12 The Route across the Mountains to the Village of Koksharovka
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99 The Route across the Mountains to the Village of Koksharovka The Ussuri Taiga. Recording Observations in the Forest. Lost. The Understory. Means of Protection from Mosquitoes and Black Flies. The Village of Koksharovka. The Chinese Settlement of Notokhouz. The Ulakhe River. Sweltering Heat. I rushed to the window at daybreak the following morning (May 31st). The rain had stopped but the weather remained gloomy and damp, and fog shrouded the mountains like a veil. Through it, I could just make out the valley, the forest, and structures of some kind on the river bank. If we were to head out that morning, we would have to move slowly, stopping often to orient ourselves before going further. But we were forced to linger in town anyway because the bread we had ordered had not yet finished baking. All the roosters started to crow at about eight o’clock. “The weather’s clearing and fair weather’s ahead,” the Cossacks said to one another. “Look how the roosters crow—it’s a reliable sign.” True, domestic chickens are particularly susceptible to weather changes, but they are often incorrect. The sky might clear just a little and the roosters all crow at once. But this time they were not mistaken. The fogsoonlifted,blueskypeekedthrough,andafterthatthesuncameout. At ten o’clock in the morning our team, with Panachev in the lead, left the village and started up the Vangou River. Our goal was to cross 12 100 The 1906 Expedition the ridge separating the Daubikhe and Ulakhe drainages, and follow an unnamed river to reach the mouth of the Fudzin River. The road turned into a trail as soon as we left the village, and this led to Panachev’s apiary. “Some of you come with me,” the Old Believer said, turning to the Cossacks.Hethenclimbedoverthefence,openedthebarrelholdingthe hive, and began to hand the Cossacks chunks of honeycomb. The bees hovered around him, sat on his shoulders, and burrowed into his beard. Panachev talked to the bees, using affectionate names, and picked them out of his beard, giving them their freedom. He returned a few minutes later, and we continued on. The weather gradually cleared. The fog dissipated, water ran along the ground in thin streams, drenched flowers raised their pedals skyward , and moths flashed by in the air. We bushwhacked with Panachev guiding us, following a series of blazes he had cut sometime in the past. As soon as we entered the forest we had to use our axes to cut a trail. Thereaderwouldbemistakenif he imagined theforest here asa tidy grove of trees. The Ussuri taiga is a pristine and primeval forest, comprised of Korean pine, black birch, Amur fir, elm, Maximovich’s poplar, Siberian spruce, Manchurian linden, Daurian larch, Manchurian ash, Mongolianoak,andJapaneseangelicatree.Therearemanyotherspecies as well, such as the Amur cork tree, which when fully leafed resembles the ash, but has beautiful bark that is velvety to the touch, and the Manchurianwalnut ,whichhaslargeleavesattheendsofitsbranches,looking almost like little palms. The undergrowth consisted of dense shrubs, including eleuthero, red currant (with pointed leaves), Manchurian viburnum (with white flowers),yellowhoneysuckle(withgnarledbranchesandwrinkledbark), Ussuri spirea (with short, sharp, and serrated leaves), and Persian nightshade (which creeps up tree trunks). There are also jumbles of Amur grape, Chinese magnolia vine, and Kolomikta vine. Sometimes these can be as thick as a human arm. Panachev stated that, if traveling light, he could make it to Koksharovka from Zagornaya in a day. True, he considered “a day” to be from dawn until dusk, and as we traveled quite slowly with our packs, we The Route across the Mountains 101 estimated that we’d make the trip in two days with only one overnight in the forest. We took a long break around noon and immediately stripped down to pull ticks off each other’s bodies. Panachev had it bad; he was constantly scratching at himself, and had ticks massing in his beard and on his neck. When the Cossacks had removed all their own ticks, they began to pull them off the dogs as well. These smart animals knew exactly what was happening and patiently endured the procedure. Not so with the horses, which bucked and fought. We ended up exerting tremendous effort to free them from the parasites buried in their lips and eyelids. After tea Panachev went ahead again, followed by the riflemen with their axes. Then, fifteen minutes later, the pack train followed. “Looks like it’s going to rain again,” said Murzin. “But it won’t rain long...



Subject Headings

  • Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China) -- Description and travel.
  • Natural history -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
  • Dersu Uzala.
  • Arsenʹev, V. K. (Vladimir Klavdievich), 1872-1930 -- Travel -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
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