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Our Barguzin summer

On July 11th, our hardworking volunteers completed the two-week GBT project “Pillars of Davsha”. The project took place in Barguzinsky Reserve, the oldest federal reserve in Russia, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding this year.

The project was overseen by Natalia Ivanova, one of our most experienced crew leaders, and included volunteers with such rare and beautiful names as Vanessa, Anita, and Magdalena. Such a project simply had to be a success! Our 14 crew members formed an eclectic group, with volunteers representing cities all over Russia (Irkutsk, Yakutsk, Perm, Podolsk, and Kemerovo) and various other countries (the United States, Germany, and Korea). The group had an excellent time in Davsha, a small settlement that serves as a field base for the Reserve, working hard and relaxing beautifully.

Our crew set up camp in a comfy little spot in a field of dandelions. During the day, they built the trail along the picturesque, craggy mountainside, a half hour hike from the campsite (the construction of the “Pillars of Dasha” ecological trail began last year with a different group of GBT volunteers). In the evening, they relaxed in the local hot springs, warmed themselves by the campfire with mugs of hot tea (Davsha is the coldest place on Lake Baikal and at the beginning of July, spring had only just ended), tickled their palettes with Korean cuisine (thanks to Lee and Byun for somehow fitting the untold treasures of their culture into their impossible backpacks!), shared stories, and listened to the conversations of the birds and beasts of the Taiga.

The project was so far from civilization and so wild, that in the mornings, walking along the trail to work, it was common to unceremoniously encounter the fresh leavings of brown bears or moose, who may have just gone down the trail a little earlier. The group’s joy was limitless.

The lake also did not fail to enchant. It is impossible to tire of Baikal. Every day it was different: one day milky-white with fog, another day a clear, bright turquoise; It could be stormy and dark, with enormous waves, or a calm, peaceful blue, gently rippling with the wind.

It was impossible not to marvel, too, at our volunteers, to whom obstacles were like nothing: they were ready to work in the sweltering heat, the unceasingly drizzling rain, and even when attacked by eternally hungry local mosquitoes and flies. They applied this unique enthusiasm both to clearing the trail and to its construction.

All in all, our volunteer team cleared 1200 meters of trail, built 803 meters of a new stretch of trail, and installed 12 durable stone steps – a great result!

An enormous thank you to the federal agency “Zapovednoe Podlemorye” for the opportunity to do this wonderful project! A separate, but no less deserved thank you to Natalia Luzhkova, Irina, and Vera for their help with the organization of the project, lectures on the essentials of an ecological trail, the flora and fauna of the reserve, historical anecdotes, and mostly importantly for receiving us with open arms! We hope to come back again soon!