Trip to Altai

October 31, 2017
By , Moscow, Russian Federation

In Altai for my 8th grade "Discovery Week," I felt the cool Siberian breeze bite at my face.. Every year, the whole middle school goes on a discovery week. Since my school is in Moscow, we happened to go Altai this year to explore another part of the massive expanse known as Russia. This cold and remote region of Siberia has very little inhabitants; the forests are untouched and angelic. On this trip, we had activities every day like hiking and rafting. On one of the days, we went rafting. It all started with me waking up — shivering with my feet going numb as if I were climbing Mt. Everest. As I got up, I woke up my roommate, and we went to have breakfast. When I returned from breakfast, I changed into my swim shorts and wore a shirt on top. After we took a long bus ride from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere, we got out of the bus. Suddenly, standing on the side of the highway feeling concerned, nervousness shook me as I realized I was going to  freeze to death, and I never rafted before in my life.

I already didn’t want paddle, but it turned out that I would regret my decision later on. When we got to the river, we were greeted by a few professional rafters. We put on special rafting wear to help keep us warm. They made us wear these very thick and tight pants, But no proper top! We were given some thin piece of rubber that we wore as a jacket. I was already getting sick and tired of this because i already started freezing. We put on our wetsuits, we were explained what to do, and what not to do. Every teacher had to go with their own advisory. We all jumped into the boats, trying our hardest not to slip and fall, each boat also had one instructor to explain what to do.  After we got on our boats, we were all set to raft on the Altai river.

Everybody in my advisory was paddling except me. There weren’t enough paddles for all of us, so I volunteered to sit in the middle and do nothing. My worst fear was to get splashed and be cold for the rest of the trip. My advisor asked us if we wanted to paddle to other people’s rafts so we could splash them. Everybody got excited and said yes, but I was the only one that wasn’t looking forward to getting splashed by people. As my heart started beating faster, I started shuddering from fear. I was a deer getting hunted down by a tiger and I had nothing I could do about it. Everybody paddled to the raft in front of us and started splashing. But the plan backfired terribly. In seconds, our rafts were filling with water, everybody started screaming uncontrollably. I tried to cover myself by putting my head down... it resulted in water going down my whole back. In the end, everybody was soaking, mostly me because I was in the very front of the raft, so I got directly impacted by the water.   As we went on, I started to get extremely cold, to the point where my thumb started to go numb, my teeth started to chatter in response to the cold and my bones felt like they were going to shatter. Everyone was having fun while I was there sitting stoically and doing nothing.  As we went under a bridge, our guide told us the depth was 20 meters, and we could jump in. Only two people had the courage and bravery to jump. For me, it was the same as if you asked me to jump into a pit of fire filled with demons but colder — all of them waiting to slowly tear your body apart. The feeling just made me even colder. As time elapsed, our guide told us that we were going to stop at our camp to eat noodles and stand near a bonfire. As I heard the news, I was encompassed by delight and excitement. When we got to camp, I quickly ran to the bonfire to warm up and my eyes were suddenly illuminated by the fire. I quickly started to warm up. As everybody started to storm the area just like soldiers training in a boot camp, I noticed the instant noodles and the hot water. I quickly proceeded to unpack the noodles and add hot water. I finished the noodles in a matter of minutes — I didn’t even care if my mouth started burning. Warmth went all around my body, I was an ant that finally got to relax after a long day of excruciating work. In a matter of 5 minutes, I was getting warm again. I was slowly getting ready to tackle the rest of rafting. Energy spread to my body as I got a strong feeling of euphoria. I talked to my friends for a while, they were all saying that it was terrible and they didn’t want to go to the second half. I told them that they should try their best and make the most fun out of the experience, because we most likely wouldn’t go back to Altai to raft together later on. My friends agreed with me and told me that they would try to make the most out of the experience. I took the rest of the time to go and stand at the bonfire. The teachers kept telling us that our rubber clothing that we had on would melt because it was too hot, but no one really listened. Everybody was desperate to get warm. Someone brought some marshmallows and everyone started to attack it. Some people ate it by itself, some people put it on a stick and melted it on the fire. From a distance, it looked like group of starving dogs that were just getting fed.

After 10 to 15 minutes, we went back for round two. I moved clumsily to the raft. The instructors loudly said that we were going to raft even more. We put on our life vest and our helmets and stepped into the raft. This time I asked if I could paddle, I decided that I should try to enjoy this experience as much as possible since I wouldn’t be able to go white water rafting in Altai for a long time. When we started paddling I instantly felt much warmer than I did before. I started discovering that taking part of an activity is the best way to enjoy it. This time, I was ready to splash some people. When our teacher told us to paddle to the nearest raft so we could splash them, I felt thrilled. I started enjoying every moment of rafting.






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