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TRIP REPORT
Sary Tau Trail
The description of the first completed passage of Sary Tau Trail (STT)
General information
Runner: Dmitry Postnov, Saratov, Russia, (ITRA PI = 469 on XXL trails)
Start time: 10/12/2019, 10-40 a.m.
Finish time: 10/22/2019, 9-38 a.m.
Total duration: 238 hours 58 min. (9 days, 22 hours, 58 min.)
Total distance (including deviations from route): 604.18 km
Total ascent (according to nakarte.me): 8144m

Photos sorted by days:

https://www.sambatrail.ru/stt-photos
Route
Developed by Dmitry Postnov, described in details here:
https://www.sambatrail.ru/sary-tau-trail/
Basic Equipment
Running bag Salomon SKIN PRO15 SET (France)
Homemade front and bottom bags (Attached to the SKIN PRO 15)
Canon Belt Bag
Folding trekking poles Naturhike Carbon (China)
Sleeping bag RedFox X-Light, 600gr. (Russia)
Hammock Hamaca (China), 600 gr.
Silicone awning, 150 gr , Life blanket
Camping dishes for 1 liter,
gas bottle 220 gr., burner 40 gr.
2 plastic bottles of 500 gr. , Miniwell Water Filter (China)
Sneakers Saucony Peregrine Iso, (USA)

Set of running clothes - 1st layer (Craft, Zep, Kalengi,)

Set of warming clothes:
Thermal underwear Brubeck, Red Fox,
Down vest Red Fox,
Gloves Red Fox

Set of waterproof clothing:
Jacket RedFox Vector
Pants Salomon
Homemade Tafeta Cloak

Gadgets and navigation:
Sartphone Doogee S55Lite, Powerbank 10,000 mah
Garmin Dakota 20 with spare batteries
Suunto Ambit 3 Peak
Flashlight Petzel Actic Core (France)
Spare Flashlight SunRee (China)
Set of printed maps on the route (44 sheets A5)

First aid kit
Food supply for the coming days (sweets, roasted peanuts, dry potatoes, seasonings, bouillon cubes)

Daily Summary Schedule
Day / Date / Distance, km (Suunto Ambit 3 Peak) / Ascent, m (Suunto Ambit 3 Peak) / Ascent, m (nakarte.me)

  1. 12.10.2019 52.24* 877 / 910
  2. 13.10.2019 61.24 1493 / 1176
  3. 14.10.2019 60.12 1022 / 940
  4. 15.10.2019 62.88 662 / 642
  5. 16.10.2019 60.11 46 026** / 734
  6. 17.10.2019 61.61 2189** / 593
  7. 18.10.2019 63.60 805 / 749
  8. 19.10.2019 22.57+30.81 226+320 / 494
  9. 20.10.2019 51.54 812 / 704
  10. 21.10.2019 66.05 1081 / 1014
  11. 22.10.2019 11.41 219 / 188
In Total: 604.18 km 8844m D+ 8144m D+

Trip description day by day
Day 1 (12 October, 52 km, 877D +)
After heavy night rain, we arrived at the launch area late, and it was impossible to drive close by car. Therefore, the start was reached on foot from a point 4 km from the start of the STT. Finally I started at 10-40 local time. The initial section belongs to the national park and there are almost no roads . Tall grass, overgrown shrubs are difficult to pass through. I saw wild animals.
Below the village of Black Zaton there are roads along the coast, you can run. Descent to water is off-road, but not difficult. Further movement is either along coastal stones or along roads made by fishermen. At 26 km there is a stream, but its quality is unknown - it stems from swamping.
The heavy and slow route section starts at 32 kilometers, after the fisherman's camp. Movement along the coast here is very problematic, and the coastal strip is very narrow, with slippery stones. One have to do many water walks. I began to climb the slope after 35.5 km, this was a mistake, it was better to walk another 600 meters along the coast, and so I had to make my way along the edge of the field, without a road.
The route section along the forest belt and the movement along the ecological trail is a quick and pleasant stretch along the field and forest roads.
After a steep descent in the ecotropic claw, problems arose in the area of the resort Cheremshany 2, where the path was blocked by new fences - they made a private ski slopes. I spent some time negotiating with the guards, but in the end they led me to the place where I climbed over the fence. They also scored drinking water. Spent the night in the nearest pine forest.


Day 2 (13 October, 61.24 km, 1493D +)
This is a beautiful and difficult day, the main part of which passes through the Khvalynsky mountains.

There are many ups and downs, the roads below are dirty, but above there is almost no dirt, the roads are chalky, white. The path through the Khvalynsky national park ends at 89 km with access to the paved road. After another 2.5 km - a gas station, where I recharged my smartphone and took a small packet of food, which I left here on the way to the start. After that, the desert road leads west. At 102 km I found the spring "Barynya", scored water.

