Indonesia: Seloliman Resort; Minggu; East Java

Our ‘home away from home’ for the next couple of days was Seloliman Resort, an eco styled place with accommodation made up of cabins in a large garden.

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After settling into our cabin, my travelling mate Brian and I went for a bit of a wander around the garden, listening to the cicadas and watching multi-coloured butterflies flit from one brilliantly coloured flower to the next. The only down side was that the area also seems to be a Mecca for motocross bike riding. Their noisy exhausts echoed around the hillsides completely destroying the other-wise very peaceful atmosphere of the place. Never mind… there was much in the garden to enjoy and photograph.

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The front entrance of Seloliman Resort appeared to be nothing special, but…

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… it was a very unusual entrance….through a longish tunnel that had this amazing root growth dangling down from a plant growing above on the roof.

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The older roots were beige / white while the new growth was a brilliant pink.

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The gardens where the chalets were situated were large and laid out in a very natural way. Grassy and earthen paths wound their way through the lush growth.

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Large St Joseph’s spiders spin their webs within the foliage.

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The smaller spider is a male. He’s dicing with death as the larger female will devour him after mating! But what has to be done, has to be done, I guess!

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Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) has a form relating to its Latin name!  It’s an herbaceous perennial found growing in tropical equatorial Asia.  It’s been introduced into Africa, Australia and America where it’s grown as an ornamental. It’s also used as a revegetation species in coal mines in Australia.  It’s a legume, so it enriches the soil with nitrogen.

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This vivid blue flower is the commonly seen colour, compared to the one above.  There are also white forms.

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Parts of the garden were a tangle of cucurbit vines growing through the vegetation…

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A closer look at this delightful flower and it’s pollinator.

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This plant could well have a name referring to ‘fairy floss’, but I don’t know what it is.

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Heliconia sp., members of the genus are often referred to as Lobster-claw. They are closely related to the banana and are widely grown in the tropics as an ornamental.

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Another Heliconia species.

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A Hibiscus flower.  One of many thousands of horticultural forms bred around the world.

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And another one… I really couldn’t decide which one to delete.

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I was not familiar with this flower, so…

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I photographed the name on the plaque beside it… always a good idea.

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I checked it out on the web when I got home and found it named just as the plaque said, Jatropha podagrica hook. The site, ‘World of Succulents”, gave these notes as an addition to their photograph (left): “a tropical, frost-sensitive, succulent shrub, up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall (usually up to 3 feet / 90 cm). It has a swollen and knobby, grey-skinned stem (large bottle-like caudex) and green, smooth, waxy leaves, up 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The flowers are small, coral-like and bright red in colour.”

English common names for this plant include, wait for it…Buddha Belly (the most common name), Petit Baobab, Bottle Plant Shrub, Gouty-stalked Jatropha, Purging-nut, Guatemalan Rhubarb, Goutystalk Nettlespurge, White Rhubarb, Physicnut, Podagrica, Bali Gout Plant, Tartogo nut, Gouty Foot,  Gout plant, Gout Stick, Gout Stalk and last but not least, Coral Plant! So, I’m very thankful that it has but one scientific name.

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Selaginella sp.; moss.

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Allamanda cathartica, bursting with the colour of sunshine. It’s most common name is Golden Trumpet but it also known as Yellow Alamanda and Alamanda Canario!  All parts are poisonous if eaten; its sap causes skin and eye irritation.

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 A horticultural variety of Anthurium.

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A colourful millipede.

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A dragon fly taking a rest on a twig. Just look at those wings! So delicate.

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Peacock Flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), a tree widely grown in the tropics.

 

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This brown frog jumped across my path and sat still long enough to be photographed… and I caught the gleam in its eye! The brown ‘patch’ behind the eye is a thin tympanic membrane, or eardrum, that protects the inner ear cavity and helps to transmit sound vibrations… sounds that are essential for the frog’s survival.

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Crepe or Malay ginger (Costus speciosus) occurs throughout Southeast Asia. The name of ‘crepe’ refers to the amazing crinkled crepe effect of the petals.

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Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia versicolor) is an evergreen tree growing to about 4m in height. Endemic to Ecuador, it belongs to the Solanaceae family and is often found in tropical gardens. However, I’m not too sure why it’s so popular. It’s known that the flowers, leaves, and seeds of Brugmansia are very toxic and even the perfume can cause hallucinations as well as increasing blood pressure, a dry mouth, muscle weakness and paralysis. Since March 2014, this plant has been listed as Extinct in the Wild … so the only place to see it now is in gardens… and it is attractive.

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A young tree of Maniltoa sp. that we had seen before at another garden. Finding this tree was a delightful end to a very pleasant walk.  More anon.

