How we tried to fill in the missing piece of road for the shortest crossing of the Altai, bumped into Adam in the back of beyond, flouted permit laws and immensely enjoyed the non-corrugated gravel roads of the southern Altai.
After we crossed through the Russian border we said goodbye to Andrew and Jon as they sped off to Barnaul to find a TIG welder. As we perceived the border to take some time we hadn’t planned anything further than Rubtsovsk so we rolled in early to find a hotel and a good welder to put our awning back on for us. After yet another night in a cosy hotel (we were only there to register!) we hit the road east. Back in Almaty Michael told me about a track he had found using Google Earth that linked the existing road with another 30-40km further east making it the shortest possible crossing of the Altai to Mongolia. Our Russian Atlas showed something similar with a ‘path’ also linking these roads which ran for some 60km. Advice from other adventure bikers was to take these small roads anyway as they passed through traditionally Altaic villages. So a small detour to see if this route was possible seemed like a good idea.