Cruises along the Lena
The Lena is one of the greatest rivers of Russia. Cruise navigation lasts only since the middle of May till the 25th of September. For sailing by the Lena even at the height if summer it is necessary to take warm things with you (sweater, windbreaker, head-dress). Comfortable footwear for pedestrian excursions are very necessary.
The Lena carries its waters for 4,400 km from its sources in the Baikal ridge to the Arctic Ocean. In the middle current width of the Lena reaches 15 km, width of the river-bed in the lower reach is up to 20-25 km, and sizes of the delta of the Lena are even recorded in the Guinness World Records. Its confluents the Vitim, the Olekma, the Aldan and the Vilui exceed many large rivers of Europe.
The name of the river is most likely Tungus-Manchu Elu-Aene, changed by Russians, that means “Large river”. Inhabitants speak of the delta of the Lena the following: here there are so many lakes, so many stars in the sky”. The lakes and confluents are rich with fish and wild fowls.
The Lena's sources. After flowing of the river Anga into the Lena, a wide panorama of the village Kachug is opened. Here the river has peculiar bends of the river-bed, which give the name of the settlement. “Kotchokh” from Russian means “bend”. After Katchuga villages are met in every 5-10 km, many of them are deserted.
In 3 km up village Shishkino on one of rocks rock paintings – petroglyphs – can be seen. A participant of the Great northern expedition Krashennikov was the first who described them in 1736. A mounted warrior with a standard in his hands is depicted on one of the rock paintings. This depict became a basis of the emblem of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). Boats with many seats are also carefully painted, extremities of heads and sterns and also edges-ribs of ancient vessels, age of which is over 20,000 years old.
Steep slope the the Lena valley and far on many ten kilometers are formed by interieaved red – coloured sandstones, limestones and clays. Weathering of rock layers, different in solidity, leads to forming of peculiar outlines of the relief. These favorable places were densely populated formerly; even rifts were formed mostly of former mill-ponds. Having overcome about twenty rifts, several bridges of boats, the river fluently opens the view of ancient town Verkholensk. On the place on present Verkholens, a stockaded town was erected in 1641 year. At first this stockaded town served as point of collecting yasak, late this town become one of the important transit point for caravans from Transbaikalia to Ilimsk and Yakutsk. The verkholensk five – domed church is seen from the river, decorating itself the high bank. Now this village is announced as reserved village.
Cheeks of the Lena and equator of the river
Near kirensk banks of the Lena become more picturesque, especially they are decorated by rocks with red – coloured sandstones, framed of greenery. The town Kirensk is various. Here everything reminds about history, this town conquered its provinciality, streets – by verdure, people – by simplicity of attitude and hospitality.
Today Kirensk – is the town with population of 16 thousands people, a large transshipment point. Outskirts of Kirensk are very picturesque: surrounding mountains are formed by linestones, crystal mountain races and covered coniferous forest. Kirensk's mountain (Sookolinaya) conceals the open karstic cave in 1888 year, but not examined yet.
Lower the village Chastinsk there is a roll, getting the name of «Devil's road», behind the river's valley makes several steep curves. Such curves are called as «the Cheeks of the Lena», they are stretched along the river on 3 km. Sometimes right, sometimes left bank acquires a form of steep rocky benches, the river-bed becomes narrow, in some places up to 700 m, the current becomes a raging stream which rushes from one bank to the other one.
The first right bank cheek has a length about 1 km and represents itself a rock in the form of horseshoe. At right angles to it there is the second, left-bank cheek. Between the first and the third cheeks there is Ponomarev’s fold, by which one can clamber up to the top of the third cheek. An imposing rock – Drunk bull – ascends into the water in 3 km down the mouth of the Karpatchikha river. The bench resembles a bull, drinking water. It turned out drunk because of the fact that in the remote past a small vessel, carrying large bottles with vodka, broke up on it.
