And so, when it’s time to find a place to sleep, I consciously avoid any place that looks too inviting.
And there are a number of them – small hand-built cabins, larger than the shelter in the field and less photogenic. They are reached by overgrown driveways and provide the barest of comforts. A raised platform here, a plastic table cloth there. Their doors hang lazily open and I’m surprised that their glass windows are still intact. I assume that their owners are either regularly there, or generally feared.
After multiple laps around one such owners’ property, I decide to camp way down the back, closer to the road than to the seductively appealing accommodation.
I erect my tent and set up my camp stove next to the long tree trunk which divides the clearing in two. Liquid fuel is a new concept for me, and, try as I might, I cannot get it into the vaporous form required by the burner.
My hands ache in the cold night air and, as Google fails to load, my hopes of a hot dinner fade rapidly.
Eventually, I concede defeat and pack everything away again, resorting to my backup dinner of vodka and three biscuits. I’m thankful for my huge lunch at Small Goloustnoye, but the toxic stench of kerosine is all over me and I only hope that it’s not some kind of freaky aphrodisiac for Siberian wild things.
I hang my more fragrant panniers in a tree, just in case. The darkness is disorientating, and I mark waypoints on my offline map, so that I can find them in the morning. I only hope that they’re far enough away from my tent, that mama and papa bear can’t connect the dots.
Wanna said that there would be snow soon, but I’m already feeling the cold. Rugging up in my thermals and two pairs of socks, I unpack my sleeping bag and deploy my orange Thermolite liner. It all looks very cosy, and, as a bonus, my tent is not on a lean.
If bears don’t eat me tonight, I will gorge myself in the safety of morning, then try to make it to Olkhon Island, or at least Bugul’deyka, on the coast.