Эту страничку я случайно нашел на архивном диске в октябре 2007-го. Кустарный html-файлик с плохо отсканированными картинками я собрал в сентябре 1994 года для своих американских приятелей и выложил где-то на гласнетовском сервере. Собственно, тогда друзьям в Москве было проще вживую слайдовник организовать, чем показать что-то в сети: мало у кого был доступ в интернет, да и само слово они не очень знали...

А сейчас забавно смотреть на это творение, конечно ;) И легко представить презрительно сморщенные носы верстальщиков и дизайнеров. Но мне, если честно, как-то наплевать, и я не буду трогать ни один тэг ниже этой таблички. И текст тоже не трону, разве что адрес изменю на действующий ;)

Так что вот - можно полюбоваться раритетом, нынче мало на вебе страниц, созданных 13 лет назад и потом не редактировавшихся...

A trip to Sub-Arctic Urals

A nice pebble beach a hundred miles south from the Arctic Circle


There are different traditions of spending summer vacations. Some prefer to relax at a sunny ocean beach, others travel to famous tourist attractions of the world. There are still others, who prefer wilderness and lack of any civilization. Well, this last statement is an exaggeration when applied to us, we do not like the civilized areas, but of course we do use high-tech camping gear...

More to the point. This is a short report on our trip to Urals Mountains in July and August 1994. And at the same time this is one of the first attempts to use the Web to let others enjoy the beauty of Russian nature. There are servers where you may find pictures of Russian cities and museums, churches and monuments. Here you will see rivers and mountains of Russian North. Since this one of the first my experiments with HTML document, please forgive its clumsy looks.


First, a little bit about geography. We spent three weeks in the Area which is called Sub-Arctic Urals. This is the part of Urals Mountains slightly down south from the Arctic Circle. The mountain ridge with the same name, Sub-Arctic Urals, stretches for several hundred miles and is the official border between Europe and Asia. This time, we did not cross the border, all the trip we stayed in Europe passing over spurs but not the main range. There were other trips when we did travel from Asia to Europe across the Urals, but that was a different story.

The real camping trip began 1,200 miles north-east from Moscow. It takes day and a half on a train to get there and there is no other way to do it. This is the area of Russia where there are no highways and if you really want to drive here, you will have to rent an open railway truck called 'a platform' and ride your car sitting on it. When you arrive to the destination, you can enjoy local roads, connected to nothing. A few miles of bumpy country-road beginning at the station and ending almost immediately outside the village -- I bet no American Jeep can negotiate them. Maybe Camel Trophy should consider this area for a next challenge.

This is one of the reasons for our choice of the area. The more difficulties are on the way to the area of our trip, the fewer people will be traveling there -- and we like real wilderness.

So, on the evening of July 20 we were drinking first toasts in the cozy compartment of a railway train. One of our friends, Sasha, a regular companion on a summer trip, has a birthday on July 20 and almost every year we celebrate the event in a train running north from Moscow. Once we were working together both being research scientists, now Sasha is the owner and the President of a small private company which makes nicely looking titanium nitride coatings on a table china. New position has not changed his taste to summer camping trips -- nor his skills of a hunter.

There were 9 of us on a train. Sasha and his wife with two their children, boys of 14 and 7 years, three of us, and two other friends, strong guys, we've been to many places together over the last ten years.

In our backpacks we had camping gear, dry food supplies for three weeks, and our favorite mean of transportation for difficult trips, a trimaran-type raft. Not the whole raft, in fact. We had three long balloons. On a river, a frame made of local wood will be tied to the balloons and the resulting construction will easily carry all nine of us plus all the supplies and the gear. The area on the frame will be approximately 18 feet long times 12 feet wide. Not small... But at the moment the weight of the balloons in our backpacks is 72 pounds. Eight pounds of dry weight per person -- a very good performance for a raft!

Will it work this time?

A trip in a wild area is fun, but work as well. By the night of July 22 we were on the banks of a small river Synya. It was rolling its shallow and fast current over colorful pebbles through miles and miles of a thick taiga forest. We were building our raft, but we knew that it was not the time to enjoy a ride on it yet... We had about 70 miles to go upstream to the mountains. And to pull the raft with all our stuff on it. This made it possible for the women and children to travel light. The men had to do all pulling and pushing. It was called a tow-path in ancient time. Do your modern campers know the word?

For a week we were doing all the towing... 10 miles a day hardly sounds impressive, but there was no need to hurry -- or to wear ourselves out. Ten miles of towing upstream is enough for a sane person. Ten miles of walk along unbelievably beautiful banks of a winding river were just fine for our ladies and the kids.

Up and up the stream...

