Russia : Kamchatka : #5 Mutnovsky Volcano

After crossing the Mutnovsky Plateau for three hours in our bus/truck transport, we were tantilisingly close to Mutnovsky Volcano.  But our driver could take us no further than the road head.  From there we had another three hours ahead of us trudging on foot over scree, ash, ice and snow and up a glacier to get to one of Mutnovsky’s craters.

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P1110314

P1110314 © DY of jtdytravels

It’s not easy crossing ice.  We followed each other, single file, carefully.

One wrong step and it would be a slippery slide down to the rocks below.

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P1110322  ©  DY of  jtdytravels

P1110322 © DY of jtdytravels

Once across the ice, I could take time to take in the rock formations around me.

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P1110323  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110323 © DY of jtdytravels

There was still ice aplenty on the ground.

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P1110324  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1110324 © DY of jtdytravels

It was a long, slow, tiring march up the valley.

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P1110325  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110325 © DY of jtdytravels

But the higher we went, the better the views of the Mutnovsky Volcano crater.

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P1110338  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110338 © DY of jtdytravels

While we expressed that overused word “WOW” many times, some had seen it all before.

 Our guide Sasha, in camouflage, and our interpreter, Gulya, stopped for a chat.

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P1110342  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110342 © DY of jtdytravels

For the rest of us, all this was new and quite spell-binding; difficult to take it all in.

It was one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments!  Am I really here?

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P1110345  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110345 © DY of jtdytravels

In front of us, fumaroles belched steam out of all that hot stuff inside in the volcano.

This is one volcano that is still very much alive.

There are something like twenty seven active vocanoes in Kamchutka.

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P1110347  ©  DY  of  tdytravels

P1110347 © DY of jtdytravels

Sulphur deposits.  These usually emit that awful rotten egg gas smell, but not here.

Perhaps the breeze helped!

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P1110354  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110354 © DY of jtdytravels

It quite takes your breath away looking down into these deep holes.

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P1110355  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110355 © DY of jtdytravels

Yellow, sulphur rimmed fissures could be seen right across the crater.

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P1110357  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110357 © DY of jtdytravels

Huge rocks had been blown out with a blast at some time whilst mud bubbles nearby.

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P1110379  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110379 © DY of jtdytravels

After walking around the crater edge for some time, we realised it was already 14h30 .

Well and truly time for a bite to eat.

We sat down to enjoy the view and to enjoy the delicious food in our lunch boxes.

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P1110380  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110380 © DY of jtdytravels

Then ’twas time to begin the return journey back down the icy valley.

Some folk already on the trail were now just tiny specks in the bottom of the valley.

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P1110384  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110384 © DY of jtdytravels

We passed a simple memorial to a young man who had fallen.

He was just 22 years old; a reminder that this is a dangerous place.

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P1110386  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110386 © DY of jtdytravels

A view of the track through the ice.  We had just walked across that.

In fact we had successfully crossed it twice: there and back!

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P1110388  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110388 © DY of jtdytravels

On the way, I noticed some plants that pioneer areas such as this after volcanic activity.

This one is Saxifraga merkii or Merk’s Saxifrage.

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P1110389  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110389 © DY of jtdytravels

Another plant that survives in this inhospitable environment is

Shrubby Beardtongue, Pennellianthus frutescens, with its small mauve flowers.

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P1110391  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110391 © DY of jtdytravels

Spiraea beauverdiana can be found in habitats such as this from Alaska to Japan.

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P1110404  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110404 © DY of jtdytravels

This bright red berry is the Lingonberry, a favourite food of bears.  Lingonberry, Vaccinium vitas-idaea is found in the cold to moderate zones of the whole of the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s a valuable medicinal plant and is high in vitamins.

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P1110396  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110396 © DY of jtdytravels

We detoured on the way back to camp to look down at a waterfall formed when melt water from both the glacier and the remaining snow from last season tumbles over a precipice.   The first snow of next season will arrive before all the snow from the last one melts.  The water turned to ice at the bottom of this waterfall.  That’s cold!  Very cold!

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P1110406  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110406 © DY of jtdytravels

Here’s a landscape for all of you artists.  What a wonderful palette of earthy colours?

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P1110412  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110412 © DY of jtdytravels

A lonely Spiraea beauverdiana in a huge landscape!

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P1110417  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110417 © DY of jtdytravels

The walk back down took us 70 minutes.  We were all very pleased to climb back into our vehicles after our 12 km hike ( 6 up, 6 down). The return trip to our campsite took us two hours, back through the snow and ice, but this time with no dramas along the way.

After dinner we sat around the campfire and introduced ourselves and gave a short biography.  Six of us come from Canberra, and include the only two men in the group and one from Sydney.  The other three are New Zealanders.  It was then the crew’s turn to reveal all!

David

All Photography copyright ©  David Young  of  jtdytravels

Our other travel blogs are on :

 www.jtdytravels.com

Our Australian blogs are on:

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

One comment on “Russia : Kamchatka : #5 Mutnovsky Volcano

  1. Cecilia says:

    One of many “pinch yourself” moments. Great memories of an amazing place.

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