Day 20, The bay

Waves ripple within the sandy bay.
The bay was deserted.
Day 20 of 298
Distance ridden (today)20 km
Trip progress7%

Off-road wayfinding on Olkhon’s east side leads to more great vistas and a noisy night in an epic bay.

In the morning, the horses are gone and the wind is up. It’s cold.

The horrible hill still looms in front of me and time is ticking away on my 30 day Russian visa. I want to see the east side of the island too, so I decide that I’m not going to venture any further north.

What comes down must go up, and it’s a tough ride up from the coast.

I ride up and over the scenic but exposed hilltops, heading to the far side of the island.

As I descend towards the opposing coastline I notice a crag ahead. The steep track disappears up a rocky path and I have to dismount and walk the last few metres.

And wow.

Another awesome view with more awesome vibes. You’d think I’d be immune to these by now, but Olkhon just keeps on surprising me. I find a sheltered spot out of the cold wind and sit down to bask in the sun’s warm rays.

A view this awesome requires an especially awesome snack, and my current snack of choice is Nutella.

A sweetened spread of cocoa and hazelnuts, each Russian train teaspoon-full generates the salivary equivalent of an epic day. I never liked Nutella back in New Zealand, but context is everything and when I told the hostel owner in Irkutsk that I needed peanut butter for energy, she said that no-one sold that here, but she would eat Nutella.

The only downside with my now daily addiction is that it freezes easily and requires body heat to remain enjoyable.

Yes, that is a jar of Nutella, and yes, I am pleased to see you.

Far below the engaging rock, the waves crash onto a sandy beach in a perfect cove.

A grassed area stands watch, just out of reach of the clawing tide. Now that’s a campsite!

But the track doesn’t seem to want to co-operate and I spend a long time riding back and forth across the fields looking for a way down.

On one level, it’s frustrating. But I have to admit that I like a challenge. And I get even more frustrated when someone tells me that the challenge is not worth the effort, that I should just take a shortcut or compromise on the result. But I’m an idealist and a dreamer. Compromise does not come easily to me, and this is a big part of the reason why I am travelling solo.

However, eventually, I do concede defeat. The unmarked paddocks are almost devoid of landmarks, but I leave my bike by a clump of bushes and proceed on foot.

Eventually I find a workable path and return to the bush, for the bike. On the way down I pass a man and a woman driving out. We exchange waves and their reciprocity makes my day. It’s the little things.

The access is gnarly and the exit is going to be a nightmare. But that’s a problem for another day. Today, we enjoy the bay.

The bay is deserted, but exploring my natural neighbourhood quickly reveals small signs of life.

A plastic doll with a pink cap, an old campfire, a pile of charred wood, and a collapsed wooden DIY experiment. The twisted metal cables are here too, their frayed ends telling tales of the ones that got away.

After carefully picking a spot, the spot, I erect my bright orange tent beneath the rocky knob, and collapse onto my squishy bed.

A few metres away, noisy waves crash impatiently onto the shore. I’m reminded of the week I spent staying on the coast of Samoa. My small stilted fale was all a burned-out web developer needed, but the open walls brought all the sounds of nature into my room. The ever-present roar of the surf reef tainted many lazy naps in there.

The wind chimes in, intermittently rustling my tent’s fly. Somehow its sporadic spasms are more soothing to my ears. Perhaps I am becoming sentimental for home.

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