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

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more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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USA: Alaska #22 Fox Creek Walk Pt 2

Having explored the beach, the group now turned their attention to a walk that followed Fox Creek into the depths of the conifer forest. Here, they hoped to find plants that thrive in the under story in the moist, mossy areas alongside streams. This too, is the favourite haunt of grizzly bears, especially at the time of the salmon run in these creeks.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110400

Bear footprints © DY of jtdytravels; P1110400

As they entered the forest, the group soon found evidence of bears in the area.  Apparently, bears choose to regularly walk in these old bear prints. No-one really knows why. But, the size of the prints and the spaces between them show just how big these animals are! Hopefully none were out and about in the forest! But the thought always added an edge of excitement to forest walks in the Tongass. So, time out for bear drill!  Stay together. Talk while you walk. Bears don’t like to be surprised. And if you do see a bear? The first rule is simple, but it may be difficult; DO NOT RUN! A bear can reach speeds of 60km/h and you can’t. Stay still, slowly raise your arms to make yourself look taller, and slowly retreat. With luck the bear is more interested in berries than in you.

Now, what about those stream side plants?

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Platanthera stricta © DY of jtdytravels; P1110401

Almost lost in the lush green undergrowth of the forest, the Slender Rein Orchid; Platanthera stricta, can easily be overlooked. It looks so elegant against the rough bark of a conifer.

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Boschniakia rossica © DY of jtdytravels; P1110411

Also in this moist, moss covered soil were several of the parasitic Northern Groundcone, Boschniakia rossica, which David had previously found growing under Alders. Here they were gaining their nutrients from Sitka Spruce.

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Oplopanax horridus © DY of jtdtravels; P1110405

One plant to be especially wary of is the well named Devil’s Club; Oplopanax horridus.  Those thorns are horrid; the species name says it all! Despite that, this plant has been used by the native peoples for centuries for its medicinal properties. The roots and inner bark have been used to treat ailments such as arthritis and diabetes, ulcers and stomach upsets. Just getting to the inner bark must have been a daunting process. The stems were also used as fish lures. Some groups believed that charcoal made from burning the stems would protect the wearer from evil powers if used as face paint for ceremonial occasions.

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Oplopanax horridus © DY of jtdytravels; P1110426

The pyramidal terminal head of buds that forms the “Devil’s Club’ becomes a rather attractive head of white flowers. These are followed by bright red berries which aren’t edible for humans but are a favourite food for bears…. and this forest is known to be home to many bears.

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Arnica latifolia © DY of jtdytravels; P1110416

Making a showy statement in the green of the forest was this bright and cheerful, yellow daisy, Mountain Arnica; Arnica latifolia. How can anyone resist the temptation to take a photo of such a flower? 

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Arnica Latifolia © DY of jtdytravels; P1110419

A closer look, shows many tiny flowers bursting out from buds which are clustered on the central disc. Those yellow bracts are strikingly veined. So intricate… and yet so many people often pass them by as ‘just a daisy’!

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A fallen tree over the creek © DY of jtdytravels; P1110421

A tree, fallen across the creek, its trunk now covered in moss, was surrounded by lush growth. When a tree falls, it opens up the canopy allowing light into the understory and that gives a chance for the forest floor plants to grow stronger.

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Orthilia secunda © DY of jtdytravels; P1110422

A fairly common plant found growing in moss covered, moist soils alongside a stream is the delightful Orthilia secunda, an evergreen perennial with deeply veined elliptical leaves. These leaves contain an acid that has been used very effectively, we were told, to treat skin sores. The white to pale green, nodding bell-shaped flowers are all directed to one side of the plant. This has given the plant its common name, One-sided Wintergreen.

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The forest at Fox Creek © DY of jtdytravels; P1110425

This forest was the most dense and lush that David had experienced on the trip.

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Lysichiton americanum © DY of jtdytravels; P1110428

As usual in the wet areas of these forests, Lysichiton americanum, Skunk Cabbage, was in evidence. It also has the name of Swamp Lantern. Why?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swamp Lantern from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A search on images on the internet supplied the answer! Lovely, isn’t it?

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Pinguicula vulgaris © DY of jtdytravels; P1110430

A close up of the flower of the carnivorous plant Common Butterwort, Pinguicula vulgaris. This photo clearly shows the 2-lobed upper lip and the 3-lobed lower lip with a white ‘path’ of spots in the throat to lead a pollinator into the flower.

It grows in damp environs such as bogs and swamps in places that have cold winters; in the northern parts of Russia, Canada and northern parts of the United States including in Alaska. At the beginning of autumn the plant forms winter buds so that it can survive being frozen.

(More about the carnivorous habit of this plant in #20 Georges Island walk.)

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Aquilegia formosa © DY of jtdytravels; P1110436

One of my favourite wild flowers is Aquilegia formosa or Red Columbine. The common name apparently comes from the Latin, columbina, meaning ‘dove like’. The petals and spurs supposedly represent five doves gathered around a feeding spot. That thought had never occurred to me! The spurs attract sphinx moths, the plant’s main pollinators.

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Crossing Fox Creek © DY of jtdytravels; P1110440

Here, crossing the creek, was the most likely spot to encounter a bear.

But not on this walk.

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Tiarella trifoliata © DY of jtdytravels; P1110441

Tiarella trifoliata is a small perennial herb. The tall leafless, panicle of bell-shaped, white flowers rises above the basal leaves which are trifoliate. It always grows on a north facing slope in the understory.  Common names are many: Three-leaf Foam Flower, Lace Flower, False Mitrewort, Coolwort or Sugar Scoop; take your pick. The last name needs a bit of imagination! This is another example of the need to use scientific names.

