From the summer to the hills

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Autumn begins much earlier in the Hills than in the city or on the islands. At the end of September it’s already chilly in the shade of the trees, and in the morning the tent is covered with frost. But the air is more transparent – you can see all the cities in the district from a big mountain, and at night on the horizon you can see the light dots of the Russian bridge. And here we go again together in the night forest, shivering from the sound of breaking branches. The storm just passed and we had to sit under the roof until midnight, waiting for the rainfall to stop. There’s a full moon in the sky and the storm cloud has moved to the horizon and is still blazing. It’s light and you can walk without a flashlight.

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Water drops fall from trees on the head and neck, roll down under the clothing and evaporate from the body, overheated by walking . The water evaporates from the road too – the mist is not carried away by the wind and is spreading low over the ground, recalling the atmosphere of the movie “The Headless Horseman.” We’ve been making our way through the forest for about four hours, a couple of times we‘ve lost our husky named Akela. Ancient trees are not so fun in the moonlight. All the colors have faded and the behind the flashlight beam there’s just thousands of meters of one big black-and-white photograph. We pass a waterfall with a small lake on the trail. Some steps of the path are made of stone. They had been laid out at the beginning of 00’s by Wushu fighters based at the foot of the mountain in order to climb the slope every morning and greet the dawn in prayers in the whitened tree gazebo. The hills heal. It’s four o’clock in the morning. We ate a bit and decided to put our tent right in the gazebo. It was getting colder, even though there was no wind in the gully, but the stones had already given the accumulated during the day warmth to the rain. The dog decided that sleeping on the rocks is dangerous and laid down on a mat in the gazebo, burying his nose in the fluffy tail.

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There was no dawn. It became light much earlier than the sun got up behind the Falaza mountain. Again, it’s wet and windy – the day before yesterday, we swimming and sunbathing, and now we’re putting on all that we have, to have time to fold the tent and and manage to not get a cold. We found supplies – stew and rice in cooking bags. Lunch is very rich: rice with meat, bread with cream cheese, biscuits with sausage, tea made of fir branches. Pasha opens a beer brought by Katya from Chelyabinsk. Delicious. I don’t even regret carrying a glass bottle to the top of the mountain. Along with cooking, we examined the site. Someone was camping upstream in the morning. The fire is still hot, the tent is stretched, and next to it there’s a hut of spruce. I wonder if they had heard us howling with the dog last night? Maybe soon there will be a legend that there are wolves on Falaza mountain.

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We started late. The dog refused to climb rocks with two and a half liter of water in a backpack. We earched for for a path through the woods for him. After an hour of searching with no result, we decided to go right through the deep forest, leaving the rocks aside. A little later we still had to face them, though. Akela saw a mountain of boulders without steps, quickly made us understand that he will not go up with a backpack. We had to carry the all the water. That dog is useless. The first hour he cautiously looked into the deep gaps between the stones and moaned piteously before each big boulder, so that we had to give him a lift every time. A couple of times he almost fell, but hung on the harness that Pasha held. Trusting the belay, the furry butt climbed the most difficult routes with no fear already.

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Two and a half hours of climb. It’s not slow, but the reddening sun is making us hurry up. At the mountain foot it’s already dark, but we’re sitting on the juniper bushes and smoke. Dog thinks that every bush is an island of relaxation and lays down on each. I would also lay down, but we shoud reach the top before the sunset.

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9 o’clock in the evening: we’re on top. Pasha can not find the cross – instead there’s a tricolor flag. The sun had set. Port of Nakhodka and Vladivostok bridge shine in the distance. We are not so far away from home, by the standards of the hills. If I were a giant, I would say that I live on the next street.

A site for the night was found quickly – right on the trail. A picturesque place hidden from the wind behind the rocks and not closed from the sky with tree branches. The temperature dropped to 2-3 degrees. We ate some dried bread with sausage and chocolate with condensed milk. It was too early to go to bed, but the thought that by morning the temperature will drop made us  anxious to hide and go to sleep, so we can have enough sleep before the cold weather.

It is midnight. The moon shines like a spotlight, the sea reflects and disperses. We went to sleep the three of us – me and Pasha in a sleeping bag, a dog curled up in a ball close to us. I woke up because the bag, hidden under the tent began to rustle. My fidgeting stopped the rustling for just a couple of minutes. We had to pull the bag from under the tent. I woke Pasha up so that he could take a look at the small but stubborn pika. It was the size of a thumb, but jumped on the bag so furiously that it seemed as if in she had tigers for relatives. Two minutes later the bag already crawled from the tent to the mouse den.

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Morning. It’s cold. At night, only hugs saved us from cold. And now I lay alone, because it’s time to take a picture of the dawn. Later the battery will die. For breakfast we had blueberry flavored oatmeal and  cocoa with condensed milk. Very tasty and home-style, although there is still wind and clouds.

We started off at lunchtime. The train comes at seven and the path is short, so we didn’t hurry. In the forest there was no wind at all, and we had the impression that this side of the Falaza mountain is much more comfortable – the trail is wide, the chipmunks are jumping and the birds are singing. The descent is quite steep and “trekking sticks” once again proved to be just what we needed.

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We passed Gribanovka village. On the way to the village we were playing the food game (translated from Russian): “I would now eat unagi maki. You start with“I”.” “I would eat caviar (“Ikra”) with bread and butter! You start with “M”.” The dog was covered with a layer of sticky seeds and looked no better than a homeless dog. We stopped at the river and ate dried potatoes with bacon and tea with a fir branch which I brought from the mountain top. Our further way is not as interesting. So I finish my story here. And hiking is cool :3

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Text: Anastasia Neroda
Photo: Pavel Boyarchuk
wildcampers.ru