We left our hotel in Petropavlovsk at 9 AM for the drive to tent Camp 4. I slept well last night and felt somewhat refreshed in the morning. We left most of our clothing at the hotel and took only what we needed for two nights stay. I am hesitant about another tent camp due to the experience I had in tent Camp 2. The Kamaz picked us up at the hotel. There is another Kamaz that all of our food, tents etc.
We drove for four hours over some of the roughest terrain I had ever experienced. The Kamaz bounced up and down. The distance was not far but you could not do any speed with the non existence of any roads. We made some toilet stops wherever. The terrain reminds me of Iceland. Lots of patches of snow between volcanic lava rocks and black sand. Very barren with some large snow streaked volcanoes.
We finally arrived at our campsite. The staff set up our dining room tent while we roamed around. Then I saw it. From our campsite we are looking directly at a caldera with smoke coming out of the earth. I took a folding chair up to the end of the cliff, sat down, put my 100-400 lens on and waited for the smoke. Every time smoke appeared it created a different pattern and shape. From mushrooms to funnels I kept on clicking. I fell in love with the situation. Told Dmitry he needs to get me near the smoke. He smiled sat me.
Finally the Camp was set up. Lunch was served. Natalia cooked meat and chicken balls. I had the strips of salmon instead with some caviar. Caviar is always served and the Russian people will put it on anything. The salmon is so good. The same salmon the bears eat. Now I can understand why they love sockeye salmon. The salmon I ate was cured a little. The best I have ever had.
After lunch or about 3:30, the weather turned and fog rolled in and then some rain. Vladimir was going to take us to a waterfall to shoot late in the day. The location was about a thirty minute Kamaz ride over bumpy slopes and terrain. At about 6 PM we decided to drive to the waterfall since there was nothing to do at Camp and see if the fog lifts. By the way, each one of us has our own crawl in tent and one of the staff dug a hole in the ground, put a portable toilet over the hole and set up a small tent around the facility. No problem. I have used this type of facility in Mongolia for two weeks.
The drive to the waterfall might have been the most bumpy ride I have ever taken. We bounced around the Kamaz and had to hold on for dear life. We finally arrived at the waterfall and could not see a thing. The fog was on top of us but we heard the sound of the waterfall. Vladimir put up his drone and told us that we were at the edge of the fog and should wait until 8 PM. We decided to wait and just as we were ready to leave, the fog started to lift and we started to click away. As the fog was lifting we got some good images of the waterfall and the surrounding mountains and volcanoes.
After about one hour, we decided to leave since we did not want the driver to drive back in total darkness. Could be very dangerous. The ride back was also very bouncy. We finally arrived back in Camp in almost total darkness. Natalia had barbecued pork and beef steaks. A great meal.
Tomorrow we have a three mile hike up to the caldera. This is where the smoke was coming from. My back is hurting all the time and I am living on Motrin. I will not miss this hike. A total of six miles with some up hill. I need to take pictures of this living thing. We were told that we need to carry our cameras in a camera bag or backpack since many of the gases are acidic and they could hurt the camera and lens if totally exposed all the time.
We sat around a camp fire for a while and then each of us eventually crawled into our tents.
Pray for me tomorrow. I need to make it to the rim of this crater.