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Toadstools © DY of jtdytravels; P1110444

Moist, mossy areas; toadstools and fungi are a common find.

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Moneses uniflora © DY of jtdytravels; P1110447

The Shy Maiden; Moneses uniflora seemed to be present on every walk.

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Moss © DY of jtdytravels; P1110451

One of the many varieties of moss; each important to the ecology of the forest.

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Back to the Beach © DY of jtdytravels; P1110453

The creek path lead the group back to the beach.

This is obviously a much larger outflow when it rains heavily

or when the spring thaw brings water down from the mountains.

‘Sea Lion” was almost lost in the soft ‘mizzle’ that had begun to fall.

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Heracleum lanatum © DY of jtdytravels; P1110454

Alongside the creek, after leaving the cover of the forest, Heracleum lanatum, or Cow Parsley, grew amongst the grasses. This large perennial plant was used as a green vegetable by many native peoples. However, because handling Heracleum stems can cause severe skin problems and blisters, only the very young stalks and leaf stems were eaten and only after they had been peeled. They were also occasionally boiled.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110457

Rhinanthus minor © DY of jtdytravels; P1110457

Rhinanthus minor or Rattlebox was also growing amongst the grasses along the creek edge but outside of the fringes of the forest. The yellow flowers, protected by green bracts, have two lips; the upper one being hooded. This plant’s scientific name, Rhinanthus, comes from the Greek and refers to the unusual shape of the flower; rhin meaning snout and anthos meaning flower. The common name of Rattlebox refers to the noise that the numerous, winged seeds make as they rattle around in the seed box before they are expelled to the air.        

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Potentilla anserina ssp. pacifica © DY of jtdytravels; P1110458

A delightful, small, ground hugging plant, Potentilla anserina ssp. pacifica, or Silverweed, grew in soft, wet, sandy spots beside the stream. This is the only one of the cinquefoils which has runners and single flowers borne on leafless flowering stalks. The roots of this plant are of two types; long fleshy taproots holding them firmly in the ground, and short curly roots near the surface. Although bitter to the taste, the roots were boiled as a vegetable.

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The clouds descend! © DY of jtdytravels; P1110468

As the ‘mizzle’ turned to drizzled and the clouds came down ever lower, it was time to return to the ship, dry out, enjoy some lunch and share stories of the day with new found friends.

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1110470

A quick look outside confirmed the decision to stay on board for the afternoon!

There was to be a lecture on current whale research

and a briefing about Glacier Bay National Park, our next destination.

More of that very special place anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

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USA: Alaska #20 George Island WW11 Gun Site

From the beach, the walking group made their way up through the forest to the Pacific Ocean side of George Island. There, they would find an almost forgotten gun site from WWII.

Signpost for Gun Site Walk © DY of jtdytravels; P1110257

Signpost for Gun Site Walk © DY of jtdytravels; P1110257

The pathway up to the gun site was only completed in 2012. Before then, this was a rather forgotten part of World War II history in Alaska and the USA.

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View back into a bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1110271

The walk went by some delightful rocky coves.

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Rain drops © DY of jtdytravels; P1110264

The rain that had been threatening all morning began,

but it was only a light shower.

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Climbing to the top © DY of jtdytravels; P1110273

The path was steep at times, but there was always something to see;

a chance to stop for a bit of a rest.

The group spared a thought for the men who pulled the gun up this hill.

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Rocky Bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1110272

The higher the walk, the craggier the inlets.

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Another Rocky Cove © DY of jtdytravels; P1110281

Rock ‘stacks’ were left by the pounding waves of many a storm.

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Aster sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1110278

There were indeed big vistas, but there were also small plants to enjoy.

This Aster sp. was delightful.

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Moss © DY of jtdytravels; P1110280

As with all of the forest areas that we had visited, there was plenty of moss.

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1110296

Another rocky bay came into view through the trees.

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Platanthera stricta © DY of jtdytravels; P1110284

The Slender Bog Orchard, Platanthera stricta, is one of the Rein Orchards; stricta means slender. This one differs from the White Bog Orchard (photographed on an earlier walk) because it has green rather than white flowers.

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1110286

Another beautiful orchid found along this forest path was Listera cordata, commonly called  Heart-leaved Twayblade. The pale green to purplish brown flowers have a long lip that is divided into two lobes. Each plant may have between 5 to 16 flowers that grow in a terminal elongated cluster. It grows well in a mossy, moist part of the forest.

Apparently Charles Darwin was fascinated by this orchid because of the way it blows its pollen away in a explosive puff. The pollen, which is held within a drop of sticky fluid, glues itself onto whatever insect it lands upon, often a fly or a fungus gnat. The flowers lure these insects by having an unpleasant odour. So, they may be delightful to look at, but don’t touch or smell!

