Winter trip to Baikal

Wintry Baikal... Pristine vastness of frozen Baikal, transparent iced treasures, turquoise to blue colors of clearest ice under your feet, thousands of patterns of the cracks in the ice, watching which you never get tired of, the grandest ice-rink flows under the ice-skates and makes you feel great, thousands of stars in the dark velvet sky which are never seen in the city, freezing freshest wind which tickles your neck - Baikal embrace. I feel full and happy. I am safe. I am home. Thank you for everything!  

 My trip this march 2013 started in Listvyanka where we got on the hover and went for one-day ride to Peschanka. This place is so quiet in winter, unlike the summer time when it is kinda crowded, no wonder - this place is nolike others. Clearest ice let us fell absolutely free skating. The wind was carrying us. The man was bringing water from the lake for heating Banya, and we were jealous of how quiet and smooth his life must be here. A simple wooden Banya on the very shore of the lake with an ice-hole at the cozy quiet bay- that's a dream! 
We climbed the nearest rock to look at the bay from the top, tasted Pelmeni upon returning back, enjoyed  the fire and saturated ourselves with the smoke! This night we spent in a marquee tent on the ice of Baikal. In March due to the day/night temperature change, the ice on Baikal breaks and shoots, showing that there is life under it's shield. We were watching the fire and drying our wet feet next to it, barbecued the Omul - Baikal fish and smoked the fat (Salo) on the cane, while waiting for the Siberian brown bear to come see us from the dark bushes, listening to each strange noise coming from the forest.
The next day started with screwing the ice-hole for getting some water for preparing the food on the fire. The hole was used later as well as 6 others for ice-fishing. In the afternoon the same day we had a shaman came to us and had a talk to him. We also were lucky to see how the fishermen pull out the nets from the ice-hole. The nets stayed for 3 days under water, thus Omul and Golomyanka were already in there. A short rest before we went to ride the dog-sled and snowmobiles. Two hours in the forest with the friendliest animals - Baikalskiye husky dogs. We rode snowmobiles while some of us were dog-sledding. Once they were tired - we changed. The guys were mostly the mushers and the ladies prefered to rule the snowmobiles.
Snowmobiling in the forest at Baikal
This was a long day and full of many activities. Dinner finished this day in a cafe of Baikalskaya skazka hotel, which has a wonderfulk view to the lake and multicolors of the sunset.

Ice-diving at Baikal
The next day was diving day. The Angara river is the only river which flows out of the lake. No matter how cold it is - the place where the river starts from the lake never freezes due to the fast current and small depth. Divers go to this place. It is possible to go to the edge of the ice and go under it if everything goes well. The water is really cold, this is a shocking factor for most of the divers who are used to diving in warm waters. A thermos with hot herbs tea and a warm coat after the dive. Banya is the greatest way of warming and refreshing the body once jumping in the ice-hole afterwards. The greatest banya is located in the nearest village Nikola, which is about 7 minutes to ride from Listvyanka. This wooden banya is quite spacious and stands on the very shore of Angara river. It gives the feature of Siberian character to everyone who tries it! After all, this trip was short in time but filled with much bright experience and feelings. I hope everyone will keep Baikal in his heart, its vastness, severeness, cleariness, kindness and majesty. 

Spending one night in a tent at Baikal ice


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