solo traveler 3

Travel “This is Freedom”:How traveling in Siberia became my profession

In the summer, my dad and my godfather, who was also a tourist, took me on rafting, in caves or in the mountains. Such a Spartan vacation: you had to get up at eight in the morning, wash yourself with river water, if you were on duty by the fire, stir the oatmeal burning in an aluminum cauldron, set up your tent and properly pack your backpack so that it does not rub your shoulders, climb rocks and moss to the passes. For many children, all this was torment, but I really liked it, although it was hard. The most vivid impression of childhood is the cedars in the Western Sayan Mountains, their roots protruding from the ground and powerful branches, under which one could hide and gnaw nuts. And also the fresh smell of pine needles, the taste of raw, slightly salted grayling, cones baked in ash, resin and blueberries, which I ate in handfuls. And, of course, the mountains. Mom was puzzled that I was not interested in her lipstick, that I didn’t really like dresses and, in general, the “kid.” Now I understand that for a little me travel was such a strong personal experience that lipstick and dresses could not stand the competition.

Why I Travel Alone: A Solo Traveler's Manifesto

Every year I go to the mountains with loved ones. It’s like air. Our excursions are, of course, not the conquest of Everest, but also not the easiest type of travel. Twenty-one days of the road, one hundred and sixty kilometers along ridges, glaciers, larch taiga and desert, six passes of categories A and B, four chipmunks and not a single person – so last year the three of us went to Kodar and Chara sands in Transbaikalia (by the way, these are some of the most beautiful places in Siberia).

In addition to many cool things like clean air and water, waves and blueberries, mountains are also oatmeal for breakfast, mosquitoes, dwarf cedar branches in the face, hail beating on the cheeks, damp trekking, bear droppings and footprints on the trail. In return, you get a frightening silence and beauty that cannot be fit into a word, picture or sound. To make a photo diary, I took an Instax camera to Kodar. The first four days of the journey, I frantically filmed – I was nervous that what I see and feel did not fit on a 50 x 80 mm card. And then, crossing the river, I accidentally drowned my backpack and camera. It was liberating! Susan Sontag wrote about how I intuitively felt back in 1977 in her essay “A Look at Photography”: image, souvenir “. A person can trust their gaze and memory more. Maybe, but in the era of total photography and visuality it is not decided.

Wildlife is also an opportunity to see and feel yourself outside of social and gender roles. This is freedom. The mountains and the forest do not ask how much you weigh, do not estimate the size of your chest or hips. They absolutely do not care who you are: daughter, sister, wife, journalist, curator, tourist, after all. They will never ask what your plans for life are, and “are you going to give birth?” Nature accepts the body, choice and inner world of a person with all his injuries, fears, joy and hope.