FROM 22 July to 4 August 2020 of the year
The Samara Inclusive Resource Center, together with the Great Baikal Trail volunteer project with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund, conducted its first inclusive environmental and educational expedition to Lake Baikal ... If only you knew, how many amazing emotions and memories are hidden behind these informative, but dry lines! Yes, earlier IRC already organized tourist trips in the Samara region - and they were also inclusive, and environmental education, but it was on Baikal that the meaning of these terms was fully revealed.
Let's start, perhaps, with inclusiveness. The expedition to Baikal was attended by 26 people from different parts of Russia. The bulk of the group was, of course, from Samara, but guys from Irkutsk joined them, Penza, Surgut, Nizhny Tagil and other cities (it's a bit strange to call all the participants guys, because among them were like those, who does not and 20 years old, so those, who is already over 50, but during the entire expedition, this difference was almost not felt, so let there be "guys"). Moreover, many of them – with various forms of disability. But they weren't sitting by the lake at all, admiring the natural beauty. No, they worked on a par with everyone (and some – even more than the rest). And there was a lot of work ...
The main task of the expedition was the construction of the next section of the Great Baikal Trail – hiking trail, which in time should pass around the entire Baikal. At this point, the length of the already built trail is about 500 of 2000 km - this is the length of the lake's coastline. Against this background, those 300 meters, which were laid by the members of our expedition, may seem like a drop in the ocean, but it does not mean, that the work was done carelessly. On the contrary, the guys had to make every effort, to make your way through dense thickets of bushes and real swamps.
Here it was not enough just to clear the path of vegetation and remove the sod layer., as in the mountains. Here, the "troop-builders" now and then had to build gati - special wooden flooring, which allow you to overcome swampy areas. All this was done for the sake of, so that future tourists can overcome this path in a matter of minutes, without spending much effort on it, and our team did an excellent job with this task!
Almost all members of the expedition visited the construction of the trail: Brigadier of the "Great Baikal Trail" Roman wanted to let everyone contribute to this ambitious project, and at the same time evaluate the performance of all the guys. As a result, he was in for a few pleasant surprises. (although he himself, probably, never confessed, that I expected something different). The main surprise was, perhaps, Yuri: despite already far from young age and then, that one leg is completely replaced by a prosthesis, for two weeks he was a real example of hard work for others. Move heavy logs to the work site alone? No problem! Dig a hole under the support for the ghat? Easy! Chop through a thick root with an outlandish tool called Pulaski? A couple of hits is enough!
There was no such work task, which Yura could not cope with, and he still had enough energy, to go swimming in Baikal every morning and every evening. In his free time, Yura entertained his comrades with stories about his hikes., taught how to search and brew a tree mushroom chaga and showed, how to weave bracelets from laces. However, such participants were rather a rule on our project, than an exception, and you can tell a lot of interesting things about each of them, what, may be, we will eventually do.
But the activities of our expedition on Lake Baikal were not limited to the construction of the trail. The guys helped in the improvement of the Visit Center of the Baikal Nature Reserve: painted the fence, cleared the paths of grass, collecting garbage along the shore ... Someone may think this is insignificant, but the neat appearance of the Visit Center attracts tourists, and the more there are, the more funding the reserve has, which means more opportunities for nature conservation. So in fact every little thing is here (however, like almost everywhere) is of great importance.
The third front of work for the expedition participants was the Central Estate of the Reserve, near which our campground is located. Usually people were sent here in rainy weather, when no trail building, neither was it possible to be engaged in the improvement of the Visit Center. There was always work on the Central Estate: someone was busy sorting garbage, someone helped paint the wooden figure of a nutcracker bird, someone was cleaning in the National Town ... In the warm and dry House of the Naturalist on the Central Estate it was possible to glue envelopes for seeds, so that the guests of the reserve can then feed the birds, and some of the participants even found creative work - to draw warning posters for sable enclosures. Many visitors try to stroke them through the bars, forgetting, that these cute animals bite very painfully!
All this is not a complete list of those tasks., which the guys performed for the benefit of the reserve as part of the ecological component of the expedition. AND, believe me, it was not at all a burden for them, on the contrary, many noted, that it is much better to bring real benefits to Baikal, than just relaxing on its shores. This makes people feel more than just passive beneficiaries, but part of something big and important. Also, spending your energy and your time to help in preserving nature, you begin to understand and appreciate this very nature much more - no moral teachings and lectures can achieve such a qualitative effect.
However, the expedition members also listened to lectures, where without them. It is not for nothing that the name of the expedition contains the word "educational"! At the Museum of the Central Estate, the guys learned, that almost every scarecrow, hand-made by a taxidermist, a real tragedy is hiding, and in the numerous halls of the Visit Center they heard, what tragedy the whole Baikal can expect, if you do not stop the thoughtless exploitation of its resources ... Participants also learned a lot of useful things about the rules of handling various tools and equipment, which is used in the construction of the trail, and many many others. It's impossible to retell it all, and it is hardly necessary. If you so want to know it, then you will have such an opportunity next year, because the Inclusive Resource Center will definitely organize another expedition to Baikal, and you can also apply for participation in it!
By the way, many members of the last expedition have already thought about, to take part in the construction of the Great Baikal Trail once again, and it doesn't matter - as part of an inclusive or regular volunteer group, and some already on the shore of Lake Baikal signed up for our next expedition to Taganai. Isn't this the best mark for everything, what has been done in these two weeks!