Ihad long wanted to visit Kamchatka, a mysterious destination located along the “Ring of Fire” in Russia’s distant eastern reaches. Known for its more than 200 volcanoes and diverse wildlife, Kamchatka is not easy to get to, and I had to fly through Seoul and Vladivostok before I finally reached Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the main city on the peninsula. I arrived tired but excited to begin my exploration of this dramatic volcanic landscape.

I woke up early and eager the next morning and opened my curtains at the Antarius Hotel to rain, fog and nearly zero visibility. My plan for the day was to climb “Camel Mountain”, a relatively easy hike to nearly 4,300 feet, where spectacular views of Avachinsky and Koryaksky volcanoes supposedly awaited me. Refusing to be daunted by the conditions, I braved the rain and swirling mist to set off through the lunar-like landscape of loose black volcanic ash. I hiked for about two hours to arrive at the summit, soaking wet. The panorama may have been spectacular, but with the entire mountainscape shrouded in the thick fog, I couldn’t see anything at all. Walking back down the mountain I reflected on the temperamental nature of Kamchatka’s weather, and how it could completely make or break my trip.

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