Kondinskie Lakes – Days 5 and 6

Leaving Mukhrino field station, we had a ride in the argocat for the 10km route back to the road (a very impressive machine which made light work of crossing streams and which was a lot faster than walking!)

A ride through Ryam in the argocat

We met Yaroslav in his car by the road and started our journey to Kondinskie lakes nature park to the west of K-M. The journey of 400km was uninterrupted by towns or villages, and after good quality road for the first couple of hundred km, it changed to concrete and then sand which made for a bumpy ride! The forests en route are vast, with flood plains and raised bogs occasionally in sight. But mostly A LOT of trees… We stopped a couple of times to collect some pines by the road side, and noticed smoke in the distance several times which shows how close the forest fires can be. There was quite a lot of evidence in various forests of fire, with blackened trunks and a lack of younger generations, but to see it comparatively close is sobering, and a reminder of how little can be done to prevent them.

Arriving at the Kondinskie field station we dropped off our bags in an impressive log-cabin (with space for 40-50 people) and headed straight out to collect samples from a lichen forest and a green moss forest. The lichen forest was eerily beautiful, with a carpet of pale green lichen which was crunchy underfoot. We realised also how easy it is to get disorientated in these forests, although we made it back to the car with the help of a GPS, a beeping horn and some logic!

Lichen carpets the sandy forest floor, with only cow berries and Scots pine also able to grow in these nutrient poor conditions.

The green moss forest was very impressive with enormous straight-trunked trees (see photo) looming over us as we collected cambium.

Scots Pine growing tall and straight in green moss forest in the Kondinskie lakes park

We stopped near one of the lakes and walked out to take a look, and went for an impromptu swim. It was very refreshing after a hot day in the car and collecting samples, although at a maximum of 1m deep was quite an odd experience! The field station has a big banya (and they are building another) and we all got a chance to get clean before having a late dinner.

The following day we did a quick collection in ryam near the field station, and then went for a walk to a river nearby. We walked across boardwalks through the ryam and then crossed ‘islands’ of forest to reach the river. There is a religious site nearby and the area is very peaceful and beautiful, with the meandering river linking two of the lakes.

The river Akh runs between two of the lakes in Kondinskie park

We ate delicious cowberries and blueberries on our way back which are found in abundance all over the ryam. After lunch we set off to Khanty-Mansiysk, where we arrived in the evening back to Wifi and phone signal!

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