July 29th Sunday day 40 on the water:
I was ready to go by 8. Put everything up underneath a roof over a large picnic table, it had continued to rain all morning long. So, I put my chair up on the table and Stormy and I just sat there and were patient.Waiting for my ride out of the rain.
He showed up about 8:30 and said he had to go to work, but a friend of his would come and take me. True to his word, at about 9:45 his friend showed up and we loaded up, put the kayak on top, tied it down good and off we were to the other side of the Holy Nose.
The drive took about 1 ½ hours and the road wasn’t bad. We had to stop at the National Park Entrance, which I knew I was going to be paddling in for the next week or so and I “thought” the girls at the entrance understood what I was doing and they gave me a permit/document for the park. I assumed it was the right one, but that becomes a very interesting story, in the next couple of days.
Once we got to the place where all of the large tour boats docked to take people up the lake to some resorts, or just for rides on the lake, we unloaded all of the gear, got the kayak down and once again I got set up underneath a good size picnic table with a top on it. There was so much going on, plus construction on putting in new docks and parking that I decided to just sleep on the picnic table. It was raining off and on and the wind was blowing, so fixed up a wind break and Stormy and I were very comfortable.Just got the van unloaded and kayak in the water.These boats run tourists up the lake to resorts.
I got the kayak in the water, got it all packed up except for what we needed to sleep with. I had a blow of top ramen type soup, which I eat often. We did go to bed until about 10 because that was when the last of the boats came in and everyone left. Plus, there were 4 construction guys working on the site who were staying right next to us and they had a generator going until that time.2 of the people working on trails in the National Park.
There were a group of about 20 people who had been working on trail work in the National Park that were at the end of the volunteering. They were from all over the world.Once again, I continue to be disappointed at the amount of people.
July 30th Monday day 41 on the water:On the water once again.
Everyday it seems that the visibility is getting worse. I knew there were some forest fires going on, but at this point in time, had no idea just how many there were and how much worse the visibility was going to get.A good example of the deteriating condition of things in this area of Russia.
Enjoying the good life on Lake Baikal.
You don’t see a lot of this. But like anywhere, there are those that have it and those that don’t. In this part of Russia, I can tell you 99% of them don’t.Headed across the bay to the East side.A good campsite out of the wind.
When I was given the document/permit for the National Park area, as I was headed north on the east side of the lake, I showed them the in Reach map and explained to them what I was doing, before paying for the document/permit. I was instructed to stop at every Ranger Station and check in and show the document/permit to the Ranger. On the 1st night after setting up camp, the picture above, I walked down to the Rangers cabin and presented the document. He looked at it and told me, even though he didn’t speak English and of course I know no Russian, but I understood what he was saying, that I had the wrong document and I needed to go back and get the right one.
I looked at him and said, “no way”. I don’t go back and won’t. He understood perfectly. He was not happy, but didn’t appear to be threatening, so I stuck to my guns. I told him to call his headquarters on the two-way radio and that is what he did. Once the conversation was over, he still said I had to go back and get the right document. Once again, I said no way and indicated to him that he would have to shoot me or arrest me, I was not going back. I told him to call Putin, the Kremlin or his supervisor again, I wasn’t going back.
Once again, he got on the two-way radio and at the end of that conversation, he put the mic down and looked up and me and indicated I could go on. I left his cabin and wondered if I was going to have a boat show up to arrest me or shoot me.
July 31st Tuesday day 42 on the water:We ended up paddling almost all day along these cliffs.
Once around the 1st bend, we started to paddle along some very rocky, sheer cliffs and did so pretty much all day long. I knew they were there but didn’t realize just how far the mountains came down to the water and how extensive these rocky cliffs were. There were several wildfires still burning right down to the edge of the water and you could still see the flames.Millions of years of water erosion.I was beginning to wonder if the cliffs would ever end.
Once we got around and past the cliffs the shoreline opened and the next Ranger’s cabin came into view and it was only about noon, but the wind had kicked up and I figured that I would just stay there, if possible. As I got closer the Ranger was standing on the bank waiting for me and I knew what that meant. He was going to tell me I had the wrong document.
As he motioned me over, I paddled up, he helped me stabilize the kayak on the rocks and spoke some English to me and he said to come in, we would have a cup of tea and discuss the situation. He was from St. Petersburg and spoke enough English that I knew at least we were going to be able to communicate.
Once inside and the tea in front of us, he explained to me I had the wrong document for the “special area” within the park, that had a 3 kilometer area out from the bank and it was very restricted and without the “proper” document I had to go back.
I explained to him, that was an impossibility, and it was not going to happen. I told him it would take me a week to go back to Park Headquarters and besides, I don’t go backwards. My whole trip as I explained to him in detail, was based upon going forward, not backwards. After some discussion, I went back down to my kayak, got my bandanna that I tie around my neck and went back into the cabin and asked him to come outside. By now, we were getting along pretty good.
I grabbed a rake leaning against the cabin, put it in his hands, took him about 20 paces from the side of the cabin, gave him the rake and had him hold it like a gun pointed at the side of the cabin. Then I went to the side of the cabin, tied the bandanna around my eyes, put my hands behind my back and told him to shoot. Then I took off the bandanna and he got the message very clearly; I wasn’t going back. Period.