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© Dy of jtdytravels; P1110289

One very different moss in this forest is Hylocomium splendens or Step Moss, so called because its stems are twice pinnately branched. The 3-5cm long, step-like annual increments are clearly visible in this closeup photo. The age of a step moss can be estimated by counting these annual ‘steps’. This moss likes calcium rich soils as opposed to the the Sphagnum Moss , that prefers acidic, organic soils.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110299

Moneses uniflora © DY of jtdytravels; P1110299

Deep in the forest where little light penetrates, David found the lovely Moneses uniflora. This plant, which is called WaxFlower, has two, perhaps more appropriate common names ; Shy Maiden and Single Delight. The latter refers to the single, white, fragrant nodding flower on top of a leafless stalk. The name Moneses derives from the Greek; monos meaning one and hesia meaning delight. And I think you’ll agree, it is a delightful flower.

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Penguicula vulgaris © DY of jtdytravels; P1110295

Another beautiful flower is the Common Butterwort, Pinguicula vulgaris.  This plant grows in moist areas which low in available nitrogen. So it supplements its nutrition by trapping insects. The purple flower plays no part in catching prey and it’s held high above the leaves by a long stem, well away from the sticky insect catching leaves. The plant doesn’t want to catch its own pollinators by mistake! One of those amazing survival tricks of nature.

Another one of those survival tricks relates to the way this plant catches and digests its food. The leaves have two special glands on the upper surface. One, the peduncular gland, produces a wet looking secretion that forms droplets on the leaf surface, hopefully luring a small insect in search of water. But it’s not water; it’s sticky and traps the insect. As you might expect, the insect begins to fight for its life, but that only triggers more glands to secrete more sticky droplets. This secretion begins the digestion process and that triggers an initial flow of nitrogen to the plant.  And that brings into play the second type of gland, the sessile glands, which lie flat on the leaf surface. Those glands excrete enzymes which further break down the insect into digestible fluids that can be absorbed into the plant through special holes in the leaf. And that just leaves the insect’s exoskeleton on the leaf. And that’s just another example of what makes learning about plants so fascinating, don’t you think?

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Cornus canadensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1110305

In that same moist area, covered yet again in moss, there were more of the lovely Dwarf Dogwood; Cornus canadensis.  This perennial plants forms a wide mat of oval leaves borne in whorls above the moss on erect stems. White, oval bracts surround tiny greenish flowers. These are followed by the red berries, locally called Bunchberries.

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An ocean side rocky cove © DY of jtdytravels; P1110296

The Butterwort and Dogwood were growing beneath trees above this rocky cove.

And out beyond the cove, the Pacific Ocean stretches thousands of kilometres.

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The gun © DY of jtdytravels; P1110309

And here at last was the gun; an eighteen ton (36,000 pounds) steel gun.

Yes. ‘Twas indeed  mighty effort to get it up here.

But this gun was never fired in anger.

It was fired but four times after they eventually got it in place in 1942. A target was set up to test the gun. On the fourth shot, the the gun mount sheered and the gun jumped back a few inches. The stand came down on one of the men’s foot and broke his toe. And that was that. The gun was covered over and never fired again. It was also almost forgotten. All of the other guns that the US set up in Alaska to target a possible invasion by the Japanese have gone; broken down or pushed into the sea for the fish to swim around. This is the only one that is left standing. And only very recently, the path to the gun was restored; a piece of history

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The mount of the gun © DY of jtdytravels; P1110315

The gun mount looks sturdy enough!

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Looking down the barrel © DY of jtdytravels; P1110323

Isn’t it amazing, that even in a place like this,

people can leave their trash behind!

What happened to the wilderness etiquette? Pack it in, pack it out!

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The magazine  © DY of jtdytravels; P1110313

The ammunition was stored here. Not much was used!

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Inside the magazine © DY of jtdytravels; P1110322

At least they removed the ammunition when they left the site.

There’s not much to see here now.

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What’s left of an accommodation hut © DY of jtdytravels; P1110307

The accommodation quarters have seen better days. Life was tough for the gunners who were posted here.  It’s a blustery, windy, often cold and wet place. Despite the rain, there was very little water; none in the winter, because it would freeze. Most of the men went back to Sitka. Two men remained but it wasn’t long before they also locked up and left.

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View from gun site © DY of jtdytravels; P1110312

Looking north from the gun site.

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1110317

One last look out across a bay to snow topped mountains beyond.

Across the ocean, by about 4,000 kms, is Kamchatka where David explored a couple of years ago. His experiences of the many volcanoes in that part of Russia, and the wonderful variety of plants and mushrooms he found there, are written up with photos on our other web site: www.dymusings.com

 

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Back at the beach © JT of jtdytravels; P1140016

As the walkers returned from the gun site, the kayakers also came back to the bay.

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Returning the kayaks to ‘Sea Lion’.© JT of jtdytravels; P1140018

One last task for the crew; return the kayaks to “Sea Lion’.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1140021

The weather closed in again, but no one was concerned. Lunch was served.

More anon

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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Russia : Kamchatka : #16 Esso to Tolbachik Volcanic Region

Our destination today was a volcano in the Tolbachik Volcano Region which last erupted in 2012 – only last year!  To see where that is on the Kamchatkan Peninsula, let’s have another look at that map provided by our tour company, Silk Road Adventures. (www.silkroad.co.nz)

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P1120637  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Map Courtesy of Silk Road Adventures

Leaving  Esso, we headed back out to the main North/South Kamchatkan road.  We then drove north on that road before turning off to the east onto another of those all too familiar rough bush tracks.  This one was really only wide enough for a conventional 4WD, not our monster of a 6WD truck.  With the combination of bushes and trees banging against the side of the vehicle and the continual lurching due to the very rough track, it was hard to stay seated in any comfort at all.  Holding on tight, we knew that we were in for another adventure.

