Introduction – 1st Day
Before arriving to Krasnodar where our starting point was due I had travelled first from Helsinki to Sankt Petersburg and from there to Krasnodar with Vladimir (also in the same Hiking Trip) for 2,5 days and eventually conquering 2800km of railway network from Finland through Russia.
We arrived to Krasnodar early Monday morning 22th of July and walked through the city for couple of hours before coming back to meet other fellow hikers. I was surprised to see so many hikers at railway station everyone waiting for their own hiking instructor and driver to drive them to zero ground – starting location for the hike.
Our group was small enough to fit in a country van changed into small bus. I admit it was full and the atmosphere was growing in the warm climate of Krasnodar. Before finding us from the starting location we did our food shopping between our 3hrs driving and collected what we needed for the expected 8-day journey.
Starting point was hectic! You could smell the excitement in people’s face. My face was more of surprised when I couldn´t find much room for the food we had to carry having too much of basic equipment that filled whole back bag. In the end, first day was not hard at all more of getting to know each other. We did only few kilometres and more without heavy luggage. We put our tents beside the river and went to see the best of nature provides waterfalls and for a small swim in cold mountain water. I was also surprised to see rock climbers on the site.
The day ended with warm food and drinks with celebration of Nadja´s birthday.
When Real hiking started – 2nd Day
Morning was nice and cool! Sunshine heated our early breakfast and we could do wash up in the river. We backed our back and continued to different location again by looking our van and going to higher point in the mountains by using horsepower.
Achieving “the door” of Kavkazsky Natural Reserve was now at sight. Reserve that was to be expected to be full of humans, animals and beautiful Russian nature was near. We hiked around 20 kilometres this day, (so I think) with several stops. The landscape changed from rural Russia to mountain sights with hills of snow and rocks. As we found location for our tent it was already late afternoon. Some of us staid and had a rest as we others decided to do some trekking in nearby hills without heavy luggage. I decided to do some near mountain (2300m), which was about 3-400m up where we had our tents. When I arrived to the top, I was surprised I wasn´t the first up. 1,5hrs later I started my descending after good relaxation with beautiful sights in front of me.
The night was cold! It was really a surprise to find that the night what we had I wasn´t prepared for. It took couple of ours to warm me up before getting some sleep. This was probably for the reason that we were staying in the shallow place between mountains where sun wasn´t warming our night.
Sunshine of the mountains - 3rd Day
This morning was really a morning to be expected we (I and Vladimir) helped for the breakfast and started warming up in early sunrise coming from the other side of the mountain. The day was also the day to start trekking to Oshten (2804m) without our heavy equipment, which was about 800m up from our tent location. We started early and were given a notice to take some warm clothes with us.
As we started our climb sun was shining and I started feeling hot from the first climb. I had to start doing climb by shorts and without jacket. Views were spectacular! We ended doing the climb in couple of hours and having some fun at the top before choosing to start hiking back as the weather seemed to be changing worse although we had sun all the day. Coming down was not so easy for some because of the loose rock and gravel. I decided to trek down fast and do some downhill running as well – I HAD FUN.
Whole group had arrived to base camp about 2pm and we decided to continue our hiking the same day to different camping site. This was a different type of hiking day. First up without heavy luggage and now after the climb and descend packing bags and moving to different location wit all our stuff. We arrived to our camping location well tanned and tired. My legs and buttocks had some pain that I discovered and was worried about the next morning.
Couple of us like Vladimir and me decided to help the team and go for looking some tree for the fire. Others would do the cooking. The night was surprising and the first night to start playing some Russian card games. I felt I was lucky, it wasn´t so cold as the previous night. The noise and partying from nearby tents was also noticeable. Place that had the most campers in party mood in whole trip.
We started to feel ourselves as Hikers – 4th Day
In the morning I felt tired. Felt happy about the scenery and the sun what I saw but my legs had suffered some fatigue. I was worried about our next day going up and down in the hills but for nothing. The day was to take some sun and relax in easier climate than the previous day. We decided to hike to the mountain valley camping site on the other side of the Oshten and its surrounding valleys, which was nice to know to understand we had some warm night ahead of us.