Troitskaya Hill I decided to climb from the north, but this turned out to be an ambiguous decision, at the beginning of the climb the forest was impassable, and the road marked on the map no longer exists.

However, in the upper part of the mountain the forest is cleaner, and the descent to the south-west turned out to be very beautiful and interesting, despite the darkness.

At 108 km of the path there is a ford across the Tersa River. It turned out to be unexpectedly deep, almost to the waist, and I froze a little. Perhaps that is why I soon got a little lost, turning off the road sooner than necessary. Surprisingly, one thin blue line on the map here indicates an impenetrable channel, swampy and overgrown with reeds. I did not try to cross it to get on the way and returned to the paved road, making a detour.

Spent the night at the edge of the forest 115 kilometers.




Day 3 (October 14, 60.12 km, 1022D +)
It is mostly a road day, but beautiful. First, good forest roads lead past and around the "Popova Shishka" hill, then through the village of Kulikovka and the fields to another forest, the Serebryakov Dol boundary. The middle of this part is a little monotonous, but then the road again becomes interesting. At 146 km far ahead - at the bottom you can see the highway and the village of Tersa, from where the road goes towards Volsk. I quickly walked here along the side of an asphalt road. After 154 kilometers, a new forest area begins with steep ascents and descents. This is already the vicinity of the city of Volsk, but the landscape is surprisingly beautiful and deserted, since it leads not to the city, but to a huge chalky career. I was here at sunset, in the last rays of the sun. To get to the city, I had to cross the mountain, from where a magnificent view of the city's evening lights opened. The next 5 kilometers pass through the city. It is not difficult and quite beautiful, especially in the old quarter. You can quickly go through the deserted streets and consider houses 60-100 years old, or even older.

At the exit from the city, 167.5 km of the route, I went to the store to buy food and charge a little smartphone.

When I went further, at 169 km I had to pick up much more to the right, in the dark going around the local airfield. In the end, it turned out to be successful, since a new road, not indicated on the map, approached from the north, and I went along it. It was amazing - bright white, laid out with pure chalk, a wide road directly glowed in the dark and led me along the route.

Spent the night in a pine forest before the descent to the Volga, at 175 km of the route.





Day 4 (October 15, 62.88 km, 662D +)
It was the day of the Serpentine Mountains, where a very long stretch of the coastering path, where I moved right along the shore. After the village, Rybnoe was marked on the top of the slopes, but a local resident told me that the middle of the slope, which was laid by the fishermen, was in good condition and beautiful, so I ran along it. So it turned out! After the road through the pine forest ended, for some distance the tracks of the car went right along the stones of the Volga, and it was easy to run. Then they disappeared and the speed dropped to about 4 km per hour. At 188 kilometer passed a large pumping station. At 189 km, a road opens onto the shore that is not on the map. A clean stream flows here. After that - about 7 kilometers of movement along the wild deserted coast, where I met exactly 1 person who sailed here in a boat. He slept in a hut and complained about the wind, which did not allow him to find the networks set yesterday. Coastal stones are very different, there are sites of white chalk cliffs, from which the coastal strip of water becomes muddy white, and sometimes - small pebbles, in which the legs get stuck and it is really hard to run.

From the "Double" ravine at 197 km, a good road begins up to the forest. On the planned route was a section of an impassable shrub along the pipeline, although the road is shown on the map. To get around it, I would have to make a big detour, and I crept straight through. From the pipeline structures begins 9 kilometers of a good road through picturesque places, which leads directly to the village of Voskresenskoye. I tried to run, but it was difficult to fight with sleep. In Voskresensky, I suddenly saw a familiar face - my friend Alexander Sadovnikov, a scientist, but also an experienced photographer, tracked me by online tracking and came to take a picture (not only me, but also the landscapes here). It was a pleasant and encouraging meeting. In Voskresensky I charged my smartphone and powerbank, after which I returned to the path right along the Volga at 212 km. This beautiful and easy-to-run stretch ended at 217 km. Then I left the Volga for a long time, since the path further lay to the north, to the forest area.

By nightfall, I was already in a completely different landscape. Perhaps the scenery here would be boring during the day, but at night by the light of a lantern - everything is mysterious and not even easy to navigate. I saw wild animals, not all of which I recognized. Late in the evening it quickly became very cold. With difficulty I found a place to spend the night in a forest belt at 240 km, and with the first rays of the sun I ran away from there, dressed in everything that I have.








Day 5 (16 October, 60.11 km, 634D +)
The main thing that happened on that day was the crossing of the Tereshka River. 9 years ago there was a reliable ford in the intended place, no higher than waist-high. This time, it seemed, there was more water, or maybe the channel changed. I crossed the river, carrying all the equipment overhead in a plastic bag.