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P1120225  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120225 © DY of jtdytravels

When we came, thankfully, to a stop, it was in the middle of a braided river.  Why here?  Usually, there is a superb view of volcanoes from here.  But today, clouds, unfortunately, blocked out any long distance view from this site.

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P1120229  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120229 © DY of jtdytravels

We were back into icy cold, melt water territory.

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P1120231 © DY of jtdytravels

This rather unlikely place was where we had our lunch!

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P1120268  ©  Dy  of  jtdytravels

P1120268 © DY of jtdytravels

Our next stop was to collect some firewood for the evening fire.  From here, we were told, we would turn onto the beginning of the bad road.  So the other road was a good road, was it?  We had arrived at the area of the 2012 Tolbachik Volcano eruption.  The red blotch on the map represents the lava flow. The finger of lava to the left had completely cut off the road to our destination.  Our track had been bulldozed through the bush below the lava.  We were heading to make our camp site at the blue square marker to the left of the large deep pink blob.

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P1120241  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120241 © DY of jtdytravels

The new ‘track’ through the forest was nothing better than a goat track through the bush, something you could expect of a logging track back home.

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P1120243  ©  DY  of  jtsytravels

P1120243 © DY of jtdytravels

And there, right beside the track, was the end of the lava flow.

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P1120242  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120242 © DY of jtdytravels

Another photo of the end of the lava flow as seen through these multi-stemmed birch.

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P1120257  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120257 © DY of jtdytravels

I walked to the end of the lava flow to find it was actually a collection of small to large rocks – definitely not solid.  I was scrambling onto the very loose pile for a better position to take a photo, when I noticed, above me, a very large rock which, had it started to roll, would have taken me to oblivion!  I beat a hasty, but very careful, retreat.

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P1120253  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120253 © DY of jtdytravels

This was a perfect area to search for mushrooms and fungi to add to my collection of photos.  And I was right.  There were lots of new varieties we hadn’t seen before.  Some of these were collected by our crew for inclusion in our meals.  I sincerely hoped they knew what they were doing because they all looked poisonous to me.  I don’t know their names; maybe some day I’ll find someone who can help me to identify them.  Until then, let’s just enjoy the variety created by nature.

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P1120233  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120233 © DY of jtdytravels

A delightful little parasol.

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P1120234  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120234 © DY of jtdytravels

This one with a lovely frilly skirt seemed to dance like a ballerina!

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P1120240  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120240 © DY of jtdytravels

There were several fungi growing on the tree trunks, too.

Another case of looking up as well as looking down when plant hunting.

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P1120245  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120245 © DY of jtdytravels

Bracket fungus like these usually indicate the demise of the host.

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P1120244  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120244 © DY of jtdytravels

This one was definitely a little showpiece!

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P1120248  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120248 © DY of jtdytravels

All these mushrooms and fungi thrived on the decaying litter in the forest.

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P1120250  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120250 © DY of jtdytravels

I was certainly gathering more specimen photos for my Fungi of Kamchatka collection.

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P1120252  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120252 © DY of jtdytravels

This specimen was quite gelatinous.

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P1120254  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120254 © DY of jtdytravels

A delightful mushroom study in nature’s forest garden.

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P1120256  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120256 © DY of jtdytravels

Blow flies seemed to like the moist top of these mushrooms!

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P1120263  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120263 © DY of jtdytravels

More lurching from left and right and back to front saw us arrive at this flat ash area.

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P1120265  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120265 © DY of jtdytravels

Another good spot for a leg-stretch and a bit of an explore.

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P1120266  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120266 © DY of jtdytravels

All that yellow colour was, in fact, a carpet of moss.  It seems to really like this area which is completely covered in a very deep layer of dark grey volcanic ash

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P1120260  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120260 © DY of jtdytravels

Right in the middle of the track,  I found yet another mushroom!  You know that song about ‘a lonely little petunia in the onion patch’, well this mushroom was much lonelier than that.  Although there was a little bit of moss for company.

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P1120270  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120270 © DY of jtdytravels

Late in the day, we stopped at a site which just emerged out of the fog from seemingly nowhere.  I’m glad Toly knew where he was going.  Now, this was not just another comfort and stretch your legs stop.  This was where we were to set up our tents for the night!  Here, on this ash?  OK. The ash and scoria looked dirty but in fact it brushed off your hands just like sand.

The trouble was that when we erected our tents, the flimsy pegs had to be anchored down with rocks –  the pegs wouldn’t hold on their own in the loose scoria particularly if the wind came up.  Note the beer filled water bottle in front of my tent!  It would stay nice and cold out there by the tent flap.  It was obviously going to be pretty cold here over-night.

