks.  Everything is black.  We pass a number of streams and take the opportunity to fill our water bottles.  At the beginning the climb is pretty straight forward - we have a ways to cover until we come upon the real flank of the volcano.

 

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We make a number of brief rest stops along the way.  At one stop, across a gorge we observe a waterfall.  As we make our way up the flank, we cross a number of snow fields.  While they can be slippery, they were easier to walk on than the rough rocks.  We had some great views back to where we had come from and even to where we had hiked the day before.  There were small cones like the one we had climbed scattered all over the plain.

 

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As we walked we observed even more flora and fauna.  We discovered flowers that we had not seen yesterday.  We also came upon a small bee that was moving slowly in the cold air.  There were quite a few small moths or butterflies scattered around.  They had an interesting black, gray and white pattern on the wings.  They moved very slowly - almost like they were frozen.  You could pick up the rock they were sitting on and give them a closer inspection.

 

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We slowly made our way up the slope until we came to the last bit just before the crater rim.  This was very steep and slippery and covered with loose rocks.  We had to make our way up this steep slope traversing back and forth very slowly and carefully.  But it was worth it to reach the top of the crater rim - we had the whole crater spread out below us.  It was huge.

 

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We reached the rim at 2:15 PM and the distance from our camp was 10.4 km as the crow flies.  We stayed up there for almost an hour.  We had a light snack, which was accompanied by what became the usual snickers bar.  While we were sitting and relaxing up there, the clouds were rolling in and out around the actual peak of the volcano.  But at all times we had a clear view of the crater.

 

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Jacqui's knee was hurting her, so we wanted to begin our descent, partly as we might be slow and partly as the cold air is stiffening up her knee.  This was the first time her knee had been hurting her since Norway in 2000, so it was a bit surprising as since then she has climbed many tough mountains in Africa, South America, Central Asia and even back in Norway with no problems.

 

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It is tough going heading down, but Jacqui is able to keep up a good pace, especially towards the end where it flattens out and the soft volcanic ash acts as a shock absorber.

 

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It takes about four hours to retrace our steps back down to the camp site, where we arrive shortly after 7 PM.

 

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We do not have long to wait for dinner, which is once again a feast.  Victor takes advantage of the base camp and the day to cook up some excellent food.  We have a large meat ball with mashed potatoes which is accompanied by crab salad, chicken salad, tomato salad, chocolate and biscuits.  Once again we have wine, vodka and beer to wash it down with.  We have brought some vodka with us, so we bring this out to share.  We do not want to carry the heavy glass bottles with us for the rest of the trek.  We have quite an enjoyable time learning some Russian toasts and getting to know everyone a bit better.

 

Once the four bottles of vodka are done, we reluctantly head off to our tent to pack our bags and get ready for tomorrow, when we will be leaving this camp.  We also take advantage of the clear views of the volcano to lay back in our sleeping bags and listen to our music while admiring the views of the snow capped mountain.

 

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