This season started very late for me, because in May we decided to visit India for some serious yoga (even we hate yoga and never was going to go it).
A twenty-one day Hatha Yoga program turned out to be more intense than we expected: eight to nine hours of physical practice a day, getting up at 4:30 am every morning. I definately never trained so hard in my whole life, but we are very glad we went for it, as now I can feel completely different strengh in my body and spine, also all back pains are gone, we can sleep on hard floor now and feel perfectly comfortable. It was so refreshing for the mind to live completely different for a month, change atmosphere, people, focus in life. Of course no internet or any contact to outside world. It feels like we touched some magic there, we never thought existed.
Meeting a Sadhguru for the first time, kayaking seems a bit lame ;)
We volunteered in local school talking about kayaking, showing some photo/video and telling kids about our lifes and our sport. They seem to enjoy it and now waiting till we come with kayaks and teach them how to roll.
After India we went to Russia for the Russian Championships, to Tivdia (500 km North of Saint-Petersburg). This year the title was 'Eurasian Championship', it was good to see how our competitions grow with every year and attract more international paddlers. The wave was very decent and retentive even it wasn't the best level. I finally had a chance to try my new carbon Guigui for first time and enjoy wave kayaking after six month break. Made the podium and won a little prize money.
Eurasian championships - prize money and champagne!
Our next destination was the Altay mountains, this is the place where I got to know whitewater, kayaking and freestyle, my motherland. It's an incredibly beautiful region, still very wild, but more and more accessible with new airport working and new roads being build every year.
I hadn't kayaked here for a while, particulary in a playboat. I was very excited to see what we can do on this Katun's (river) waves with carbon boats, upgrated skills and Pringles coaching. Some of this features never saw high scoring moves before! We ran a freestyle clinic for Russian riders, which went great – we were very lucky to get high water and different range of waves and holes working. I was delighted to realise some of this features are world class and allow you to do and learn all the big moves. In the next blog I am going to tell in detail about best freestyle places of lower Katun' river.
On top of Mazherok village – prime freestyle destination on the lower Katun
My favourite wave, works even better in high water
Throwing a panam on Dollar Wave
We also went to middle strech of Katun, which became very accesible in the last few years because of the new road, built to lead to Putin's (Russian president) summer house, which are just on the bank of the Katun'. Beautiful big volume rapids, safe, soft but very impressive, perfect for freestyle boats, takes about three to four hours. There are a few waves you can play and nice scenary to look at. This time we also had some very intense experience with the flies – it must have been breeding time or some sort - clouds of flies was blown up the river right into our faces. I never saw anything like it, even I've done this strech million times. We had to go to rapids with our eyes closed, nose clip on and mouths tightly closed :)
One of our students in a whirlpool on the middle Katun'. Photo Alexander Mitenev.
Katun' is a pretty long river, you can have ten day's trip down some whitewater surrounded by mountains and pristine nature. It's great for rafting and I always knew it's great for freestyle, but only now I can see the full potential.
We also went highking to some very nice places, like Karakol lakes. The closest place to our freestyle base, where you can get a taste of real mountains with just a few hours walk. We camped under a cedar tree knowing: there are only us two in the entire valley.
Just like a little hobbits on the way to the misty mountains. Photo Denis Uzikov
The second of the seven Karakol lakes
What I like the most about my home county is this freedom, vast unspoiled lands, dogs, cats, cows run free, if you've had enough of people there are lots of places to go. Pringle said: "It's such a good region, why did you ever leave? " Only if summer here would never end, but it is winter that made me start to travel.
Bad weather coming and staying with us for the night
We ate as many wild stawberries as we could