Add to the fog – it started raining in earnest.  Since we were camped at over 1300m, the temperature was expected to drop to well below zero.  Our pre-tour notes said the temperatures we could expect on the whole tour would range between +10 to 30°C, so I brought an appropriate sleeping bag for those conditions.  I managed at the Ichinsky camp, as I’ve already explained, but I was somewhat afraid I did not have a sufficiently warm sleeping bag for the conditions in the mountains.  I had said that I wanted to buy a blanket when we were in Esso.  That would solve the problem I knew was coming when we headed higher into the mountains.  However, I was told that extra sleeping bags would be sent to us.  At 18h00, with the rain and fog outside, the promised sleeping bags still hadn’t arrived from Petropavlovsk, a journey of some thirteen hours.  I had decided to put on most of the clothes I brought with me in order to be warm.  Mind you, I would look like the Michelin man and not able to move.  But hopefully I’d be warm enough.

As bed time came closer and still no sleeping bags in sight, the crew decided to give us their sleeping bags and they would all sleep in the truck.  It had kerosene heating.  The driver slept in there all the time on one of the four bunk beds.  Now all the bunks were going to be used and we were all going to be warm – it was not only me who admitted they were not feeling very warm.

The whole camp slept warmly.  I certainly did.  BUT, all trussed up in extra clothing, sheet-sleeping bag and zipped up sleeping bag it took around 15 minutes to go to the loo in the middle of the night!  I wish somebody would invent a zipper for a sleeping bag that worked with ease – every time.  It always seems to be a struggle to get the damn thing to move either way and not get caught up in the lining.  Achieving an opening or closing with cold fingers just makes the task even harder.  Then it’s a real wriggle to get out of the sleeping bag sheet and sleeping bag, find something to put on your feet, crawl to the zipper on the tent fly, unzip that, and all this is just to get out of the tent!  A fumble around in the dark, the job done, and the whole cumbersome task has to be completed in reverse before trying to go back to sleep.  Fun?  Not!  And added to that, it rained most of the night with only slight pauses here and there.  We were well and truly back in outdoor wilderness camp mode.  But that’s all part of an adventure such as this.  I went to sleep hoping that the rain would ease for our walk to the volcano later that morning.

David

Russia : Kamchatka : #11 Bystrinsky Nature Park (b)

Our exploration of the Bystrinsky Nature Park continued with the backdrop of some of the mountains and volcanoes that we hoped to explore in the next few days.  But for now, it was all about finding plants and small ‘critters’ in the forest and in the wild meadows.

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P1110896  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110896 © DY of jtdytravels

I wandered away from the road and began to explore these wild ‘meadows’.

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P1110882  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110882 © DY of jtdytravels

We were each engrossed in our own wanderings and findings…

… all thoroughly enjoying the day.

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P1110885  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110885 © DY of jtdytravels

New growth buds of Rhododendron aureum ; Goldish Rhododendron

  Their golden yellow flowers had all finished weeks before.

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P1110890  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110890 © DY of jtdytravels

Seed capsules of  Rhododendron aureum ; Goldish Rhododendron

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P1110889  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110889 © DY of jtdytravels

Skeletal patterns of a decaying leaf.

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P1110893  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110893 © DY of jtdytravels

Seed of one of the Willow Herb family.

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P1110892  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110892 © DY of jtdytravels

 A beautiful, golden scalloped mushroom.

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P1110891_2  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110891_2 © DY of jtdytravels

A closer look at that delicate cap.

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P1110894  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110894 © DY of jtdytravels

What’s the collective term for these Inkcap Mushrooms…. a huddle of mushrooms?

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P1110895  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110895 © DY of jtdytravels

The Coprinoid family of mushrooms, or “Inky caps”, are fascinating mushrooms.  They are saprobes, that is, they assist in the decomposition of wood, dung, grassy debris, forest litter, and so on.  Most of the species have black spore prints and gills that liquefy, at least partially, as the mushroom matures.  The resulting “ink” provides the common name for the inky caps, and can actually be used as writing ink.

But the mushrooms, of course, do not have the production of ink for writing in mind!  Rather, liquefying the gills is a clever strategy for dispersing spores more efficiently.  The gills liquefy from the bottom up as the spores mature.  Thus the cap peels up and away, and the maturing spores are always kept in the best position for catching wind currents.  As this happens, the shape of the cap progresses from more or less oval (when seen from the side) to broadly bell-shaped and, eventually, more or less flat as the spores nearest to the stem are exposed to the air currents.”

{Notes from www.mushroomExpert.com}

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P1110900  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110900 © DY of jtdytravels

There was lots more to explore but the time had come to rejoin the truck.

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P1110903  ©  DY   of  jtdytravels

P1110903 © DY of jtdytravels

We were to meet by a bridge over a stream.  There, on the stoney bank, I found

this purple daisy, Lagedium sibiricum ; Siberian Lettuce with attendant aphids.

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P1110905  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110905 © DY of jtdytravels

Our driver, Toly, had filled in his waiting time by fishing from the bank of the cold mountain stream below the bridge.  But his fishing produced only one loach.   One loach between 16 wouldn’t go far, so it was suggested it might go into a soup.  We climbed on board the truck and headed back towards the camp and lunch.

Along the way, one of the group spotted a bear bounding off into the distance which enlivened us all.  But that was to be the end of bear sightings on that outing.  Better luck later we hoped.

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P1110908  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110908 © DY of jtdytravels

The stream bubbled its way through the forest.

