Russia : Kamchatka : #15 Forays into the Forest

29th August and our last day in the Esso area.  ‘Twas a very foggy morning that didn’t promise good things.  But the plan for the day looked interesting.  A morning drive out of town to forage in the forest;  then, after lunch, a drive to an ethnic village to experience a cultural dance and music show put on by some of the local young people.

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P1120134  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120134 © DY of jtdytravels

I mentioned the rough, bone shaking tracks in this area.  This was our ‘road’ to the forest.  It was really much less stressful to get out and walk sometimes!

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P1120125  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120125 © DY of jtdytravels

We made our way slowly to a hill on the other side of yesterday’s small lake.

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P1120126  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120126 © DY of jtdytravels

The fog/mist was lifting as we reached this summit.  The forest stretched to the horizon and further.  The dead trees were a result of a wild fire that went through the area about a decade ago.  They were probably dead Pinus pumila.

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P1120127  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120127 © DY of jtdytravels

Further around and we could actually see the river snaking its way through the forest.  By now, though, the weather had definitely changed for the worse.  It was 100% overcast and it felt as though the wind was blowing straight from Siberia, having originated somewhere above the Arctic Circle.  This was not very good at all for our rumbly chests.

And, by the way, those  ‘alcoholic medicines’ hadn’t worked.   I was still feeling anything but 100%.  Maybe I needed more? Alcohol, that is!

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P1120124  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120124 © DY of jtdytravels

There were signs of bears, the most tangible evidence were footprints in the mud.  Again, we knew they were around but we didn’t see them.  Thankfully, and hopefully, they were already full of salmon for their winter hibernation and were generally only interested in the berries that were ripening everywhere.  We liked the berries too, so we were doing the bears out of some of their vitamin C.  We just hoped that our foraging for berries didn’t make them angry!  But in reality, there were plenty of berries to share.

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P1120128  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120128 © DY of jtdytravels

Even though most plants here had finished flowering for the short summer season, I did find some more plants and fungi to add to my growing collection of photos of the Flora of Kamchatka.  This little beauty is Ledum palustre  also known as Marsh Labrador Tea.

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P1120129  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120129 © DY of jtdytravels

In this part of the forest there were several types of fungi growing on the tree trunks.

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P1120131  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120131 © DY of jtdytravels

Again, there seemed to be mushrooms and toadstools everywhere; a sure sign of autumn.  Most of the ground mushrooms had almost finished their task and were beginning to wrinkle and wither.  Spring, summer and autumn are all short seasons here.  All plants have to make the most of the brief time to grow and reproduce.  Winter is long and hard.

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P1120132  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120132 © DY of jtdytravels

Leathery and wrinkled.  All part of the ageing process, isn’t it?

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P1120141  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120141 © DY of jtdytravels

All around us was evidence of past volcanic activity.

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P1120152  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120152 © DY of jtdytravels

A climbing Aconitum species;  possibly Aconitum fischeri var.arcuatum or Aconitum alboviolaceum.  I’d never seen a climbing, twining Aconitum species before.  Intriguing.

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P1120151  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120151 © DY of jtdytravels

The plant contains poisonous aconite, but according to ancient Chinese medical lore, it can be used in the treatment of colds, coughs, and fevers.  Perhaps that’s what we all needed a does of.   However, if the dosage is not carefully measured, prepared, and used – if the measure used is even in the slightest degree inaccurate – aconite is pure poison.  Best left alone!  Just put up with the cold and chestiness.

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P1120140  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120140 © DY of jtdytravels

Poisonous this plant maybe, but the flower is a delight.

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P1120143  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120143 © DY of jtdytravels

And what about these beauties growing in the undergrowth.  A species of Amanita.

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P1120150  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120150 © DY of jtdytravels

And this is one of the most recognisable toadstools, the quintessential fairy home, an Amanita sp.  I looked, but I didn’t see any fairies sheltering under this umbrella. Maybe they were just shy!

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P1120148  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120148 © DY of jtdytravels

Interesting bark of Betula platyphylla ; Flat-leaved Birch

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It had been a good morning in the forest despite the rough tracks.  We called back to the hotel for a quick lunch.  While there, I checked on the flashing EXIT sign in our room.  And, yes.  It was still flashing!

During dinner the previous evening,  the babushka who runs the hotel came into the eating area with a young man at heel who proceeded to check the fire detection units attached to the ceiling.   We’d noticed earlier that the ‘EXIT’ sign in our room was flashing continuously, but of course, took no notice.  There were no flashing lights or sirens and definitely no smoke or flames!  Thirty something hours later the ‘EXIT’ sign was still flashing and still there was no sign of smoke or fire.  We would no doubt sleep peacefully again for another night under the flashing light.  I have no idea what the matter was, nor do I expect to find out.  Where were we?

P1120159  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120159 © DY of jtdytravels

After lunch we drove for about 25 kms to another part of the forest to visit an ethnic village.  Near the entrance track to the village we saw this colourful sight.  Whatever the faith of these local people, they believed in using prayer flags made of strips of material to send their thanks and entreaties to their god/gods.

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P1120158  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120158 © DY of jtdytravels

Here, we were greeted by a lady of the village who turned out to be the ‘mother-figure’ of the group of young people we had come to see perform.

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P1120160  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120160 © DY of jtdytravels

After her welcome, we followed a track to the village passing totem poles which stood proudly at the entrance of the village site.  Tents could just be seen through the trees.

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P1120163  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120163 © DY of jtdytravels

In the village area, we saw some interesting carvings placed here and there on the grass.

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P1120162  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120162 © DY of jtdytravels

I quite liked this otter sculpture.

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P1120198  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120198 © DY of jtdytravels

The dances were to be performed on a slightly raised platform.  The dance group consisted of 9 dancers who ranged in age from 12 to 30.   Dressed in traditional ethnic costumes, they performed some lovely dances.  They were introduced by the lady we had met earlier and she did a great job of involving us in her stories.

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P1120190  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120190 © DY of jtdytravels

They were an enthusiastic group and seemed to have a lot of fun while dancing.   And while they danced, I took photos of some of the young people showing more closeups of their costumes and bead decorations.

P1120168  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120168 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120180  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120180 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120192  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120192 © DY of jtdytravels

It had been a very interesting visit in this lovely setting in the forest.  After that pleasant interlude, it was back to the hotel for a hot tub, dinner and bed.  But before got to sleep, the four of us in my room were disturbed by the arrival of two of our other lady travellers!   Their room, they said, was unbearably hot, just like ours was on arrival night.  OK.  Their mattresses were soon wedged into our room, on the floor.  So now I had five women in my boudoir!  Oh the joys of adventure travel!

I thought I might have been able to send an email to Jennie from here to let her know that we were all OK.  Not so.  This is the longest time I’ve ever been in any country that I’ve visited, even off the beaten track ones,  where there has been absolutely no internet access possible.  This area of Russia is really so remote.  It is just over 7000km to Moscow – and that’s as the crow flies.  There is no linking road from Kamchatka to Moscow and all travel in that direction is by boat and/or plane.

Do they have TV?  Well, yes, but not here in this guesthouse.  We did have a TV in our hotel room in PK but all programmes were of Russian origin so it was a futile attempt to turn it on because all the titles are in Cyrillic script, which of course I don’t understand.

No. The world, with all its modern technology, could have completely disappeared for all I knew, or in fact cared.  For me all that existed at the moment was our little bit of paradise in the wilderness of Kamchatka.

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of  jtdytravels

Our other travel stories and photos can be found on:

www.jtdytavels com

and

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

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