Going onto Nature

Not our car, but a Niva that had been stuck in deep mud

In Russian, there is no preposition for “outside” the way we use outside. When you go outside, in Russian you say I am going onto the street. Or if you were to ask the question, Are you outside?, you would ask, Are you on the street? Unless you are going hiking, or camping, or somewhere specifically to be in nature, in which case you are going “onto nature”.

That’s a long way to introduce our activity for today, but as a Russian would say, today we went on nature.

And it was wonderful.

Toward the end of this week, the cold relented and we’ve had a few days of wonderful Autumn weather. Sun shining and temperatures near the 60’s.

Our friend and guide, Kolya, suggested we take a trip to a place about two hours outside of the city in the neighboring Chelyabinsk region.

So my family piled into Kolya’s car, and friends Galina, Petya, Sasha, and Lera followed us in aother car as we headed southwest out of the city

The drive there was beautiful, much like the drive to Perm the other day. Forests of birch and birch mixed with pine. For whatever reason, the trees all grow to the exact same height as if someone had come through with a giant lawnmower and evened out the entire forest.

We also drove through a few small towns and groups of houses that could not even be called a town.

Wooden house in a small grouping of houses near the trailhead

How employment, trasportation (especially in Winter {snow and ice} and Spring {mud}), and the ins and outs of daily life in those small towns works is a mystery to me. But in any case, it was interesting to see.

Three story apartment building in the small town of Arakul
Starting the hike

Our hike “onto nature” started out on a dirt road through a birch forest and ended at a rock formation called Arakulskii Shihan.

The long thin rock formation looks like giant stone slabs have been stacked uo top of one another to form a wall. It seems to come out of nowhere.

Part of the rock formation as seen from below

A quick google search of “arakulskii shihan” yields several pages of links such as http://www.megaliths.org/browse/category/3/view/100 that are pretty convincing of alien involvement in the formation of the wall. Seriously, apparently there are no science based webpages about this formation.

It was pretty incredible–both the formation itself and the view it provided of the surrounding forests and lakes.

As we were exploring the formations, we passed a group of people cooking what I thought was soup in a big cast iron kettle over a fire. It smelled pretty good. I asked them about it and they told me it wasn’t soup, but plov, or pilaf, a traditional rice and meat dish origination in the central asian region.

They invited us to come back to their camp in about 40 minutes when they expected it to be done.

So we did. Salad made from tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and plov with rice, beef, and garlic. And it was all raised by them, even the beef, except for the rice.

All my kids ate it, and all my kids liked it.

Enjoying plov with good company

Once a Russian has invited you to “be their guest” for anything, they are very warm and generous. It was wonderful to sit and visit them and enjoy their meal.

Turned out to be one of the best days on our adventure (if not the best) so far.

Russian UAZ on the trail
Heading home
On the drive home, we stopped and filled up some water bottles from a spring covered by this little shed

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