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To spice up our food and drink stocks and to increase our vitamin intake we got into foraging for berries, teas and anything edible we could find. Olesya's knowledge of the Baikal vegetation made sure we avoided getting poisoned. On the west coast of the Lake our foraging was mostly tea: chibrietz, Kuril tea, rosehip and other various leaves which we brewed. Garden thyme (chibrietz, in Italy we use it as herb), a small plant which clings on rocks was our favorite tea. So whenever we saw its small purple flowers we were filled with joy! At the other end of our tea-happiness scale there was a leaf (called Ivan chai in russian) which we soon started calling pig-tea because it reminded Barbora of the smell that filled her Grandmother's house when she was cooking potato peels for the pigs. In between these two teas there was a wide range of herbs with an indistinct grass taste.

The east coast was definitely more exciting on the foraging front! There were lots and lots of berries! Blueberries and cranberries and cloudberries, apparently a very expensive berries which don't taste of much but are a real pain to pick (they grow few, low and in swampy areas full of mosquitoes and midges). We collected a small bucket of blueberries in less than an hour during our walk one day. After three days of constantly munching on them we still had some so I boiled it with lots of sugar to make "kompot" concentrate. So you could dilute it with water or spike your tea (or your 99% ethanol if you are Misha to make a cocktail).

In one spot we even found wild onions and enough to get a jar full and have enough to flavor our food for the rest of the journey.

A couple of times we found mushrooms, initially we were reluctant to pick them because of our lack of knowledge on mushroom identification. Olesya gave us a crash mushroom picking course: "there are no poisonous foamy mushroom in Baikal. So if the bottom on the cup is like a sponge it is edible, if it has lines it isn't". We were even less convinced about picking them. Needless to say we ended up picking and eating "foamy" mushrooms.

Foraging gave us a purpose for our post-sailing walks in the forest. What will we find? Sets a challenge: how much can we collect? It also gives a great sense of achievement!


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