August 26, 2007 – Getting into a Very Alpine Region

Camping near a spectacular lake

Sunday August 26th was a big day for us. We ascended 1,000 meters (3,280 ft.) straight up a steep trail. Along the way, our guide Fyodor, always the naturalist, was describing a lot of plants, the beautiful flowers of the area. We saw Edelweiss, we learned a Russian name for a tiny little flower that looks just like what we call Alpine Forget-me-nots in North America. We saw a giant eagle, and Alex is looking at smaller birds all along the way with his newfound interest in birds around the world.

When we first took off, neither group was doing well, especially Linda who was at the back of the line but chatting incessantly, constantly with Dennis, our guide who speaks very, very good English. The two of them chatted non-stop for almost two hours as we ascended. But finally when we reached the top of the pass, it was our high point for the day, the group was looking good but was definitely seeing the effort of having climbed 1,000 meters ( 3,280 ft.) straight up from our previous camp.

We ascended about 200-300 more meters ( 656 ft. – 984 ft.) and Dennis who had run ahead, prepared a lunch for us and by that time, the group was telling me they definitely were soothing the effort of having climbed that much. As we descended the rest of the way down, they soon realized as we always do in mountain treks that going down hill is harder than going up hill. Legs were getting more sore, joints were starting to complain a little bit, but finally we reached our camp at a beautiful lake, 1,000 meters (3,280 ft.) below the pass, so we had done a big up and down for the day.

Today, on the 27th day of August, it is much easier. We ascended up a series of 3 high points of benches into a beautiful very remote alpine cove that’s surrounded by giant towering walls of rock and glaciers with streams of water that look more like waterfalls cascading down all around us. We’ve left all plant life below. We are now getting into a very alpine region. I give you this call around 6’oclock in the evening. The groups are resting in their tent, we had tea in mid-afternoon. They’re keeping warm and resting tired muscles in their tents.

It looks beautiful above where we continue to climb higher and higher and as we report from our camp tomorrow which if things go well will be all the way at the elevation of 4,500 meters (14, 763 ft.) where believe it or not we’ll go to bed and spend the night high in the Fan Mountains.

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