Between points of arrival we had some stops with one to recommend was the pure mountain lake, which surrounded with cool and warm relaxation. From there we went up to the hills and found mountain glacier where one child and her parent was fooling around in snow.
The best side was to come down from the mountains, views where spectacular and for most of us hiking got so much easier to do descending than ascending. Beside us was 160cm of green plants almost hiding us in the side of walking down in shallow paths. Spectacular was also the sight of huge waterfall coming from the mountainside of Oshten all the way down to the Valley camping site and onwards creating a large river beside us where we had our sleep.
The day ended with football match between representations from Finland and Krasnodar, picking wood for cooking and eating good proper food with potatoes and carrots. In the evening Vladimir did some singing and guitar playing beside the river and made the ladies happy.
The Day to remember being wet - 5th Day
Morning was surprise; in the evening I had plunged to the water with having still my shoes wet in the morning. Looked up and saw possibility that we might get some rain on us. Eventually we got, but before this the ascending path of ours was something to be remembered! Especially on scenery took my breath away showing mountain valley straight from high altitude to hundreds of kilometres on words. We could see the deepest sides of the forests – I was thinking what might be the case me being in the furthest point of the valley, feeling was fascinating.
It started raining but only rained about and hour or two and we started having some sun when we made over to next part of the mountain. We stopped in mountain “village” to have a small snack where local farmer also introduced himself. After this point I could notice people started getting tired of hiking and where looking after a place to have a stop.
After and walk to next mountain valley we did our stop. Put up our tents and had a walk through implementation of Skiing centre to woods full of mushrooms – the place where I made the quote for the moment as mushroom effect place being full Russians excited about the funny little plant living in the forest and still be happy by not seeing the expected waterfall what we were originally be discovering.
The night was cool but fun. We had mushroom soup and some warm tea to make our minds happy.
We were getting prepared to end our hiking in the forest - 6th Day
In the morning of 6th Day most of us felt happy of going back to the beach and doing some sun bathing instead of hiking in the cold but sunny mountains. For me I was up for hiking but was also happy if I could see the Sea more than just couple of hours as we had scheduled that to be. So therefore we started our descending down to furthest point of woods and getting prepared for last camping night in the mountain sights.
The scenes between the camping sites were now getting trees around them. Paths were going down and climate was changing more human like. We started seeing more of the hiking groups and travelled down with one of them. I decided to do some fast hiking and get my feet in shape – I was sweating while I got down from the mountain.
In the same time I felt happy arriving to the camping site but sad leaving the mountains behind. For our happiness we decided to take a match in football and do mixed team from Krasnodar, Sank-Petersburg/Finland against young boys from around other parts of Russia. Luckily we won although the surface was slippery and as of me fell down couple of times and got ones ball into my face. No injuries though!
The night what we had was full of beer and Vodka. Our friend campers from the fifth night came beside us and started talking. I was popular sight, coming from Finland!
Arrival to greater Sochi – 7th Day
We started our morning early and got to our transport and of we went. Between our travels got me thinking of returning and seeing how things might look when Olympic games are on. We would see this later!
Our arrival to the Black Sea was nice. We had some swim and enjoyed the saltiness of the water. The same day we saw two other little beach towns belonging to the Greater Sochi and ate the local delicacies as well plaid some Russian pool while we waited for train and outside was raining.
Our food for the night was special because of the Navy Celebrations and our fellow Sergei. The feeling was cool and nice, as we had arrived to the Black Sea.
The end was near – 8th day
Some of the group had already decided to stay in hotel at nearby village already yesterday. But today most of the younger ones decided to leave. I made comment to visit the town of Adler where we headed, which was nice place to see although Olympic building had some effect on the experience to us.
The night was our last night camping but for food we had the best what we could have taken under considerations of our place and time. We ate well and had some company from next-door campers. It was time to get some sleep and to see the real Sochi tomorrow. The race was nice and beautiful and I would recommend the trip to those of inexperienced in hiking and people of small budget.