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P1110914  ©  DY   of jtdytravels

P1110914 © DY of jtdytravels

Toly stopped again as we crossed the river just a few hundred metres from our camp site.  If we needed more fish, he said, he would fix the problem.  And he did just that, well and truly.  He dragged in fish after fish with a little help from our guide.  In around 20 minutes there were 10 fish lying on the bank.  I’ve never seen so many fish being caught from a river in such numbers in such a short time.  The fish were gutted and cleaned on the spot to be presented to our cooks on our arrival back in camp.

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P1110910  ©  DY  f  jtdytravels

P1110910 © DY f jtdytravels

While they fished, I found these elegant mushrooms by the side of the stream.

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P1110913  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110913 © DY of jtdytravels

A peep under that ‘skirt’.

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P1110798  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1110798 © DY of jtdytravels

Empetrum nigrum ; Crowberry, a valuable medicinal and food plant.

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Lunch was served shortly afterwards.  Today it consisted of soup, bread and fresh salad.  Some fresh jam had been made from berries collected around the campsite while we were away.  This jam added some life to the bread.  The driver produced some local beer which he had bought at the last stop.  Beer like this is dispensed into soft drink bottles for transport.  It was good.  More sweet biscuits, chocolates and wafers finished off the meal along with tea or coffee.

After a rest, we headed off again for a walk, this time from the camp site itself.  We found some more interesting plants, some in flower.  And, we did see some bear pooh!  So they were obviously around!  But we didn’t see any actual bears.  That was probably a good thing since our tents were rather flimsy things.  I’m sure that if a bear had wanted to enter, it would not prove to be a problem.

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P1110920  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110920 © DY of jtdytravels

Ptarmica camtschatica; Kamchatka Sneezewort

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P1110926  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110926 © DY of jtdytravels

Parnassia palustris, commonly called Marsh Grass-of-Parnassus, Northern Grass-of-Parnassus, and Bog-star.

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P1110935  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110935 © DY of jtdytravels

Seed head of Dryas punctata;  White Mountain-Avens, a member of the rose family

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P1110930  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110930 © DY of jtdytravels

A caterpillar well camouflaged with its host plant.

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P1110931  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110931 © DY of jtdytravels

A brightly coloured caterpillar blending in with the greens and shade.

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P1110929  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110929 © DY of jtdytravels

Our crew knew which mushrooms were edible and we often found them in our meals, especially in soup.   After wandering about for about an hour and a half, we headed back to camp to relax a little before just such a meal.

I broke out the two bottles of beer I’d bought the day before and shared them with Heather.  Very pleasant it was too, sitting at the entrance to my tent as the sun slowly sank in the west and as the cloud that hung around the top of the nearby volcano slowly dissipated.

Dinner consisted of a clear fish soup with large chunks of potato.  This was followed by our recently caught fish.  Flour dusted, shallow fried, no more than a couple of hours from swimming in that stream; you can’t get fish much fresher than that.  We’d been told by the crew that the loach was regarded by the locals as only good for soup.  But I guess when there are six different kinds of salmon available, all equally fresh, a secondary fish like loach is thought to be somewhat inferior; only good for soup.  Not so, we thought.  It tasted fantastic to us.  With more chocolates and sliced fresh apples and orange along with tea and coffee to follow, we again left the table more than adequately fed.

Not-withstanding this great day and good feed, I was a little out of sorts that night as I prepared for bed.  Why so?  At one of our stops earlier during the day a mozzie had bitten me on my upper lip.  The blighter packed quite a punch I can tell you.  My lip became quite swollen and felt as though I’d just been to the dentist.  Not pleasant.  It took some hours to subside, but I’m pleased to say there were no lasting side effects, although – I did develop a funny twitch, and a droopy eyelid, and my mouth twisted to one side, and I kept falling over….

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

More of our travel stories and photos are on :

www.jtdytravels.com

Russia : Kamchatka : #10 Bystrinsky Nature Park (a)

After the long, 400km drive from Petropavlovsk, it was a relief to know that we would be walking for much of the day, exploring Bystrinsky Nature Park.  This was a more forested area, so we hoped to find some different types of plants.

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P1110788   ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110788 © DY of jtdytravels

I had thought that it might be a cold night at Ichinsky Camp when I saw how much snow was on the mountain behind the campsite, and I was right.  It was cold.  When I got up at 06h30, I noticed that the small bottle of water for hand washing at the entrance to the mess tent had a frozen surface.

I’m not one to usually feel the cold, but when I’d gone to bed at around 22h30, I’d put on a tee shirt under my polo shirt.  This was topped with my woollen jumper and then my fleecy top.  I wriggled into my sheet sleeping bag, then into my sleeping bag proper and then covered the lot up with my towel and wind/waterproof jacket.  I was as snug as a bug in a rug even though I could barely move, all trussed up like the Michelin man.  I made only one foray into the cold at 01h30 – the cold was obviously having its effect!  I slept well though.

And another thing that concerned me.  The first sign of that head cold, the one that I’d been trying to avoid, had reared its ugly head and I had a sore throat.  Would it develop, I wondered?  Probably.

