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April 03, 2005

Sakhalin: Feet Don't Fail Me Now!

I caught a bit of Sergeant Bilko the night before we "climbed" the "mountain" and I was singing the song "Feet Don't Fail Me Now!" the entire day. I've been waking up lately with the most random music in my head: yesterday was "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" by Rolf Harris... why? Why? Make it stop!

I'd been itching to do some hiking in the mountains around Yuzhno since I got here, and spending weeks sitting at a desk 9.00 - 18.00, 6 days a week was making me crave fresh air. We decided to walk up a hill on the outskirts of the city with a ski slope running down it. "Walk" and "hill" sounded a bit namby, so we upgraded it to an "expedition" up the "mountain."

Lorraine, Mark and a very hungover and sleep-deprived but nevertheless perky Paul met up in my room, and we traipsed through the slushy town, past the Dynamo, and took the cross-country route up the mountain. The snow was so deep that we were falling in it constantly, and once you were down, it was really hard to get back up. I don't know what it was, but I thought it was the funniest thing ever and was rolling around laughing. It was a beautiful sunny day and when we came out of the woods and followed the road along to the skiing hut, the view was superb. We watched the skiers for a while and gazed at the rickety old ski jump. I've seen photos of it during its glory days when Olympic athletes used to train on Sakhalin and it was quite a sight to behold, but since Perestroika, it's become rather run-down.

We struggled up the rest of the hill, and it took ages as we were sinking into snow holes every few minutes and it was a real effort to push your way through. We reached the top of a ski slope and made a unanimous decision to try to get down rather than go back the way we'd come, which would take forever. The snow was really deep and floofy, and there were no skiers, only the occasional snowboarder whizzing past. I slid down most of the slope sitting down, or rolling, just letting gravity take me to the bottom, and I was soaked by the end, but still laughing hysterically. We tramped down the rest of the way and through Gagarin Park, where we had lunch at a small wooden restaurant. When we left, it was beginning to snow again...

Posted by Rowena on April 3, 2005 05:39 AM
Category: Russia
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