Monday, October 24, 2011
Kamchatka: Obryvisty Creek - after crossing the divide from the Shumny Creek
In the evening of September 10 the valley of the upper Shumny Creek (900 m above the sea level) was looking just lovely. We had set a camp and were planning to cross the divide tomorrow.
Next morning the same valley was looking gloomy, covered by fresh snow.
Sally-bloom (fireweed) in the snow
For some time we were able to move up along the old ATV "road", but then it had turned wrong direction. We had to crawl through dwarf alder and at higher altitudes - through pine-bush.
At the divide it was a true winter. Yury (left), Pavel & I had celebrated the summit by a homoeopathic dose of excellent Armenian brandy, and went down, into the Obryvisty Creek. It took about 6 hours of bushwhacking in the snow to cross the divide, and some slopes were steep. I was hiking in waders and neoprene booties with felt soles. I did not expect snow, or I would had taken different boots along. On the other hand, the waders were working fine - one does not get wet in melting snow. Resume: it is not a big deal to cross snowy mountains in fishing gear, but do not do it on felt!
It was a big relief to come back into fall after winter at 1200 meters of the divide. Solomon's Seal berries (Polygonátum) in the creek.
The most beautiful type of vegetation I know - dwarf bushes of dry mountain tundra.
Yury and Pavel are hiking down the left source of the Obryvisty Creek. In the water, on slippery rocks my felt soles work much better comparing with regular tourist shoes or rubber boots.
At the altitude of 750 m the creek is starting to look fishy
Further down, at 700 m, it is becoming a good trout water. Nevertheless, Kamchatka rainbow trout is never found in such creeks - they are occupied by numerous charrs. Normally such creeks host immature parr of anadromous Dolly Varden charr and its dwarf males.
I was surprised to catch one ripe female, almost ready to spawn. On the same day we were able to observe some tiny charrs spawning in the creek. This is rather unusual - normally ALL females from such creeks become sea-run before maturation.
At the altitude of 660 m we had found a 8 m waterfall! This is why the fish above it had to become resident. I had observed such situations in the other areas of the Far East - at the Kunashir (Kuriles) and at Sakhalin Island.
Below the waterfall in the Obryvisty Creek there is a typical stock of Dolly Varden charr - with dwarf males (below) and big females coming from the sea. Big sea-run males were also present. These 35-45 cm fish are coming up through Kamchatka & Kirganik Rivers from the Bering Sea (about 500 km).
The last evening at the creek - tomorrow we plan to reach the road where our truck should be waiting.