We went inside and he got on the two-way radio and after an hour of going back and forth, he looked up and me and smiled and said I could pick up the right document at the next Ranger’s station and it would cost me 600 rubles for 3 nights camping in the park. After that we really got along. Turned out he did a lot of canoeing. Had climbed Mt. Everest and he was quite the outdoor guy. It all ended well. I spent the night there and he prepared fish for dinner.Lots of mosquitos here. But a safe good place to sleep.The Ranger preparing dinner.Stormy with another friend to play with. The rangers dog.
There was a firefighting crew staying here at the Rangers cabin and they had just gotten back down out of the mountains. This was the 1st indication of how bad the fires were, even though I knew from the lack of visibility that there were multiple fires and I had already seen a couple. I had no idea of the extent of the fires.
August 1st Wednesday day 43 on the water:This fire started from a lightning strike right next to the Ranger's cabin.
For miles the fire had burned right down to the lake and of course the smoke hung right on the water and the visibility became less than 10%, you couldn’t even see the bank at times if you were a short distance from the bank.Lots of streams/water falls in this area.
We stopped for our morning break and there was bear tracks and piles all over the place. It was the 1st time I had seen this much bear sign. We took our break and got back in the kayak. The break wasn’t that long. I was nervous.
It took a good 8 hours to paddle the distance to the next Ranger’s station. As I approached, I could see 2 people, standing on the bank, one a lady the other the Ranger. I assumed the lady was the one I heard on the two-way radio explaining to the last Ranger yesterday, that I needed to pay the 600 rubles.
Once I got there, we went over and sat down on a picnic bench, she produced the document she had in her hand, I signed it and paid her 1000 rubles and she didn’t have change which was fine with me. I was legal and knew I wasn’t going to have a bad time any more from the Rangers. I had 2 more Ranger stations to stop at before getting out of the “Special Park Zone”.
They left and I sat up camp in a good spot, with a covered tabled and not 30/40 feet from the edge of the lake and the kayak.Another great spot to spend the night.Yes, there are elk in the park.
I fixed a good dinner. Got things ready and packed the kayak as much as I could and go things ready to leave early in the morning. I have got in the habit of putting the cereal and powdered milk in the bowl ready for in the morning and would eat once an hour or so went by after putting on the water. I also always put Stormy’s breakfast in her bowl, so I could put the dog food bag away. And I had a “snack bag” for our breaks that had cheese, hard salami, hard bread and a knife to cut the salami and cheese up.
We went to bed and it wasn’t long and the two dogs at the Rangers Headquarters were really barking and I heard them barking in multiple locations and at that time I figure a bear was probably coming thru the area. I always had the air horn and bear spray with me. Stormy had the hair up on her back so I knew the bear was not that far away. But as time went on the dogs quit barking. I settled down and eventually got to sleep. That is always a very stressful situation.
August 2nd Thursday day 44 on the water:
Once up and making the 1st trip down to the water to start the packing of the kayak, I knew something wasn’t the same. My breakfast bowl was along side the lake side of the kayak full of sand. Stormy’s bowl was laying outside of the kayak, empty. And my snack pack was gone. Then I saw the tracks.Not a big bear but big enough. Not 30/40 feet from the tent.
Once on the water, I realized that with seeing all the bear sign that we hadn’t been seeing, the fires were probably pushing the bears out of the high country and back down to the lake’s edge, which is where they start out in the late spring after coming out hibernation. Then they gravitate up to the high country because that is where the deer, moose, reindeer and elk have their calves and that is where the food is. There is very little food for them along the lake’s shore. And this was bear country anyway. One of the few places, being in the park where there just aren’t a lot of people.My wrists/forearms were bothering me, so I tied them up for some support.
August 3rd Friday day 44 on the water:
As we know by now, we never dilly dally getting on the water. Stormy is always ready to go and never, never hesitates to get into her seat. If I stay consistent with that, eventually we will get to wherever it is we are going for the day, days, and weeks. One of my biggest challenges is the visibility, the lapping of the water constantly on the shoreline and the fact there is absolutely no wildlife along this lake. There are no songbirds and very few waterfowl. One would think that the sound of the water lapping on the shoreline would be something one would enjoy. But 24 hours a day and it becomes chaos noise to me, and that kind of noise drives me nuts. Motorcycles. Dodge trucks. Little zoom cars with their mufflers changed out. The TV. The noise in a restaurant, with everyone yelling to be heard and of course the loud music in stores, restaurants, public places it all ends up stressing me and I hate it. Hence, why I do so well on top of the mountain.
Our destination today was Dashaw, a Park Ranger Headquarters and once one of the most famous settlements on the lake. Evidently, once the Park was established, the people had to move out and no one but the Park employees are at this settlement now. At one time it was thriving and quite a place.Dashaw
Someone with an artistic mind.The Special District end of the Park on the North end.The Rangers cabin that is still in the National Park.
Once I got to my destination, the Rangers cabin, I took the liberty of putting my tent up and assumed that someone would be back, because you could tell someone was staying there.Fixing dinner, lots of mosquitos, Stormy is in the tent.
Sure enough, a couple of hours later a boat shows up with 4 guys and 2 kids in it. They had been here for 10 days. One of them spoke limited English. I asked them if one of them was the Ranger, and his answer was “something like that”. I assumed they had connections to be able to stay here that long. They had a good boat and were fishing. No drinking and only one of the guys smoked. To have 4 guys not drinking was a rarity. I showed them what I had done, and what I hope to complete, and they were astounded, and I garnered a lot of respect.Eating watermelon with the 4 guys and 2 kids.