By Semen Ustinov
|THORNY PATH TO LENA RIVER|
I was interested in rafting from the very upper waters of Lena river.
The brave hunters did this path on their home-made boats. But they were
<romantics>, the most part of tradesmen pioneered boundless taiga by horse.
Suspension motor let the man go up till the mouth of Little Lena.
In 1986 upper waters of Lena and its sources become part of Baikal-Lensk reserve
and, as the head of Science Department, I had to go there.
Our helicopter did not like the weather; it fastened, found the landing on the right
bank and disappeared behind the darkening mountain pass. We got off the helicopter
right after the second rapid where many boats sank. However, we should get off
downstream from there. So, we had to pass more than 200 km of wild Lena - narrow,
seething, roaring water in the heart of mountain taiga. How our rubber-overloaded
boat would go down the river in such a bad weather?
We had to find out how
to operate the overloaded boat in changeable, uncertain stream. The only thing we
could do - to turn the boat towards the obstacle. So, the boat rushed down the
mainstream bow ways, sideways or sternways. Sometimes I could see some gap in front.
Having passed this part of our way I hold on to the brush and dragged out the boat.
FROM THE DAIRY|
Water is rising quickly. Yesterday evening, I stack the twig into the ground near
the water edge, today's morning it's hardly seen. The water became dark, seethes near
the banks, carries snags. Powerful stream brings the stones down the river. A huge amount
of sand and stones are brought down the river for hundreds of kilometers.
The stone river is floating! But the water is sinking.
The banks go steeply down,
I looked round - with sudden braking we are going up to the mountain! It's a rare sight
at the river: the river-bed goes up, not down as usual. There's no such a sight at the
An unpleasant event happened to us there: at the river rise there was
a crater. Water slowly went into the deep drawing down the heavy loaded boat. In spite
of my efforts the stream sucked the boat towards a huge jam of logs, sticking out sharp
boughs. I saw that boughs would rip the right side of the boat. But, I could still turn
The stern sharply went down. At that moment the boat seemed to stand vertically
and turn upside down under the logs. The boat flatted out, the little bough ripped just
the bow and it kept its buoyancy.
We stood for the night upper of the mouth of
Little Lena, from where we should have started our rafting. Rain became stronger.
Everything was wet. My friends were standing up the tent, I took the axe and went into
the forest to find some dry firewood. It's luck to find resiniferous pine or birch,
but where to find it in a dark rainy night?
For beginner travelers: never in rain,
especially in the night, go away from bivouac without looking round. Nobody would hear
your cry or you would not hear your friends in noise of the river and rain. So, I looked
for firewood along the river bank, firmly knowing where to go back. I knew this caution
like many others during numerous hikes in taiga in any season of the year. This experience
to believe in. The most important in such conditions is to have waterproof matches by
oneself (not in the bag), compass and a couple of good axes. Fraternal minds, devotion
to each other, eagerness to help even in danger of death are also important.
FROM THE DAIRY|
The sky is clearing up, we can see the distant mountains, and rain is thin.
Water in Lena River is also becoming lighter. Low red mountains are seen on the right
bank. There, the Lena channel turned and went straight back. On the mountainside - there
are the nests of swallows. They bold their nests in sand with little beaks.
Now I know these places very well, twice I went down alone: I had to stay for the
night over there. There is an iron stove in the forest winter quarters - it will be
warm and dry there:
We staid for the night on a low bushy bank. A small bear
seemed to have passed there before our arrival. What is cold water for it? It shakes
water off and goes further. That event made us to take some precautions: we pulled
the boat nearer to the fireplace that we kept on during the hole night. We did not
think that the bear would take our boat for rafting. But we could be sure that it would
not rip it with its sharp claw or to try its tooth on it. What would we do there in
wild taiga without boat? There is neither villages nor roads! For hundred kilometers
FROM THE DAIRY|
We put in to the left bank. And, to our general joy, the sun shined so brightly
that we could hide only under the trees! Our journey seemed to come to the end.
Lena River became wider, began to wind in a wide plain. Soon, we'll rich the first
village on our way.
Sauna, talks, memories during the evening supper: It's strange
but nobody remembered difficulties, danger and unpleasant events of our journey.
So, the journey was good.
Based on publications from "Wanderings