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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Kamchatka, Russia - 18 July, 2003

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Camp site at a former geologists station N5545.016' E16025.437' 1,003 meters .
Finish Camp site N5551.263' E16031.166' 1,364 meters 16 km (by foot)

Total (by train):

766 km

Total (Kamchatka):

585 km

Total (other):

139 km

Total:

1,490 km

 

Weather: In the morning overcast, cool/warm and humid with light rain until 10 AM.  In the afternoon partly cloudy with occasional sun.  In the evening, cold, windy and misty with clouds coming and going.  Very cold overnight.

 

 

We wake up to the light patter of real rain drops on our tent.  The weather has turned for the worse.  We lay back in our tent and hope that it will stop before we have to get up and pack up our gear.  At about 7:30 AM Lars has to get up due to a call of nature.  He just hopes that the rain has slowed down the bugs.  Wishful thinking - it turns out to be a nightmare experience with the bugs certainly taking advantage of all exposed skin.

 

By this time the rain has slowed down and pretty much stopped, so we take the opportunity to pack up our gear and tent.  Once we have done that, we carry all our gear into the cabin to keep it dry in case the rain resumes.  Breakfast is around the crowded table in the cabin, after which we hang around while everyone gets organised to leave.  The rain comes and go and we decide to wear our wet weather gear - it is hard to tell how bad it may get.  Just before 10 AM we are on our way.

 

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We make our way down the steep slope to the stream where we had collected water and crossed the now rushing water to the other side.  We spent a good part of the morning hiking up a dried out river bed.  It is tough going walking on, over and around the many boulders and rocks.  It takes quite a strain on Jacqui's knee.  And the mozzies seem to have followed us - they are swarming around us as we walk.  But we are fortunate that the rain stops about half an hour after we start walking.  We also come across varieties of flowers that we have not seen before on this trip.

 

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After over three hours of making our way up this stream bed, we enter a wide, green meadow that slightly slopes up.  We are surrounded by mist, so we are not sure what the terrain is like that surrounds us.  But it is very comfortable to walk on - soft and squishy.  But are boots quickly get soaked from the wet grass and shrubs.  We see some amazing flowers that are covered with droplets of water that glisten like silver in the sun light that penetrates the mist.

 

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We stop for lunch just before 2 PM on the bank of a stream, which we use to re-fill our water bottles.  We are now at an altitude of 1,360 meters.  As we are sitting there relaxing and enjoying our lunch, the mist rolls back and we get to enjoy part of the view of the valley that stretches below us.  The mist comes and goes.

 

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After an hour we carry on our way moving along the gentle slope of the flank of the volcano.  We cross the occasional dry river bed and one steam that has water flowing through it.  Finally at around 4 PM the clouds begin to break up and the sun shines through.  Our visibility has increased significantly.  Which is critical for our next sighting.  Just before 5 PM the cry of "bear" goes out.  Up on the ridge to our left there is a bear standing on the steep slope half way up.  We put down our bags and grab our binoculars. While the bear is quite far away, it is still an amazing sight.  After a few moments, however, he senses our presence and begins to trundle, or rather bound, up the steep side of the ridge. We watch as he hops from rock to rock and makes his way to the top of the ridge and over and out of sight.  What a beautiful animal.  The color was much more brown and lighter than expected.

 

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Lars then takes the opportunity to scan other parts of the ridge and is surprised to find another bear.  He is on the other side of the waterfall and is just wandering along.  It takes some time for him to note our presence, but then his reaction is the same - he rambles up the side of the steep slope and up and over and also out of sight.  It is amazing to watch them move - amazingly fast for their size and the terrain.  We are all very excited and pleased that we have been able to sight bears in Kamchatka.  Just no time to get our cameras out to take a picture.

 

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We put our bags back on and carry on.  We hike for another one and a half hours before we stop for the day at a spot on a knoll overlooking the valley below us.  We are 13.0 km as the crow flies from our last camp.   It is a great spot. The sun is out and we have wonderful views of two volcanoes and the flat, lava boulder filled plain between them.  We set up our tent so that we can enjoy the view and then scatter our stuff out to dry in the sun.  There are also not too many bugs - very bearable.  We go to a nearby stream to collect water that flows down from the ridge above us - produced by snow melt.  We also take the opportunity to take some photos of the stunning views - we are not sure what will happen with the weather.  We also take the opportunity to take some photos of the stunning views - we are not sure what will happen with the weather.

 

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We hang out until shortly after 9 PM, when dinner is ready.  We have what is turning out to be the common starter - noodle soup, along with some sausage with buck wheat.  Crackers and biscuits for dessert.  It is amazing what Victor can cook up in his little, portable kitchen.  As the temperature is beginning to drop, we decide at 10 PM to head back to our tent for the night.

 

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