Baikal Again. And Again.

Today was certainly the coldest day I have ever experienced. My phone showed minus 29 when I was leaving the hotel at about 5am. And it did not get any warmer later. All my outdoor and photography equipment went through the ultimate test. And I’m happy to report that except for iPhone X losing the image transition signal when flying the drone, everything else including Phase One (that I was afraid it might have been built mainly for a studio shooting) worked flawlessly and reliably - it definitely exceeded my own operational longevity at such weather.

IMG_3977.JPG

Especially DJI Mavic Pro drone impressed me how well it behaved in a strong wind and that the batteries’ life was not significantly shortened due to very low temperature. By the way, this drone is a fantastic toy simply elevating a photographic pursuit to another level. I used it to scout the ice, but of course I shot some beginner footage and photos. I will write about it once I process the material.

Back to Baikal. It’s my third time here at the same time of the year. I remain amazed by its immensity and subtleness that a visitor gets in one package. Ever-present ice formations and structures remind humans that everything is subject of time that can’t be controlled. Just walking and observing is a great experience of its own.

 Traffic at Ogoy island

Traffic at Ogoy island

 Traffic on the ice

Traffic on the ice

But this time round, I need to travel much farer to avoid the crowd. The lake is just flooded with tourists, mostly from China, who are moving in droves very early morning. It was not the case last year when I was warned by the hotel receptionist that it is dangerous to drive (or better be driven by a local guide) on the ice in dark. We could go anywhere and it was no doubt we would be alone at sunrise. One year later, the request to have a packed breakfast does not surprise anyone. Each and every night, we keep seeing whole clusters of small buses for 8 riding one after another to all known spots of Lake Baikal each and every night.

Utterly disappointing.