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Valaam at first sight
russian version

Every summer my work colleagues visit Valaam. And every time after their return I hear of them positive feedback, and often even ecstatic. 9 years I have passed through myself other people's experiences, with gloomy feelings, saying lucky they are, going often on business trips in all sorts of interesting places, but I always stuck in the office and can not see anything. And now, in less than a decennary, the thirst for travel has taken precedence over the boredom and routine. Having the aim, I'm watching myself traveling to a new unknown...

All about everything - one evening, one day and one morning. But for a first impression this is the gift.
The journey began from adventure after a couple of hours from the start of the trip, and we missed the first and the last passage of boat to the island. But by resorting to various tricks, straining and helped by good people (nothing without it at all), we found ourselves on the boat, which immediately sailed in the direction of Valaam. I had sleepless night before that, so when I found myself on the seat, I instantly fell into deep sleep.
Bang! And an hour later I'm standing on the holy land. After a lean dinner - to the way. Bearing in mind many of my sad experiences, I decided not to make a fuss, and the first night was left to chance. Our boys (my colleagues), who came to Valaam for work, have leisurehours today, and they have long been familiar with the local terrain, so I'll go wherever they wish. So we stomped a couple of kilometers to the quiet lakeshore. Spent time chatting, sheltering from the persistent rain under the pines, taking the delicious oxygen. An hour or two have passed, I pulled out the pre-prepared map and asked them a little: what, where and how. And we together decided to take a walk to the skete of st. Nicolas the Wonder-Worker, that is located on one of the nearby islands.


Overcame uncomplicated way, we found ourselves in picturesque surroundings at the mercy of the evening light, he was caressing by its warm all that directed at him, stirring tale with the reality by a cool northern breeze.


And here I was blown away, only had time to tell the guys, "I'm leaving to take some pictures." I do not know how long I was walking. I remember that noted at the outset that it's still far to the sunset, but the sun is already near the horizon.


Guys had been blowing away to the hotel by cold wind quite time ago. And I put aside the camera and realized that I'm not in a hurry, because here it is, the long-awaited Valaam, I can touch. So, staying in the wild pacification, I spent my first "white night" near the main homestead of Monastery. Turned away from the trodden paths, wander along the shore, sat on the stumps, listening the twilight and seagulls' cries, watching the vegetation of the northern nature and the expanse of its relief. Unconditional beauty of Russian North in the height of summer is that twilight lasts from dusk to dawn.


Two days without sleep made an effect, tamed the fervor of tired body, at morning I snailed to bed and lost unconscious. Only had time to ask the guys to wake me up.
Bang! And now I'm back on my feet. Go to bike rental, after estimating the scale last evening I understand that with my backpack I wouldn't see much by foot. Agreeing on rent an iron horse for the next day, and - to a way. I will not describe all the details of my movements, except to say that the scale and the conditions were underestimated by me. That often happens: you look at the map - everything seems clear, simple and accessible, but when you find yourself on the locality - the realities are others. In short, I traveled and walked in that day only about 35% of the total area of the archipelago, which I previously had considered like a single island. I haven't used sattelite maps, only the paper map. Many roads that marked on it - does not exist, and some of others can not be reached even by bike. At the same time there are a few trails that you will not find on the map. To get to the shore you are interested in, often have to climb through thickets that do not want to be bothered, because the nature is basically untouched: you can drowning in a soil cover. Neither on the roads nor on the trails there are any signs, indicators or inscriptions, not all sketes of the archipelago hang their names - all this makes difficulties to determine your location, that seems obvious for the time being.


Striking that everywhere is very clean, it is especially noticeably after visit to our mainland of nature. Here is no waste, even where there is clearly populous. All in all, it's enough quite half a day to note that availability and amount of places for visiting by pilgrims and tourists are unpretentious regulated, I can only guess why -  intentionally or because the indigenous russian inadvertence. It is worth noting that even at "good" main roads of the archipelago there are difficulties for a cyclist with a heavy drag uphill, height changes sometimes are very impressive.
Thus I spent my first full day on Valaam: by foot and by bike, through the bushes and hills, collecting all nuances and details into my luggage. In the upshot I swapped 3 bikes: first simple one to the more sporty, that greatly facilitated my attempts with the pedals, and second one due to the broken bicycle chain to the more efficient. Because of this I watched the sunset paints not in the viewfinder of the camera, but on the way to the bike rental. Well I still managed to capture last sun touches by a miracle, when reached the place that planned during my afternoon walk.


Now can be not in a hurry indeed - no darken tonight, 3 hours of continuous twilight are guaranteed.


Cool! "White nights" act magically on me: sleepless time despite of everything. I slowly find a place for the "overnight", kindle a fire, land and lapse into Zen for the next few hours.


Pleasantly not to hurry, nothing to think, nothing to wish, staying awake in a dream. At such moments the sense of time disappears, it ceases to exist as if moving to another, parallel reality. Body, brain - all in somewhere there. Now there is only beauty.


I had already forgotten what it is like, so long to admire sunset's paints, which slowly mixed with dawn tone, bypassing the darkness. Around me - painting and lyricism: the air and smells, and sounds and silence - the atmosphere of a real Russian nature totally absorb by all the senses, leading to mental repose.


Evidently I flew away so far that barely came back to reality. Even to make a pictures there was not much desire. After such a flight over reality much ceases to be particularly significant, even that seemed important, interesting and fun. Capture the moments of actuality, which immediately becomes the past, and then stir it, dissecting memory - a bit of picnic. With this in mind I approached to the process of photography - quietly and even a little lazy.


I was much more interesting to observe the birth of a new day than to choose which of its fragments to capture in the camera's memory. However, I made some pictures in an entirely new way for myself: slo-owly and dra-awling without regaining consciousness.


It's funnily but I can not remember how it was. I only remember that I made use of ND filter on the lens at some instant to stretch time of photo exposure... or madness...
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