We fixed upon the Bayanaul Moiuntains situated 350 kilometers of Karaganda and representing a place that had not been spoilt by mass tourism yet, in contrast to Karkaralinsk or Borovoye. Sanya and I went there to scout during the holidays in the middle of December. Having thought soundly, we decided to visit first of all the rest home located next to lake Sabyndykol , and only then investigate the lakesides of Zhasybay. As the events showed, we were right to do this, for it turned out later that all the rest homes at lake Zhasybay are closed in winter. On leaving our stuff in the room, we went for a stroll in the vicinity to search for a suitable place for celebration. The next day we were sure about the place to celebrate the dawning of the year 2006 and came back to Karaganda.
In two weeks, despite all forecasts of the weathermen warning of strong snowstorms and sudden temperature pulldown, a company of ten people was getting out of the bus that had stopped 15 kilometers before Bayanaul, opposite to the direction sign ‘Fakel’ (Torch).
Closer to the night, after the festive supper in the canteen of the rest home, our company set off for the nearest mountains instead of going to the new year disco. In forty minutes we were already laying our festive table in a small crevice at the very top of the mountain. Candles, fireworks, presents, tangerines, champagne…This New Year was somewhat typical, and there was only one big difference: this all was taking place in the pinery in 25 degrees centigrade of frost. Conifers were real, and this could remind return to the past, the distant past when some Germanic tribes did not take the fur-trees to home but organized festive rites in the forest around the live tree.
The first of January of the year 2006 began fantastically early, some time about ten in the morning. I cannot recall that this happened formerly, moreover, I think that very few people can give a varied report on what they were doing before five or six in the evening on the first day of a year.
We (more precisely, three of us who had not been unsettled by the night’s outing in the mountains, and who had not been frightened by the frost that grew stronger) took a dog called Norda and moved northward from the rest home. Somewhere in these places over 300 years ago a brave warrior Zhasybay stood his ground to the death, understanding his desperate plight and desiring to give his life for as more expensive price as possible and to kill as many hostile Jungars by his arrows as the fate would let him.
Our little hike left only pleasant impressions. Take, for example, our dinner in the frost, when we had to melt the beer frozen in the bottle necks over the bonfire, where small sausages were sizzling appetizingly in it. And the view of the ice-covered lake from the Zhasybay pass and the sun seeping through symmetrical rows of pines, repaid with interest the discomfort caused by continuing deduction of temperature.
We returned to the rest home when it began to grow dark. Norda spent all the evening lying motionless and did not even take the trouble to eat.
The road back home is always shorter than that from home. This almost irrefutable rule was given a thorough rating to by us, though not due to our own free will but due to natural cataclysms. Leaving the rest home at about midday we planned to reach the highway Pavlodar – Karaganda and catch the bus that was going to our mother city. However, when we finally reached the highway and walked along it for about half an hour towards Bayanaul, our belief that the bus would come began to descend slowly.
The frost was getting more severe, but the bus would not appear. What was interesting is that almost no transport could be seen passing the road in either direction. But the most important is the fire inside your sole, and if it is burning, then the frost outside can not stop you by any price. Perhaps, we had more than enough fire. I still keep wondering that no one caught cold after this four hours’ hike in thirty-five degrees centigrade below zero. Moreover, everyone saved the most pleasant remembrances of this route. And in a week most of our company began asking me whether we would go anywhere again.
At last, we reached Bayanaul. The bus station was shut close, and in a neighboring cafe where we settled ourselves to get warm and eat, we were told, that the bus Pavlodar-Karaganda we wanted to get to, had frozen on its way. The same fate befell upon the bus from Karaganda moving in the opposite direction, as well as other numerous transports on the highway.
We got to Karaganda by a mini-bus whose owner agreed to drive us home despite the bad weather for a reasonable sum of money. Somebody was sitting on the seats, the others (including me) were lying on the backpacks in the rear end of the car. Norda was keeping company to those lying, and it was so nice to heat the legs on her. We reached Karaganda almost without adventures, not mentioning a small breakage on the way, when the dwellers of a village helped us to repair the car and treated baursaks to us.
The most popular song of that day, which has been called the hymn of Avalon since then, was the song of Bremen musicians that was repeated a lot of times on our way. Indeed, ‘nothing on earth can be better than wandering around the world with your friends’.