No people. No trails. No signs of civilization around. Running water. Virgin forest, fragrant meadows, blue mountains on the horizon that slowly get closer day by day. Each night a new rapid sang a lullaby to us. Each rapid had some fish to share with us. Graylings, salmon, a challenge and a paradise for those who like spinning. Four of us did, and we were enjoying the place and the opportunity. The team had a deli fish diet and ate caviar with spoons like a soup... Have you ever tried freshly salted red caviar? They say, it's best of all on the second day, before and after the taste is slightly wrong.

After a week we were really approaching the mountains and the towing became too slow and difficult. We could not make a mile an hour because the river was too often too fast and shallow; besides, large boulders blocked the path. We had to say 'thanks' to the raft and to start a hiking part of the trip. For the next 25 miles we had to carry all the stuff in the backpacks. Up along the mountain brook, than across the pass to the valley of another river. This was the most beautiful and enchanting part of the trip. Mountains always are. Showers and the shining sun, a barely visible trail made by another group of campers like us a week before... Hardly more than two dozen of people walk this trail a summer...

Taiga was sharing its beauty and treasures with us. Blueberry and red currants, a 'golden root' -- a mild but very efficient natural stimulant that costs a fortune in Moscow. Here we had to pull out these plants to make space for the tents every evening. 'Golden root' likes these flat sandy places we prefer for the camps.

Occasionally there were log cabins on our trail. Made by the local hunters, they have no locks and are always open to anyone who passes by. The tradition long since extinct in more "civilized" areas. There such a place would be vandalized or occupied by the homeless. Here it offers you a friendly roof, oven and table. Just seeing these cabins makes one feel comfortable in the middle of nowhere, like a smile of a stranger.

A hotel, taiga-style

And then there was the pass. It's always great to cross a mountain ridge, to stand up there looking at all the peaks around, at the valleys below, both behind and in front of you. Quickly passing moments that you remember more clearly than other months. Cold icy wind, marsh with endless torches of cloudberry. The sky was overcast that day and the view was even more impressive than it could be on a sunny day. Urals is a very old mountain system. Alps could have been his grand- children. You can feel here these countless years, they are imprinted in the shapes and colors of the mountains. Gray hats and scarves of curling clouds are just the right dress for this old gentleman.

After the pass, a trail led us down to a new river, Vangyr. A few hours of descent along the creek jumping in a cascade of small waterfalls from one cool pool to another...

Next day we were again building our trimaran-raft. This time it was to carry us all downstream for 130 miles. Real rafting was about to begin. And real fishing. Graylings here were bigger, up to three pounds, and abundant.

Here, after two weeks of work we began to relax. Sometimes we could even take sun-baths in spite of millions of mosquitoes and other blood-suckers whose names in English I do not know. Fortunately these insects do not like fresh wind on a river. But in the camps we had to pay a great deal of respect to these creatures. A hundred of such uninvited visitors in a tent can easily spoil the whole night.

Again there were night songs of the rapids, but now in the daytime and around evening camp-fires we could listen to Masha and Denis playing guitar and singing all sort of songs, from Russian folklore to modern rock. Just imagine: an empty river, not a soul for miles and miles, and then plashes of our paddles and a guitar melody. Six people paddle on our raft, so Masha was free to do the playing. And the small kids, Marina and Anton were just passengers.

Downstream Vangyr river

It's almost impossible to describe the scenery and the spirit of such a trip to a person who has never experienced something similar. It's so refreshing because you change all your city habits, forget all your worries and live a different life for these three weeks. A lighter, a spinning, and an ax are the most sophisticated tools you use. You live in harmony with a river and a forest and follow their quiet pace. A tent protects you from the elements (and those sometimes are violent in the mountains of the North!) - and its thin nylon fly gives you more feeling of a home than any brick walls of a city house. You so easily can touch what they protect you from...

In these places, we never talk about lasers or computers, or business... Only about other rivers and lakes, other good fish and game, other mountains and trails. No phone calls to answer, no news to listen to, no movies to watch. True relaxation. Not that I would like to spend all my life this way -- but just great for a change after a hectic Moscow year.

So after the last week of quiet -- in spite of all the rapids on the way -- rafting downstream we are again at the railway station... And back home 38 hours later.


Back home means back to high technology. It takes a few days to type the log journal of the trip, to scan color pictures and to desk-top publish the resulting brochure... Yes, we are back to modern computer and video technology. Hopefully, someday we will share the tapes with you... but for the time being let us use the Web to show you a few kilobytes of fabulous Russian nature...

Andrey

<asebrant@yandex.ru>

PS. You can see me with Marina in this one...


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