Thursday, August 15, 2013

Petroglyphs, Buddhist Shrine, Shamanist holy site

After posting our blog entry last night, we continued on our course up
the lake, and stopped at Sagan-Zaba, to see some 4,000 year-old
petroglyphs. This was the first time the Baikal course (and our
captain, Sergei) had been able to find them. Surrounded by more modern
graffiti on the bare cliff-face were etchings of a deer and a man on a
horse. While 4,000 years is only a tiny fraction of the 25 million
years that Lake Baikal has been around, it was still quite impressive.
Before midnight we approached the Gates of Ol'khon (the narrow strait
between Ol'khon Island and the lake shore). We followed the tradition
of allowing the deck hand to smear engine grease on our faces while
passing through the gates for the first time, and also engaged in some
spectacular stargazing. We saw several shooting stars and even the
Milky Way!
This morning we awoke at our destination off of Ol'khon Island, and
started off for Ogoi Island, where we had breakfast, were reunited
briefly with the NSF team who were heading down the lake on their
expedition, and hiked up to a Buddhist shrine on top of the island. We
then visited Khuzhir, the biggest town on Ol'khon, where we had lunch,
did some souvenir shopping, and visited a museum about life on the
island. We then went swimming at a relatively warm beach next to
Shaman rock, a holy site for the Western Buryat people. The most
likely plan is that we will stop this evening at or near Cape Khoboi,
the northeast tip of Ol'khon, spend the night, and cross the lake in
the morning. Khuzhir is the last place we anticipate having internet
access for the next few days, until we return to the southern part of
the lake. Never fear, we are alive and well, and will post about our
continuing adventures when we return!
Gabi and Meg

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