November 01, 2013

Stolby and Stolbisty

Stolby and Stolbisty

I strap the belt of my shoulder bag around my waist, hunkering down for the steep, seven-kilometer hike to the top of the thickly forested mountain.

The trail starts as a paved road winding up a narrow canyon, foot traffic only. I pass young couples pushing babies in strollers with older children in tow. I pass senior couples, strolling hand-in-hand, taking in the fresh mountain air. I pass youths with tattoos and funky hairdos, chatting and laughing as they climb. Sometimes the hikers pass me, as I rest on a broad wooden bench by the wayside. They all offer friendly greetings.

At one point, I veer off the pedestrian road onto a wooden boardwalk that parallels the road for half a mile, pausing to read interpretative signs about the trees I might find here – fir, spruce, pine, poplar, birch – and the creatures that inhabit these dense forests – bears, wolves, lynx, badgers, chipmunks, deer.

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