SURVIVAL HIKING TRIP

4 days lost in clouds against rains and snow

Kolsky 2020

August

I was hiking in mountains for 4 days. Every evening before I went to sleep I was writing some notes about last day.


Day 1. Mosquitoes chase

I parked my car in a yard of a private house in Lovozero village. It was raining since early morning. Temperature was about 11 Celsium degrees. I put on my backpack, walked out of the village and started looking for a trail over swamps. I meet old woman who showed me the way. I had two different navigation software in my smartphone, but that trail wasn't marked on both of them.

Path through swamps was made long time ago by some kind of allroad vehicle. Now that was two lines disappearing in moss, grass and water. My boots became wet from first few steps. Sometimes my legs was falling down it soft swamp. I was trying to correct my direction with navigation all the time. But when I was stopping a cloud of mosquitoes was surrounding me. So I had to move fast to leave mosquitoes behind. I found out soon that I chose wrong train. Swamp was infinitely large and I had to take a different shorter path. But now there were no other options except going by my trail thru all the swamp.

I was completely wet. Finally I walked to the forrest with short strangely curved nothern trees. And soon I reached a bridge over the Sergevan river. That was my first checkpoint, I was very happy. Behind the bridge new trail was started. It was visible pretty well. Trail thru the pine forest leaded me to hills dotted with large mossy stones. I saw two not steep mountains, I knew that my destination (lake Svetloe) is situated between them.

Rain was over, strong wind started blowing from the mountains. It made my jacket dry.

Finally I walked up to a valley with a large pure cold lake. Wind was stormy strong so I found quiet place down in the ravine. Forecast for tomorrow was predicting winds and heavy showers, so I placed my tent as good as I could. With four ropes stretched to the ground.

I came inside and put off my clothes. My foots and even underwear was wet. I put myself in a sleeping bag and felt warm and comfortable very soon. After a short rest I heated canned meat on a gas-burner. After a good dinner I made a walk on the neighborhood and took a few pictures of a many-many kilometers long valley where I came from and a mountains where I should go tomorrow.

Now I'm lying in my tent and planning next day. Depending on weather I will go through the mountains or I will stay here for a day. Now I see low cloud covering the mountain where I should go. It's not safe looking for a path in a cloud and fog. So tomorrow I will decide what to do.

Day 2. The worst day of my life

Water in my boots, pants, backpack and camera. But let me describe this day in proper order)

I woke up early and at 6 a.m. I was already packed and ready to go. The weather was fine. Some white clouds on the clean blue sky. So I skiped my breakfast and moved forward by the shore.

Following the trail I reached river Svetlaya and passed it by the ford wearing light backup shoes. Then I changed my boots, fell the bottle, got back on the trail, and lost it after a few meters. I was climbing by stones and thru a deep bushes. I was finding the trail a couple of times and loosing it again until I rised up above bushes and trees. I saw a great view looking back to the lake I was sleeping at.

I continued walking up and up by moses and stones. I guess I had saw a hundred kinds of moses today)

There was no trail on stones, just direction. I was cheking navigation time after time.

And then above the far mountains some clouds appeared. Grey, angry, moving fast with a strong wind. In a couple of hours clouds reached me with a cold disgusting rain.

I covered my DSLR camera in a plastic bag and moved forward choosing some big stones as a waypoints.

I made a decision to go to the nearest path to stream canyon that should provide me down from the plateau to my destination - Seidozero. "Ozero" in russian means "lake" and "Seid" in a language of natives means "magic stone". That lake is surrounded by a chain of flat mountains. It looks like Seidozero lying in the middle of giant letter "C".

Rain was getting stronger. I was lucky because the wind was blowing in my back, so I was wet from behind and almost dry from front. Sooner or later I found a place on the plateau where the stream was starting his way down from two snow areas between thousands of black sharp rocks. I chose the left side and start carefully going down helping myself with a couple of hiking sticks.

Suddenly I found out that walls of canyon were getting steeper and the stream was running far down from me. And I had to find my way down to the stream. Twice carefully I was making my steps by wet stones. Nobody could find me here in case of accident. And then clouds decided to drop snow on me.

When I was a child mother told me: if your feet will be wet you will catch cold. When I started hiking on the north it was hard to understand that wet legs are normal. If it's raining water will make wet even expensive boots. And it's not a problem when you're moving, it's not cold. You should deal with it.

But I can't deal with snow in August! Cold water was everywhere, wind was blowing hard. I was out of power.

Then I saw a small shelter! Lost here in the wild in two days walking from nearest village. May be it was built by geologists to keep their tools. I could change my clothes and made some hot food! But the shelter was on the other side of the stream. I should spent too many time to get there... And I decided to continue my way down.

I checked my smartphone and camera in plastic bag and found water inside. I was angry and disappointed. But I had no other choices but going forward. I was so tired. And one stupid song in my head: "Raindrops keep falling on my head..."

Naked rocks changed to moses, grass, bushes, trees. Old relict wood at mystic Seidozero lake. I had found a trail. While I was making my long way through the forest rain was ended. I was so happy!

Why are we going hiking? I guess for that moments when you understand that you handled all that hardcore way. And you happy proving yourself that you can deal with all disasters.

But hardcore wasn't finished for today) Rain started again and the trail became swampy. But now I was sure that I could handle it.

Swamp with soft ground, valley full of berries and mushrooms, deep frod. At the frod I met first people since I left Lovozero village. They were a couple of tourists from Moscow. We had small talk about our routes. And they told me about good camping place not far from there.

Rain was over for a while and I did my best in fast tent mounting.

