Having set up camp sort of in the middle of our journey through the bushes last night, we began our day by whacking through the rest of them, dodging roots and crawling over logs. After a couple hours of untangling ourselves from branches, we stepped into Yashir forest, a never-ending cathedral of gargantuan trees, green mosses, and cascading streams. The journey was steep, to say the least. Were it not for the fact that I was floored by the beauty of it, I might have found the constant upward travel a little tiresome. But how can you complain about a chance to explore a place like this?
Slowly, as we emerged from the deepest parts of the forest, we began to see glimpes of our greater surroundings--a giant cliff face and boulder field to our right, and snow-capped peaks to our left. Being in a rather silly mood, my conversation was a mix of wisecracks and oohs and aahs. The view opened to us fully as we crested a ridge, and we paused on a large, warm rock in the hopes that our still-wet boots might dry during some quiet time. Dry they did not, but the sunshine and views were welcomed.
Less welcome were the flies that began to swarm as we made our way down the ridge, toward the lake where we set up camp. When they had handed us bug nets at base camp, I wondered if it was a bit silly. I am obviously not from around here, because tonight I think I might have gone insane without it. Those who did go insane were Sophie and Fedya, who leaped into the freezing waters of the lake after the sun had set, which was in my mind the only thing that could have warmed them after the frigid dip. Apparently they are more warm-blooded than I am and seem to be totally unfazed. Even more insane was the image of a group of fairly well-adjusted people, leaders included, attacking a candy bar with a wooden spoon while wearing mittens and a beanie. It's amazing how true colors can come out when chocolate is involved.
It would surprise most of the others, since I am a rather outdoorsy Colorado native, but tonight will be my first night in a tent set up on snow. I chose it over the one on the rock for that very reason, a chance to try something new. Hopefully it will be a place of satisfying sleep.