Explorer Mikael Strandberg

20 years since the Siberian Expedition:: A day of Siberian civilization

20 years since the Siberian Expedition:

A day of Siberian civilization

13 Aug, 04 – 23:52 N 61°56’29.5 E149°49’49’49, 30 km;s paddled, steaming hot day, light southerly wind.

Kolyma is possibly the true home of contrast!

After our first week of terribly bad weather dominated by a river of violent rapids, whitewater and stressed nerves, this second week offers us a blazing hot sun, slight tailwinds, an ocean of calm water where paddling is demanding, but easy so to give us plenty of time to either contemplate life or

enjoy the magnificent surroundings. Another change of fortune this week, is the fishing. We didn’t even get a sign of life the first week, now we get sufficient fish everyday to keep us strong and healthy without us using our backup food consisting of Norwegian driedfrozen food.

Today we netted our first pike of the trip, which we filleted, grilled and ate for lunch together with a grayling. We’ve also had our first encounter with civilization since starting the Expedition at the Kulu River. Two weeks without seeing a soul. Well, yes, we saw a fisherman in the Kulu River when we sped past him and a golddigger which passed us at the Grayling Stream a few days ago in a steel motorboat, but he didn’t see us, since we were well hidden. On top of that, the only sign of life we’ve seen is abandoned villages, goldminers dens and a variety of wrecks of machinery. All of it seems to be abandoned in a haste. For example, one goldminers den we visited, one had a feeling that the people occupying the place had fled heads over heels. The washingline still had clothes hanging there, firewood was dry, cut and ready to use, the door to the logcabin was left open and inside, there was a jacket, a pair of feltboots and a sleepingbags.

We’ve also come across, whilst thoroughly checking the river by foot on its sides, overgrown winter- and summer vehiculetracks -how they’ve been able to force their way through this dense bush, is a riddle to me!- abandoned steel motorboats, oilbarrels, parts of armory, cartridges, empty wheatflowersacks, empty vodka bottles and other rubbish. At times I have a feeling of traveling through an unknown planet, which everybody believed to be free of human life, but which in reality turns out to be an old civilization which has succumbed to the forces of time and nature. I guess this is not entirely wrong in this case.

The abandonment of this area started with the fall of the Sovjetunion. At least this is the feeling I’ve until today, when a noisy little mining community appeared at the foot of the magnificent mountain range called Pik Aborigien. The name of this village is Moots Orosma, consisting of many of these 2 story, white slabs of concrete buildings, Sovietstyle, bulldozers, dumpers and big mining mounds. We decided not to go there, since it was 3 km;s away on the other side of the river and we don’t feel like meeting other humans yet! Or getting into contact with possibly demanding pedantic local police.

In reality we’ve been in the so called civilization since we left the Grayling Stream, since the ocean we’re passing now is the result of a gigantic dam called Sinegorye, where we expect to reach tomorrow or the day after. And then, whether we like it or not, we will encounter other humans then!

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