Fortunately, we survive the return flight with one of the antique flying cans and reach Jakutsk again in the bright sunshine and almost thirty degrees. Our good Lyoba was so sad when we left that we think that she would be happy about our return. And we were right, she welcomes us very warmly and even takes the rest of the week for us vacation.
She is still at work when we arrive, but her little son had received instructions and leaves us a little unsure and, in the hot weather, practically simply dressed in our underwear in the apartment.
After three weeks I can finally take a hearty shower there. We sort our things and relax until Lyuba appears in the evening with a couch surfer from Austria. Sascha only stays one night and hitchhikes from Yakutsk to Magadan, the easternmost city in Eurasia, which can be reached by road.
We enjoy the fresh fish that Constantine has given us raw and with onions and spices and share our stories. After a quiet day and a night of vodka and karaoke in Yakutsk, we don’t want to miss a special attraction in Yakutia: the Lena Pillars.
South of Yakutsk, gigantic sandstone columns rise up to the sky on the banks of the Lena, some up to two hundred meters. Lyoba is looking forward to the trip. Marcel is staying with friends and we rent a car for the trip.
In order to confirm Russian clichés again, it was extremely broken when we accepted it. The window cracked and the rear bumper shredded.
The road to the rocks is also very adventurous and consists mostly of gravel and mud. After all, we have a four-wheel drive car. Since the route is long, we are preparing for a night in the wilderness again.
On the way there is also a huge sand dune on the river, which we visit, of course. It looks bizarre to see a form of sandy desert in the middle of the boreal tundra and right on this gigantic stream.
We have to cross the river with a boat and find a man in a village who provides us with his small motor boat.
I haven’t seen a more powerful river in my life. The width extends over kilometers. The river looks like a huge lake, but it has a clear current. Many large islands form a labyrinth in which you have to know your way around to find the quickest route to the other bank. We climb the dune and can be amazed by the size of the stream from the height. The epic impact of the sight is further emphasized by the ominous dark clouds and twinkling flashes on the horizon.
It took us four hours by car, then we spent another three hours at the dune and had to drive another fifty kilometers through mud slopes to reach our actual destination. It is late and we set up the tent on a hill above a village called Tik Ani.
We have a wonderful view over the river and can see the Lena rocks in the distance. The campfire burns and we make noodles in the outdoor kitchen again. I unpack the guitar again and Uli and I have to get used to a phenomenon again: the dark night. The weeks north of the Arctic Circle had little visible impact on the brightness at night, but the return three weeks later in Yakutsk brought back the darkness, which will take over the whole day in a few months.
The coming day brings disillusionment. The bright, beautiful weather has given way to low-hanging clouds. We take our time with the game breakfast, but it doesn’t get any better. We drive into the village and Lyoba wonders until we find a fisherman again who will translate us to the other bank. The journey takes over half an hour, but we are breathless at the size of the pillars of the Lena. It is not just a few towers that spill out somewhere.
It is a bulwark, built by titans, that runs several kilometers along the river. We twist our necks to look up at the pillars that are slowly disappearing into the clouds. Yesterday’s thunderstorm didn’t dissolve, but hid behind the rocks here. Flashes of lightning and we reach a small hut of the national park administration before heavy rain sets in and a shower curtain is drawn all over the world.
The shower doesn’t last long and soon Uli and I are on the way to the top of one of the rocks. People think that we cannot let foreigners go alone, says Viachana, who accompanies us as a guide. The young woman, who speaks good English and started a summer job here, cannot tell us why every Jakute should instinctively know the way better. Neither does it get any better than having to stop and rest again and again as we literally rush her up. The agony at Sobopol paid off in good condition.
We reach the top and marvel at the view. Uli lets his drone rise, which works perfectly again here. The low hanging clouds give the rock towers a special form of grandeur. Veils of fog pass through the sandstone fortress.
We have a long return journey ahead of us and arrive in the late afternoon and collect Marcel. Uli and I don’t take a long break, then we go into town and meet two yakutas our age. The evening in a pub is very funny and even crazier when three Austrians join us, who were also in the wilderness around Batagay-Alyta. They flew by helicopter to a remote lake called Lybalakh and spent their time fishing there.
We knew about our companies beforehand and spoke on the phone. The mutual tips for contacts and equipment were very valuable, but now we meet for the first time and can exchange our respective adventures with some vodkas. At some point the shop closes, the Austrians say goodbye to sleep and we move a little further with the girls …
We end the last day very calmly, get some souvenirs and stroll through Yakutsk one last time. On a last evening with our dear Lyoba, vodka and karaoke, the trip ends very Russian and remains largely in good memory.
Who should guess how far-reaching the consequences of our trip would be? Lyoba and Uli will get married in April 2019.