Do not pass up an opportunity to adventure with Russians. You may come face to face with your mortality, but upon surviving, will have a memory to tell grandchildren.
We piled our gear on the fan-boat, and watched her navigate the first bend on Snowy river. Marching East just inside the border of Buryatia, we hiked the taiga to the confluence of the Snowy and Selenginka rivers. Collecting pine-cones, we cracked pine-nuts and plucked wild berries as we went. Citrine (yellow) tail waggers, red-headed loons, and Grey herons greeted us on our way. Standing like giants, cottonwoods of extravagant girth towered along our path. Julian the Caucus Shepherd, bred to protect villages from wolves, kept us laughing with his ridiculous antics and humorous view on life. Bounding rock to rock along Snowy river, we finally arrived at the fork of the rivers famished.
Pitch camp, start fire, prepare dinner, bed down to sleep under all the cold stars. This morning we trek further in to Sable lake, and may grayling await us. Marik, our commander, led an all out charge lakeward. Crossing raging waters via suspended bridge, scrabbling over fallen trees and along cliff faces like the fellowship of the ring fleeing Nazgul (Ringwraiths, Dark riders) we flew. Climbing up to the shore, we gathered in silence gazing out on silent waters. Kindling a fire we made tea, and a quick soup (it it amazing how quick Russians can whip up a soup on a campfire), and checked our fishing equipment for battle.
I drew my blade, the “Golden Sage”, an eight weight rod, to catch grayling, which is like bringing a broadsword to a knife fight. My sage I purchased to catch Taimen, or River Wolves, as they are sometimes known. Any grayling who took my fly was destined for “Ukha”, a Russian favorite, fish soup. Returning to our campsite at dusk, we cleaned the fish, made the soup, and broke out the star map. In Siberia, you can see all the stars. To be continued . . .