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© Photo: Key To Baikal
April, 18

The Trees That “Are Walking” Towards Baikal

The stilted trees of Baikal became a symbol of the lake, just like the Shamanka Rock or the Circum-Baikal Railway. We will tell you about the way they appeared near the lake and why they need special protection today.

The International Day for Monuments and Sites is celebrated on April 18. When we speak about it, people usualНаличие ходульных деревьев на Байкале – воистину удивительное явление. Собственно, такая специфика корневой системы вполне обычна, но… для тропического морского побережья. Там корни наделены подобным свойством изначально, так как их ходульный вид дает дереву дополнительную опору, позволяющую растению выстоять в илистой или песчаной почве. Не следует забывать силу морского прилива, характерного для подобных природных зон. 

ly think of, the ruins of ancient cities, temples, compositions of sculptures...

However, there are other monuments, created not by skilled human hands, but by nature itself. And they require special care and attention, especially in the current situation of the environmental crisis.

Without any doubt, such monuments are the stilted trees of Baikal.

“Stilted” Trees

On the coast of Lake Baikal you can see the trees with fantastic looks, with incredibly twisted branches, as if standing on their stilt roots. The trunk and roots of such trees and their confluence, rise to a sufficiently large height above the ground, sometimes even to 3 meters.

However, stilts can be seen only in larches and pines, among all trees growing on the coast. It is no coincidence. Only a tree, with strong, rachidian roots, going deep into the soil can survive the choppy pressure of Baikal winds with bare roots. Even the mighty cedar does not have such a solid foundation, and, therefore, its rhizomes simply will not stand the massive weight of the trunk.

Stilted trees occupy their rightful place among numerous unique treasures of the lake’s flora, having the status of natural monuments.

It is believed that the most outstanding specimens of these trees can be found on the northern side of the Peschanaya Bay, on the south-western coast of Baikal. Tourists talk about their experiences of seeing this symbol of the lake on the island of Olkhon, and in the area of ​​the mouth of the Turka River .

Why Do the Tree’s Stilts Appear

The presence of stilted trees on Baikal is a truly wonderful phenomenon. Actually, this structure of the root system is quite common, but... for the tropical sea coast. Those roots initially possess this property, since their stilted appearance gives the tree an additional support making it possible for the plant to stand in silt or sandy soil. We should not forget about the power of tides that is characteristic of such natural areas.

However, such properties are not biologically characteristic of Baikal larch and pine.

Due to which reason do these stilts appear then? The most common explanation is connected with the climatic conditions of Baikal. There are constant gusts of wind, and in the places where the surface is covered with sand, the smallest sand particles are simply blown out from under the roots, gradually exposing them. It can be said with confidence that the lake pines and larches, in the struggle for their survival under difficult environmental conditions, received these stilts both as an additional protection mechanism and as an auxiliary support.

Today, there is a common point of view that the sand being the ground for these specific trees balancing on it, is slowly but surely sliding to the waters of the lake. Of course, our amazing specimens of flora are also approaching Baikal, together with the sand. We do not want to believe that at some point they can disappear in the lake forever.

Stilted Trees in the Baikal Legends

Деревья, у которых выросли ноги@Деревья, у которых выросли ноги
Деревья, у которых выросли ноги
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/
© Photo: http://depositphotos.com/

We cannot exactly inform you about the age of these stubborn plants growing on the coast. But we can find references to such larches and pines in ancient Baikal legends.

Once upon a time a hunter called Gambo lived by the lake; once he learned about the magical horns of the Ogailo ram that had a miraculous property and could cure the hunter’s sick brother. The young man went hunting, but the beautiful Yanzhima, the servant of Haten - the mistress of the Barguzin taiga - stood in his way.

A terrible wind blew into Gambo’s face on the coast of the lake, not allowing him to make even a single step, but the bold hunter stubbornly overcame the obstacle. He had a hard time reaching the pine forest, then he was “picked by the crooked pine branches, and the trees rose so high to lift Gambo higher, so even their roots were exposed from under the ground. And the sand particles from the coast got into Gambo’s eyes. The pines screeched and cracked, shook the hunter and threw him far into the sea lake, and the trees remained on the coast, standing on their roots, like on stilts.”

Shara-Nur lake is located in the center of the Olkhon island. A larch with open roots can be seen on your way there: it seems that the tree was leaning on its branches and grew in a bent position. A Buryat legend says that a mighty warrior Khashkhai-bukhe (Khanshe-bukhe), who possessed unbreakable power, easily rooted the larch out of the ground just for fun, and put it back into the ground again with its branches down.

Caution: People!

Unfortunately, the number of stilted trees on Baikal has decreased. And you cannot blame it only on the free Baikal winds and light sands of the coast. A huge harm has been done to such interesting plants by man.

Many tourists are ready for extremely ambiguous actions for the sake of unique selfies. So, travelers climb to the roots protruding from the sand, shaking and breaking them. Numerous guests approaching to the trees trample down the ground around them so intensely that unprotected roots are exposed even further.

Only due to human carelessness, the most famous tree of Peschanaya Bay died: its roots used to have enough space for 6 people. The roots protruded so high above the ground that people could pass under them without bowing their heads; and even with their hands up, they could not touch the base of the trunk.

Thus, it is no coincidence that now people try to fence these trees off, to protect them from excessively curious tourists: people are allowed to admire the natural phenomena only from a distance.

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