A little down the rock «Kolokol» is flowed the river Ura into the Lena. Some river transport workers are considered the Uras as the middle point of the Lena calling this place « equator of the Lena». It is difficult to sail at this part of the river. The next rocky ledge – Khodar mountain – appears like out of the water from the left bank of the river a little down Matcha settlement.
Outlines of the rock Khodara resembles silhouettes of ancient temples which were destroyed by warriors and time. And on one of vertical slopes of a deep cleft an appearing head of a bear, opening its mouth, is distinctly viewed. Steep precipices, height of which is up to 80 m, are the evidence of intensive tectonic processes, which raised this massif above mirror-like surface of the Lena.
In the area of settlement Khatin-Tumul our motor ship enters a rift of the same name, making difficulties for passing of a vessel mostly when there are little water. Ground in the rift is rocky. Blastings in winter and removing of stones by dredgers is spring were carried out here formerly. A special rock-crushing gear operates in this section now.
There is a straight wall, stretching on several tens kilometers, behind islands of the left bank near with mouth of the river Mukhatta. This wall reminds quays of St. Petersburg. It consists of tabular limestones of Cambrian age. Small buttes, formed of similar limestone, which resemble the watchtower of Petropavlovskaya fortress, tower above it in equal spaces. This wall stretches with small intervals to the very Sinsk – quite small settlement, which is situated not far from a mouth of the Siney river.
If in the Lena water level is high, have an excursion in the mouth of the Siney without fail. You can rise at least to the first posts of Sinsk, which can come up with the famous posts of the Lena in beauty. Strikingly unexpected by their gloom, posts tower above their foundation of limestone tablets. Stairs of these titanic tablets resemble a staircase, leading to nowhere, to the foot of the vertical monolithic wall.
Posts of the Lena are steep, absolutely vertical rocks. Time, precipitations, river water and wind put stone terra firma into quaint forms. Extension of posts together with massive stone rocks-buttes along the bank of the Lena is about 80 km. Above the Lena posts rise as a rule by several stages. But caves are of the most interest on the slopes of the valley and its tributaries. The greatest part of the caves, famous within the boundaries of the Lena basin, is timed to the ancient calcareous rocks, easily dissolved in water. Some caves represent a complex system of labyrinths of halls and corridors connected with narrow passages.
Right behind the mouth of the Buotama on the right bank there is a settlement Katchikatsy, unremarkable outwardly though in remote past it was famous for its founders of iron and smiths. Now inhabitants of Katchikatsy are famous for a powerful source of underground waters which is called Bulus (glacier). It is located near the settlement.
In hot sunny day among verdure and pines streams of water on the glacial surface make a great impression. And in severe winter cold wonderful water-glacial cascades make the same impression. And if we recall, observing this picture, that bowels are frost-bound here several hundreds meters beneath the surface, all what we have seen seem quite fantastic.
An island-post is also fantastic. Observing island Stolb from some distance in different days and in different meteorologic conditions one can see change of its height and outlines. Now it towers above water in a little round pyramid form resting on the water surface of the river by its whole basis, now it seems as if it comes to the surface of the Lena connecting with it only by its central part.
If a vessel with low dark boards is passing by the island, they are not viewed and only its white superstructure is seen. Against the dark background of the island it forms a square window, as if cut through in the rocky massif. This window slowly moves against the background of the island until the effect disappears.
These changes of outlines of Stolb island are caused by optical effects which are called mirages. In the Lower Lena mirages appear as a result of contiguity of quite cold masses of the air with the warm surface of water of the Lena coming from the south. Above the surface of water stream of the ascending warm air forms a layer of the other optical characteristics than the main air mass and then it seems as if the island comes to the surface above the water.
In the island there is an unusual “museum’ of things which visitors left. And it is a custom. There is everything in the museum: coins, various pens and pencils, cases and shells. If you leave something here, you will return again.
And no doubt that every person, who has ever been here, will carry away with him unforgettable recollections....