Monday, 14 June 2010

Wild flowers in the hills

We went for a walk up in the hills this weekend. It was the first proper walk we have done since the back operation and the baby was born. And in fact, thinking about it, it is possibly the first hike I have done since about October last year which is kind of shocking. But then in November it was all about skiing, and January until now has been a medical write off.  So, anyway, it had been a long time and I can hardly express how happy I was to be back among the hills. This great sense of wellbeing was only enhanced by enjoying it in the company of my lovely family. The older kids were delighted to be going hiking - as soon as they had finished their breakfasts they sped upstairs to get on their kit, filled up their back packs with their jumpers and camelpack water carriers, cameras were given new batteries and before we knew it, they were lounging about waiting for us on the sofa - how often does that happen? We were moving quite slowly after trying valiantly to stay up until 3am to watch England play in the world cup. Net result of this effort was me asleep on the sofa with a sore neck and husband unconscious upstairs in the wrong bed having broken his six-week beer break with four beers that resulted in him feeling rancid for the duration of the hike. So we were both moving quite slowly to get out the door, and were in fact pretty happy with ourselves for leaving at 10.08 instead of the previously planned 8.30am.

One of the most amazing things about the mountains is not just their awe inspiring large-and-rocky-ness, but the tiny details that you notice when you are walking on them. These details are things that you never see if you are bumping over them in a 4WD truck. It is only when you are plodding along, looking at your feet because the going is tricky, that you see a lot of the floral treasures that abound here, such as the purple flower above.

I am not a botanist, and I have not yet found my wild flower book in Russian which I purchased at the last hiking pot luck lunch, so I cannot identify any of them yet. If truth be told, I will most likely not look them up until asked to do so!

Check out this one on the right! It looks like a "Space Cow Pat", then you think it might be a lichen, and in fact, it is quite fleshy, like a kind of non-prickly cactussy thing - weird. There are lots of them.

If I was a plant up there, I would probably adopt the 'space cow pat' look myself - stay low, get out of the wind, hunker down and just survive, but try to look a bit funky. It is blimming parky up there even now in late June. We left town and it was a comfortable 27 degrees outside. By the time we parked, the temperature had dropped, according to our in-car thermometer, to just 12 degrees. And with wind chill and more cloud, it can only have been about 8 or 9 degrees, much lower at night.

In one walk, we saw purple, red, yellow, white, black, pale blue (the only ones I knew the name of I think, possibly forget-me-nots but couldn't tell you their real name), orange, pink, violet and creamy-coloured flowers in absolute abundance. We heard an eagle or a kite calling in the wind, and we marvelled at the misty mountain sides and huge piles of dirty snow that had still not melted. We walked as far as the 3100 m marker, had a picnic and then turned back to the car. It was a brilliant day. The toddler walked all the way up with a little encouragement, the baby behaved herself and the other kids (we had a friend of the oldest in tow) all mooched along very happily, chatting and making up great chants to keep themselves going:

Left! Left! I have no clean pants left!
Right! Right! My pants are rather tight!

Here are some more non-botanist flower photos.



And here are some more photos from that walk: 
First one, driving down the road again. Behind the row of pine trees is Chimbulak ski resort

Up near the dam (to prevent mud slides and avalanches picking up speed and hitting the city, apparently) some satisfyingly soviet graffiti - but very new...

The classic advert for a mountain car rescue service is the next one. If your 4WD has a puncture and you don't know how to fix it, do not fear, for a convertible full of scantily-clad prostitutes will come and change the tyre for you. Not, as you may expect, a stubbly-faced, cigarette-smoking, grumpy bastard who will take hours to arrive and charge you hundreds of dollars for the privilege!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Big Beluga Baby, I'm Sue Hill's sister and she has recommended I follow your blogs so I will. Love what I've read so far...

    I write one too if you want to check it out at

    Take care, Jill x