My first adventure out of Gorno was a trip Lake Teletskoye, a popular tourist destination in the Altai. We left Saturday morning at 8 and arrived three hours later after picking up a visiting German teacher and his girlfriend at the university. We all stayed at the university camp in a small house which I can only assume is kept for the teachers when they take students to the lake. After the arrival of Natalia's (our host) father and family, all of us walked down to the lake for a boat tour. The long, deep-rift lake with strong, sharp edges of snow-topped mountains draws a large number of visitors in the summer. This past weekend we shared it with maybe two other boats. Spectacular!
Eleven people in a rather small boat looked quite comical, but the weight did not seem to slow us down. We arrived at a rocky shore within the half-hour. There was a trail leading up into the woods. It was not scenic in the way Adirondack trails often are. This trail was a continuing chain of what looked something like big lean-tos filled with food and keepsakes for sale. A short trail led to a waterfall. It was small and dainty compared to the grand waterfalls in Yosemite or Niagara Falls, but it was still beautiful, making a splendid rumble that could be heard from the shore of the lake and emitting a rather chilly mist. On the way back in the boat, the rain turned to a downpour. So we did not make our last stop but headed back to the small dock adjacent to the camp. Thankfully the rain downgraded to a sprinkle as we walked back.
After eating a very large supper of shashleek (famous Russian shishkabob), ekra (caviar), smoked and salted fish and assorted vegetables, the four people under the age of 18 went back to the house where, in the absence of shared language, a long and enthusiastic pillow fight took place. This pillow fight soon morphed into "one person turn off the light, everyone else hide and wait for the one person to scare everyone." That game then degenerated into "turn off the lights, jump from bed to bed screaming and try not to crack our heads open." Then to end the night on a calmer note, a game of 'repeat after me' in which the boys would say something in Russian and have the girls repeat it and vice-versa. Every episode of this game ended up with fits of laughter on one side or the other. By the end of the evening we didn't even realize that we spoke different languages.
I rounded off the weekend with a dip in this cold mountain-fed lake and shivered during the ride home and for the rest of the day.