The drive from Petropavlovsk to Bystrinsky National Park is a long one; over 400km. We were very grateful for having had a shower, some clean clothes and a good night’s sleep before we undertook this drive! We were also grateful to be leaving PK with its water problems as we headed out of town on the one and only road that heads north from the one and only city in Kamchatka. We were eager to be on our way; to experience more of Kamchatka’s wilderness and volcanoes.
Map courtesy brochure of www.silkroad.co.nz – organizers of this tour
That one road runs up a central valley which has a mountain range on either side but we didn’t see much of those because of the trees that grow densely all the way alongside this road. We did catch the odd glimpse of a mountain from time to time; enough to encourage us that there was more fantastic scenery to come.
Around mid-morning we stopped at a “truck stop”. Every vehicle seemed to stop here as they headed north, justifiably so, as it turned out to be the only place of its type anywhere around for a hundred kilometres or so in each direction. There was an eclectic mix of small shops but you didn’t go inside them. Instead, each shop had a little window for service, selling groceries, sweets etc. and beers. I bought a couple of bottles of beer, to find out again that they were Czech beers brewed under licence in Russia. I was still to find a local bottled beer.
We crossed small streams that were lined, predominately, with willow and poplar trees.
The waters were clean, washing over stones that had come down from the mountains.
Our lunch stop along the way was in a hall-like building in a small place called Mil’kovo. The food consisted of a choice of 5 salads, followed by a clear vegetable soup, then pasta with a choice of meats. There were some yoghurt-like offerings served in a glass and a semi-sweet bun. I opted not to have the pasta dish as I had been eating so well and I didn’t think I needed a four course meal for lunch. A beetroot salad, soup, bun and yoghurt, followed by a mug of tea, were sufficient for me. It cost the equivalent of AUD 6.50. You’d pay more than double that for much the same meal back home.
We ate in a large hall that had the appearance of having another life as a dance hall or meeting hall when not making money during the day serving lunches.
There were murals on the walls and a couple of mirror balls hanging from the ceiling.
The scenery was very much the same all the way. Trees and streams and not much else.
As we neared our destination and gained elevation, the trees shrank in size. Broader patches of ground-hugging plants started to take over. This was typical bear country; very similar to the country I experienced in Yellowstone National Park a couple of years ago. At one point, the crew in the front cabin did see a bear heading off into the scrub but it was too far ahead for us to see. Comfort stops occurred every hour or so. In good Aussie fashion, these stops were ‘ladies to the right, men to the left’. There are no ‘facilities’ out here. These stops were also an opportunity to stretch our legs.
We now began to see the spine of mountains beyond the road and anticipation of more exploring in the wilderness began to mount. But we didn’t arrive at our camp site until nearly seven o’clock.
Finding a clear space to set up tents between the small shrubs was a bit tricky here at Ichinsky Camp. It was good to see the mess tent up and running. Dinner would soon be ready as we now had an extra member of the crew. Viktoria (Vika), who is a delightful person with a grown family, had come to help Galena with the cooking.
Once my tent was up and my bag stowed, I set off to explore the rest of the campsite. There were a few rough cabins inhabited while we were there by a group of young people involved in some environmental studies.
I didn’t find many flowers; just evidence of wild rose blooms that had come and gone.
This one with the spherical hip, a common rose in Kamchatka, is Rosa amblyotis,
a pink flowering rose known commonly as Blunt-auriculate Rose
There are a couple of different wild rose species here as the shapes of the hips indicate.
These elliptical hips belong to Rosa acicularis, the Prickly Rose.
And this one, with more pear shaped hips, is the much more common Rosa rugosa.
It has large crimson flowers and is often seen by the coast in Kamchatka
as well as in crowberry fields, stony and grassy slopes.
And there were lots of berries, so beloved by bears.
Here, two types of berries are growing together… a berry fruit salad for bears!
.From the campsite, there was a tantalizing view of the mountains beyond.
That snow gave a good indication that it would be rather cooler here for sleeping!
But Galena and Vika made sure that we wouldn’t go to bed hungry. They had cooked up a storm for dinner that put the cook(s) back at our Hotel Geyser in PK to shame, and our cooks did it all on very meagre equipment.
To whet your tastebuds, I’ll describe the fare. For starters, there was sliced red salmon and ham along with a couple of types of bread and a salad of red tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber. Next came a meat patty and mashed potato followed by many different types of “sweets” in the form of wafer biscuits, chocolates and a Swiss roll-type log cake. On nights when there was more time to prepare the meal, Galena cooked a delicious clear soup and the main meal usually came with some vegetables.
Although we had to put up and pack up our own tents, there were no rosters to help the cooks with preparing the food for a meal or for washing up afterwards. On an adventure trek like this, that was sheer luxury!
I crawled into my tent rather tired from the drive but looking forward very much to the next few days in the wilderness. But more of that anon.
All photography Copyright © DY of jtdytravels
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