A Walk in a Russian Forest

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Sol Solntze has been a member of h2g2 since 2000, when she joined up from Russia during her first stay in the country. Back there again with her two children (and husband), you can read more of her adventures at kiddingherself.com and look out for more contributions to the Post!

A Walk in a Russian Forest

Venturing into a Russian forest is no joke.

If you have ever flown into Moscow and looked down you will have realised that the capital, situated in one of the more populated bits of Russia, is still basically just sitting in a bigger than normal clearing.

Much of this tree-infested country is essentially trackless, and it's astonishing how one silver birch looks just like another when you have strayed off the only path for miles where mobile coverage is now nonexistent.

It doesn't help that many Russians who spend time in the countryside in summer are not naturally rural, but live more permanently in cities. Wilderness-ready they by and large aren't.

Which is why it was with some trepidation that we launched ourselves and our two children into the woods following a sign that promised an interesting destination if only we could survive the trees for two kilometres.

And why we were extremely relieved to discover that nobody was taking any chances whatsoever and had marked the trail clearly every two trunks or so for the whole journey. Yes, there is a reasonable trail now, but that’s because of the markings.

A Russian forest trail


Two kilometres is quite a long way, and at some point, people started getting bored with bouncing across the springy moss, bounding over fallen trees, appreciating the soft light filtering through the leafy canopy above, listening out for cuckoos and wondering if you have trodden on a snake.

So they decided to liven things up a bit.

This sign says: mosquitoes!
And this one is a pun. See how the words look the same, yeah? They sound the same too. They mean 'swim or dig' in English, which means that something is lost in translation, but to explain the joke more it helps to know that you are coming from datcha land, the traditional home of glorified huts set on giant vegetable patches. Gardening is the number one hobby out here.
Mosquito warningSwim or dig
This suggests you phone for a taxi.

Sun this way.
Phone for a taxiSun this way

A suggestion to fill your bellies with the plentiful blueberries all around.
And a weatherproof visitors book. Which of course we signed.
Eat the blueberries.Sign the visitors' book.

Also along the route were a few clues as to the nature of our objective.

Swimming costumeFlip flops in the forestSwimming trunks in a forest

    Plus, a bar.            
All in all, you might be forgiven
if you thought that the journey
is much more interesting than arriving.
But we wouldn't agree.
Although this admonition on the way back
to get a move on
('your dinner’s getting cold')
was correct.
A bar in the Russian forestRiver through the forestDinner is getting cold, hurry home
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