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144 Across the Sikhote-Alin to the Sea The Maksimovich Pass. A Lump of Sugar. The Forest on the Eastern Slope of the Sikhote-Alin. Insects and Birds. The SikhoteAlin as a Climactic Border. The Valley of the Vay-Fudzin River and Its Tributaries. Goral. Glowing Insects. Birds along the Coast. Chinese Hospitality. Tazovskaya Mountain. The next day, June 16th, we left camp at five o’clock in the morning and immediately began ascending the Sikhote-Alin. The climb was slow and gradual. Our guide kept us on as straight a path as possible, but where it was very steep we ascended using switchbacks. The streams ebbed the higher we went and eventually disappeared completely.Thehollowsoundofbubblingwaterundertherockswasevidence that there was still plenty of flow in these headwaters, but gradually this noise too started to subside. We could hear narrow streams of groundwater, as if it were being poured out of a tea kettle. This later slowed to drops, and then vanished entirely. Anhourlaterwereachedthecrest.Thefinalpushwassteepbutbrief. At the pass itself, there was a small shrine made of bark situated under a large pine. The old man stopped in front of it, and bowed low to the ground. Then he rose, pointed to the east, and said only two words: “Vay-Fudzin River.” Thismeantwehadreachedthewatersheddivide.Theoldmansaton the ground, a sign to the rest of us that we were taking a break. 16 Across the Sikhote-Alin to the Sea 145 I used this time to walk south along the crest. I climbed one of the many rocky outcroppings jutting out of the earth and had a look around. Here the Sikhote-Alin was comprised of quartz porphyry, and the watershed divide stretched from the southwest to the northeast, parallel to the coast. The highest point here was about 1,100 meters above sea level. To the north, the Sikhote-Alin was not quite as tall. While its western slope was gentle, its eastern slope was considerably steeper. The entire ridge was covered with dense coniferous and mixed forest. The only bare spots were talus on the occasional peak. The ancient Chinese maps call this watershed the Sikhote-Alin, but the local Chinese call it the Sikhotalin or, more commonly, Laolin, which means “old pass” [as in “big and ancient”]. According to the hypsometer, the pass we were on was980metersabovesealevel.InameditinhonorofK.I.Maksimovich, one of the first explorers in the Ussuri Kray. Everything was covered in fog to the east as far as the eye could see. The peaks of adjacent mountains looked like disconnected islands. Waves of mist flung themselves at the mountain ridge, but once they passed though the saddle and reached the western slope they apparently disappeared,becausetheretheairwascleanandtransparent.According to the Chinese, this was a common phenomenon. I observed in many subsequent cases that the Sikhote-Alin acts as a climatic boundary between the coastal areas and the Ussuri River basin. I must have been gone a long time, because the detachment started to call for me. The Cossacks had warmed tea and awaited my return. Tea did not pass without amusement: when all the mugs had been filled, P. K. Rutkovsky said, “Ah! If only we had some sugar!” “Got some,” answered the Cossack Belonozhkin and, fumbling in his pocket, pulled out a dirt-blackened hunk of sugar. “Does that thing still pass for sugar, friend?” Rutkovsky asked. “On the Sikhote-Alin pass, it does!” answered the quick-thinking Cossack. Everyone laughed. Having rinsed our stomachs with a little warm water, we continued on. The descent from the ridge toward the Vay-Fudzin, as I said earlier, was steep. There was a deep gorge before us that was littered with rocks 146 The 1906 Expedition and wind-fallen trees. The force of the water cascading down had resultedinapitted ,unevensurfacethatwashiddenbyferncoverandquite dangerous to walk on. Granatman pushed at a boulder, and on its way downitinstigatedalandslide,takingmanyotherrockswithit.Descending ravines such as these can be very difficult, and it is especially hard on the horses. If our descent from the Sikhote-Alin were to be drawn on a map, it would look like narrow, meandering line heading east. This descent took about two hours. At the bottom of the ravine there was a stream, barely visible among the undergrowth. In it, the water flowed downthevalleywithcheerfulglee,asifrejoicinginitsfreedom,havingat last broken to the surface. In its lower reaches the river flow was calmer. Anequallydeepgorgejoinedoursfromtheright,andtheravinematured into a narrow valley that the local Manza call Sinkvandagou. After we crossed the ridge the mixed coniferous forest quickly transitioned intoadeciduousone.Mongolianoakgrewpredominantlyonslopeswith...


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