The depth in the middle of the river turned up to the chest, the water is quite cold. However, when I approached the opposite bank, it turned out to be very deep, and I could not swim with equipment without not wetting everything. In the end, I went along the coast, down the river, until after 40-50 meters I found a way out to the right bank. Pretty much frozen, I was very glad of success. As a result, I quickly and with dry things ended up on the right side of the river! I could go on!

Further on that day there was a very long "run-through" route section in a northerly direction. Dirt and paved roads, agricultural area and very poor with mobile communications and Internet. Surprisingly, people live here, but in many places the smartphone showed that there is no connection from any provider.

In deep darkness I got to the village of Bolshaya Ivanovka, this is 295 kilometer of the track. I noticed that the picturesque ruins of the church, which I saw in the photographs, are no more - the church is repaired and opened, services are going on in it. It was already late evening, and there was nobody on the street, all the houses were closed. I found a well, got some water and went on, looking for a forest road towards the Moss Swamp. Spent the night in a beautiful pine forest at 299 km.

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Day 6 (17 October, 60.61 km, 593D +)
Leaving the night, I immediately got into the old big forest with many streams, so that water for dinner from the village could not be carried. The road as a whole is not bad, sometimes dirty, sometimes stony, but easy to walk. On the rise, at the 300th kilometer, for a long time I tried to "catch" mobile communications and restart the tracker. It is very difficult with mobile communications, you need to get out to some special places, such as the top of a hill, but a tall forest covers everything.

To the Moss swamp I made my way straight through the forest. A lot of blockages. The swamp itself differs sharply from the area around, as if I got to the northern edges: small birches, colorful moss ..

Further I walked and ran along forest roads in a westerly direction. Roads are different in cross-country ability, but overall it's normal and beautiful. Crossing the asphalt road, I suddenly saw a familiar figure with a camera! This is Alexander again, said that he decided to combine his trip to the village of Loch with a photo-hunt for me.

At 320 km, an unpleasant surprise awaited me. It turned out that roads through a large field on the way no longer exist - everything has been plowed up. After trying to find a way somehow, I decided to cross a huge, till the horizon, plowed field - it's 3.5 kilometers. When I crossed it, it turned out that the forest road also no longer exists, although it is indicated on the map. Crossed the forest along animal paths. It took a lot of time, the slopes here are littered with a windbreak, and the valleys of the streams are built up with beaver dams and swamps. Based on this experience, after 327 kilometers I chose a more reliable path along the edge of the forest.

Loch is a large village with beautiful sights. I ran into the ancient restored mill, the "calling card" of this place. According to local residents, there is no crossing over the Chardym River in the place where I planned it. Therefore, I laid a new version of the path through the village of Gremyachka and the old destroyed bridge through which you can cross the river from without soaking your feet. This is 349 kilometer of the way. Walking near the village of Sokur, I did not notice how the batteries at the Garmin Dakota ran out, so it fell off a kilometer track, but there was nothing interesting there. Spent the night in a beautiful and interesting place, on a 360.4 kilometer path, by the bridge over the Sokurka River. Here, some strange trees created an almost park landscape, and I found shelter from the cold wind in the trunk of a huge fallen tree, where I settled for the night.



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Day 7 (18 October, 63.60 km, 805D +)
According to the plan, on this day I had to run to the DogWinter husky kennel near the village of Sosnovka, where I agreed in advance about the rest and overnight. In the morning, I realized that I could not, too many kilometers remained. In fact, I walked almost exactly on the planned daily schedule, but the real path was longer than planned.

The first third of the day's journey along the forest roads was good and enjoyable. Then again there was a problem with a plowed field where a good road had to go along the edge of the forest. I had to look for workarounds.

In the end, to 397 km I went to a nice and beautiful route along the forests and hills. For a long time I was looking for the correct (on the right road) exit from the Kurdyum village on 417-418 kilometers of the track.

Spent the night at 424 km, which is roughly what I planned for 7 days, but there was still a fair distance to the DogWinter kennel. I began to understand that if I want to keep within 10 days of the journey, I will have to move hard until the last moment. Fortunately, on the last day I had planned only 30 kilometers, and I could take advantage of this.





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Day 8 (19th October, 22.57+30.81 km, 500D +)
There is no water in the place where I spent the night. Therefore, I decided to start without breakfast, and come up with something along the way. This "something" turned out to be a gas station at 431 kilometers when I crossed the highway.

Here I just bought myself coffee and a big Snickers. After another 6 kilometers, near the village of Zlobovka - a large well-equipped spring with a powerful stream of water.

