Same same but a nother country
02.09.2008 - 04.09.2008 19 °C
After a bumpy nights sleep of the train we dumped our stuff with our host family in Irkusk and headed out to lake Baikal for 3 days of trekking. We were met by a very serious looking Russian man whose name we instantly forgot or he never told us or it was something like Gimmal (he could however have been taking the piss out of my name). Brenda named him Russian Ray Mears (RRM). He presented us with a roll mat and sleeping bag which we attached to our bags in a similar manner to our trek 2 months ago in Guyana only then we had hammocks. We met his girlfriend (we think she was his girlfriend) and boarded a hydrofoil and headed to the lake.
We reached the starting point for our trek in glorious sunshine and with the thought of only having to go 9km we set off
We followed the edge of the lake (It holds 1/5 of the worlds fresh water, a whole load of unique fish but I don't know what they are called but I can't tell you its a tad cold) along the bank, at times goinging uphill at times coming back down. It was a very gental walk. Then we hit the uphill section, up and up and up and was the only time Brenda and I walked faster than Mrs Russian Ray Mears. We were beginning to suspect she was the Russian walking champion from the Olympics because we had only just started and she'd vanished round the corner miles up ahead. But on the hills we could out pace her, but then we had small backpacks and hers was substantially bigger (she was carrying our tent).
The views of the lake were pretty good from the top of the long uphill section. Here is RRM at the top
and me at the top
Following this we headed down to the pebbled beach and walked along that. This really zapped your energy, and at times I was beginning to doubt RRM as we'd come across vertical rocks that went straight into the lake. How are we meant to get past that I thought, simple take your shoes off and walk. Cold water and pebbles, was great fun. But we made it in plenty of time to camp 1, 9km from the starting point. Here we set up camp and had pasta and sausage cooked over an open fire - was pretty good. However after this I think RRM and Big Fat Dave have got together and played "what Gemma Doesn't like" cause for breakfast we got porridge. Yum, I ate some of it with huge helpings of sugar and then we were off again (more on the food shortly).
With 23km to cover today I guess the walk woudn't be so bad and to start with we walked through a lovely meadow, then the rain started and we got soaked. Much like guyana we had rain coats hanging from our bags in an attempt to keep everything dry, and by lunch my shoes had taken on so much water I felt like I was walking in a swimming pool.
So lunch was a welcome break, RRM had obviously been talking to Elvon and produced canned fish soup for lunch. Yeah!! But it was warm so I ate it. In the afternoon we were clambering over more rocks, balanced pricariously above the lake (ok it was only about 20 cm above but I could have got even wetter if I'd fallen, umm come to think of it no I couldn't). So on we plodded, it was decided that camping was not going to be the best idea, so rather than stop early we walked on to the village we were due to get the bus home from the following day and stayed in a house there.
After a warm night (shoes are still we though) we had semolina for breakfast (how did he manage it) and came back to a wet Irkusk. Lake Baikal was great fun, and the trek was brilliant, RRM was funny, he spoke some english but not a lot but was very funny nevertheless and congratulated Brenda on her Russian skills despite not really understanding her.
I am having slight computer issues and it won't let me upload the pictures in the text so they are coming at the end, you'll just have to fit them with the story.