After some splendid autumn days, the sky is grey with low-flying clouds when we drive out of Petropavlovsk. It has been raining during the night: at least, it is dry now. We head towards the west in a truck with monster tires, which somehow feels exaggerated on these smooth asphalt roads. But when we take a side road, and the driver stops to deflate the tires, I know we are in for a change. Indeed, another turn takes us right into the forest, and we follow a trail which branches off, skirts around thick tree trunks, goes up steeply in parts, and is very muddy. Even the big tires of our truck have difficulty handling it, despite the driving skills of the driver who at several points has to go back and forth a couple of times to advance on particularly difficult stretches.
Then, after holding tight to the holds in the car because we bounce from left to right, the forest opens up, and we see the shimmering of water. We have arrived at Tochkolotsch lake, surrounded by mountains, which are now largely covered in clouds. After having a snack, we head into the mountains, following a trail that is as muddy as the one we were driving on. It is very slippery, and we have to carefully thread to avoid sliding down the slope. After a short climb, I turn around and see Tochkolotsch lake below, squeezed between the slopes of the mountains and surrounded by trees. The strong wind of the previous days unfortunately has blown away most of the yellow leaves, leaving most trees empty and grey. We walk further up, and although the tops of the mountains are hidden by thick clouds, I can only imagine their peaks dominating this valley.
Vachkazhets once was a volcano until a major eruption destroyed it and split the mountain in three parts. When we reach the valley floor, we sometimes see patches of snow on the slopes and even see some snow where we are walking at around 700m altitude. The clouds give a mysterious feel to this environment. We cross a river by stepping on stones that seem like a natural bridge, hike downstream on the other side to reach the top of a small waterfall, our destination of the day. We clamber down, until we reach bottom and look up at the water rushing down, and stay for a while to enjoy the tranquillity of the place and the sound of rushing of the water. It is time to hike back, enjoying the views as much as we can, and when we have lunch at Lake Tochkolotsch, the clouds lift a little, allowing a better view of the mountain range around us. The beauty of the place is reflected in the lake. Then, it is time to bounce our way back to the main road.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Vachkazhets (Russia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Vachkazhets. Read more about this site.