Then I moved - by copses, and then along the roads to beautiful pine forests near the village of Sosnovka. In front of the DogWinter kennel (447 kilometer) I was met by the wife Svetlana with our dog, Husky Michelle. Together we reached the kennel, where I arranged the first big stop from the start, to rest, recharge gadgets and replenish supplies. At this point, I overcame 22.5 km in the morning. I figured that on this day I need to make at least another 30 kilometers.

I continued on at about 4 p.m. The countryside here is familiar to me, and I ran without problems until dark. When I got to the intersection of the railway, I spent some time looking for the best option. As shown by a detailed analysis after the finish, I correctly decided not to cross the Goryuchka River and, in the end, found not a bad option. I spent the night on 478 kilometer of the way, having passed 30 kilometers assigned to myself. To do this, however, I had to move until 01-00 a.m. on October 20.






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Day 9 (20th October, 50.54 km, 812D +)
Again the trail goes on top of the slopes of the Volga coast. They are special, well recognizable. One of the features is that almost all roads go towards or away from the river, while the trail runs along it. Therefore, there are many off-road crossings from road to road along tall grasses and wild slopes. It is beautiful and interesting, but the speed drops dramatically. By nightfall I went through the entire ravine section, then from 513 to 538 km I need to cross a flat plateau, which seems endless. In addition, no detailed maps were found for this area. Around midnight, I realized that I could not find the road along the right path, and the one that was was leading to the side. In addition, I was cold and pretty tired. As a result, I hid in the nearest forest for the night at the 530th kilometer, reasoning that "morning is wiser than evening". Daily mileage was not completed and it bothered me a little.






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Day 10 (21st October, 66.05 km, 1081D +)
In the morning I quickly figured out the situation. The turning point on the intended path was not accurately plotted, and the fork I needed was not there. During the day I would have noticed, but at night I couldn't. However, I feel great, I have a lot of strength and I rushed to make up for what I did not pass yesterday.

I made excellent progress towards the village of Rogatkino, but there the necessary road to Gusevo ended at the cemetery and again I had to look for a workaround. After Gusevo, on the road to Mount Shihan and on it - excellent views. This is an interesting peculiar locality - the "upper floor" of the Volga ravines.

After the village of Melovoye, I again spent extra time and effort, as the pattern of roads changed.

I still don't know where the "right" road to Nizhny Bannovka is now laid. The first half of the one indicated on the cards does not exist. Later I discovered that different maps show this area differently. This applies specifically to the roads.

One way or another, but by the final nightfall I reached the village of Nizhnyaya Bannovka, which I was very happy about. Here begins a "specially protected natural area", something like a national park, but simpler, and I know every path here, since I developed the trails of the "Samba Trail" trail race here. Therefore, I no longer took out the navigator, and looked only at the number of kilometers traveled. This site has pleased a large number of wild animals. Again I met a fox, from somewhere on top right under my feet a badger rolled down on the road, in the woods constantly around me were green eyes of roe deer, which were curious, but they were afraid to come.

With great efforts I reached the intended place for the night at 597 km. 66 kilometers were covered in a day. Tired but satisfied. Tomorrow I will finish.







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Finish (22nd October, 11.5 km, 219D +)
In the morning, at first I slept a little longer - up to 7 hours, and then I suddenly became worried that I might not be in time. He quickly packed up and ran down to the Volga, and then to Datura Mountain. Yesterday, my wife, Sveta, and a friend of the trail running, also Dima, called and asked me not to finish too early, because they want to come and shoot the finish video. And now they are already ahead, high, on Datura Mountain, and I am still below. But I was running easily, as on the first day, and at 9 in the morning we had already met on a flat top. They brought a drone with them and said that they would take a little shot of my run on the mountain, and then at the finish. So they did. Finally, I stopped at the very edge of the shore, near the water, sat down, and turned off both stopwatch, one on the arm and the other in the head.

IThat's all. I did it.









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Conclusions
I went the route very close to the original plan and almost exactly at the planned time. For the future, it will be necessary to make many small corrections (basically - they are all in my track), and two large ones - to reposition the trail where I had problems with plowed roads. This can be done with almost no change in distance.

I would also like to improve the trajectory in the southern part from 530 to 570 km, since there are more beautiful places and sections than are now visible from the trail. But for this, it will be necessary to travel to these places on purpose.

In general, it turned out a large and varied trail that connects many of the best places in the Saratov region. Those sections that simply run along the roads - they also have a right to exist and will be liked by road runners. Just running towards the horizon - there is something in that too.

It is possible to plan the STT in May, when it is not too hot and the grass will be low. However, the water in the Volga and other rivers will be significantly colder.

I consider successful both the used set of equipment and tactics.

I will be happy to help anyone who decides to repeat the STT in full or in part.




Dmitry Postnov

Saratov

October 28, 2019.








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