A bit after eight, which was nearly an hour earlier than the programmed time, our crew appeared.  They would have heard us up and about, and ready to go!  They had probably wanted to sleep-in and I can perhaps understand why when it’s that cold in the middle of their summer.  I don’t even want to think about their winters!  Some hot porridge warmed us and there were the usual two types of bread, cheese, jam, cold meat, tea and coffee.

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P1110802  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110802 © DY of jtdytravels

We set off about nine and drove for awhile.  Was this what we’d come all that way to see?

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P1110834  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110834 © DY of jtdytravels

The truck pulled up in a scrubby, treed area.  Now it was time to walk, each at our own pace, although we did have a time and a place to meet again further down the road.  The same willow and poplars predominated.  What had seemed rather boring from the truck as we drove by, proved to be anything but boring.  Although I didn’t find many flowering plants that I hadn’t previously photographed,exploring this area at walking pace produced some interesting finds including a half a dozen different caterpillars with as many different toadstools and mushrooms.   I don’t know their names but I can share them with you and hope you feel as though you are out there exploring with me.

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P1110805  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110805 © DY of jtdytravels

My first mushroom find.

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P1110808  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110808 © DY of jtdytravels

What a fascinating mushroom cap!

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P1110810  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110810 © DY of jtdytravels

A delightful natural garden of fungi and moss.

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P1110811  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110811 © DY of jtdytravels

These looked edible but one is never sure…. so best leave them alone.

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P1110813  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110813 © DY of jtdytravels

This intriguing flower, Aconitum sp., is one species of a large group of Aconitum plants which are aptly named Monkshood or, sometimes, Devilshood.  Also known as ‘Queen of Poisons’, the botanic name Aconitum comes from the Greek, meaning ‘without struggle’.  Toxins, extracted from the plant, were used as a poison to kill wolves and leopards in times passed and for that reason it was also given the common names of Wolf’s bane and Leopard’s bane.

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P1110814  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110814 © DY of jtdytravels

This was bear country so we had to keep eyes and ears open …

just in case we disturbed a bear enjoying the berries;  be we so lucky!

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P1110812  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110812 © DY of jtdytravels

Demar, our crew’s gofer, followed along at the rear of the group with a flare in case we were bothered by a bear.  He also had a shrill sounding whistle and some fire-cracker bungers.  But, unfortunately or otherwise, they were not needed.

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P1110820  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110820 © DY of jtdytravels

There were a variety of berries in the scrub to entice bears to forage, however, if humans eat these berries, Lonicera chamissoi (Chamisso’s Honeysuckle) they will be violently ill.  There were signs that they gave bears an upset tummy, too!

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P1110933  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110933 © DY of jtdytravels

Juniperus sibirica, is widely distributed in Kamchatka.

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P1110819  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110819 © DY of jtdytravels

There were other things to avoid besides bears.  This hairy caterpillar for instance.

Hairs on caterpillars usually equate to pain when touched!

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P1110826  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110826 © DY of jtdytravels

This one didn’t look in the least offensive and seemed to pose for its photo.

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P1110841  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110841 © DY of jtdytravels

What a handsome specimen of caterpillar.

However, I guess that red ‘tail’ may be a something of a warning.  Best left alone.

P1110830  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110830 © DY of jtdytravels

And this one was almost architectural in its design and well camouflaged as a dead leaf.  Its head is at the bottom of the photograph which could confuse any predator.

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P1110822  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110822 © DY of jtdytravels

Talking of architecture, what about this magnificent mushroom!

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P1110842  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110842 © DY of jtdytravels

This one more like the ones in the parks at home in the autumn.

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P1110880  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110880 © DY of jtdytravels

Occasionally, it was good to stand up, stretch the back and legs and enjoy the scenery.

A protruding volcanic plug stands out against the skyline.

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P1110847  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110847 © DY of jtdytravels

The prickles of roses were another hazard to watch for in the scrub.

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P1110854  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110854 © DY of jtdytravels

Bumblebees at work on a Kamchatka Thistle,  Cirsium kamtschaticum.

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P1110865  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110865 © DY of jtdytravels

Equisetum hyemale, or Scouringrush horsetail,  is a rather fascinating plant.  It’s quite common in Kamchatka where it sometimes forms thickets which were used in days past to pasture horses and cattle.

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P1110863  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110863 © DY of jtdytravels

The intricate structure of the horsetail rewarded a much closer inspection.

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P1110867  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110867 © DY of jtdytravels

Yet another elegant mushroom in a damp, mossy spot.

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P1110874  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110874 © DY of jtdytravels

You need to get down low to enjoy the beauty of these tiny mosses.

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P1110870  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110870 © DY of jtdytravels

A tiny forest of moss sporangia.

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P1110873  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110873 © DY of jtdytravels

A young Mountain Pine,  Pinus pumila, growing amongst the rough scoria rocks.

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P1110881  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110881 © DY of jtdytravels

The weather looked to be closing in but it was not too threatening.  We had not yet reached our meeting point and there was still time for some more exploring.  So off we went again to see what we could find.

More of that anon

David

All Photography Copyright  ©  David Young of  jtdytravels

More of our travel stories and photos can be found on:

www.jtdytravels.com

and on

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

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