I couldn't getting warm almost an hour! But then I made hot chocolate on my gas-burner right inside the tent. And now I'm making plans for tomorrow and writing that letter.

I had last dry socks and underwear. My smartphone and camera are working. Strong wind outside is trying to destroy my tent. Let's see what will happen tomorrow!

Day 3. Disaster

I woke up at 7 o'clock, ready to go at 8.

The plan was to hike up from lake to the mountains and go to the exit point for 3 days. Or in 2 days if I will be lucky.

During very long way up by a canyon of stream Chirvuai I saw all types of nature: old tall trees at the lake, then small curved nothern trees, then bushes, stones with moss and finally naked sharp rock.

Of course rain was following me. It was very hard to climb up, but I was prepared by previous day.

I met a group of tourists, most of them was very young, high school students may be. They can climb under heavy showers, so why can't I?

My smartphone has basic water resistant, so I can use it carefully. But temperature was very low and completely charged phone began showing "out of power" warning. I stopped track recording.

Up on the plateau I chose direction and continued my hike. And then cloud with snow had came. Not with wet rainy snow like yesterday, but with heavy cold snow and strong wind.

I was ready for that too.

I was walking through the desert of stones under the snowy storm.

Time after time checking my direction by smartphone navigation I reached the top of first mountain. Mountains here are not very high, all ~1000+ meters above the sea level. I chose next checkpoint and continued walking.

I scratched my feet when I made miss step and damaged hiking stick a little.

I had a direction and moved that way. Then clouds were disappeared for a moment and I saw a great beautiful lake far away. But there shouldn't be that lake! I chose wrong direction. That was awful. I spent some time to find out where I am. I could be lost for real. That was scary for a moment. Without paper map (I forgot it at home) with 10% power smartphone.

I made a curve and found my way.

I was walking very long time, 10 hours since I left my previous camp. Rain and snow was following me with short periods of sun between clouds.

Clouds was so close, they were right above my head. One of clouds flew through me, I was in a heavy fog for a few minutes.

I was out of dry clothes so I had only option to complete my route to the exit point in 2 days with one last night in a tent.

I walked while I had strength and finally I found a peace of flat moss. I placed my tent in a period when it was not rainy.

Next problem was frost. I couldn't stop shaking and freezing. My sleeping bag designed for temperature under 0 Celsium degrees but it is not enough. Now I'm writing this text and I really cold. I guess it's snow outside but I don't want to come out and check. I have an emergency blanket and it let me not to freeze.

That was really hard day. But I had to write about it right now.

I know the route for next day. I should cover long distance, but that's my only option. Good night

Day 4. Snow sence

I broke my rule and writing this message on the next day. I'm in the wood now near highway driving halfway home. Yesterday was awesome! I will remember this adventure forever.

I woke up at 3 a.m. I was covered by metalised (foil) emergency blanket above sleeping bag. It was getting lighter because of sunrise outside the tent. Raindrops was on a tent, clouds was lying on a surrounding mountain and on the plateau where I was sleeping. I had packed my stuff for a last time, put on wet boots. I should cover equal distance as day before to come out.

I climbed up to the path between nearest mountains. Clouds was on my left and on the right I saw a beautiful Seidozero far down in the valley with a first sunshine.

I was moving around big mountain Sengischorr by giant stones. I had a whole day ahead and I was shure about successful coming back.

I was planning to find a trail marked on navigator. And suddenly I walked right on it. It was a path made long time ago by geologists with heavy bulldozers.

It is very hard when you are moving by a hills of big sharp stones knowing just direction. You have to climb on each stone (average size of them - 0.5 - 1 meter). You can lost your direction and cover additional distance to find right way. But when you on a path everything is much easier! Huge stones are moved aside, no climbing up and down. I was literally boosted up.

I had found the path right on time because one cloud swimed over a mountain and moved on me. Visibility was rapidly limited to 100 meters.

I was slowly raising up and temperature was falling down. I was wondering looking at a snow on stones. Yesterday snow was melted immediately after reaching ground.

Up and up and here snow was everywhere around. My gloves was in water since yesterday so I couldn't put them on. My hands was freezing. But wind was pretty weak so it wasn't a big problem yet.

Step by step I reached the highest point of that mountain system - Angvundaschor peak. That was a big black rock in a cloudy fog. I saw a beautiful pictures made from here, but now I could see just 100-150 meters around.

Phone showed another "low battery" warning and switched off. I was alone on the road surrounded by stones and snow and fog. That was mystically amazing!

I moved forward in a cold cloud. I came to beautiful circus. That's a half-circle wall a few hundred meters tall. The view from here is spectacular, but I was still in a cloud)

I started loosing altitude. The path became to road without big stones. I was going down and down.

It was getting little warmer. View distance was increased.

And finally I saw an insanely beautiful view on many kilometers around. Infinite lakes, woods and far-far away - the small miners city Revda I was walking to. It was lighted by sun.

I was looking on it all my long way down until I came to mines factory.

I was moving for 7 hours since 3:30.

I met just one person for two days up in the mountains. That was a young woman hiking up alone. We had a little conversation and sharing some advices about our routes.

From mine factory I made my phone alive with power bank and call for taxy. Small Daewoo Matiz came to me with old lady driver. She drove me to the place where I left my car 4 days ago. She was wondering why I not afraid of bears hiking alone. One bear came to their city last spring looking for a food in a trash.

I was so happy unpacking my stuff and changing clothes at my car!

After a week of rains sunny weather comes to the North.

The last part

I call it "survivors mistake". We saw just a beautiful photos with spectacular views of mountains. But that photos was taken when the sun comes between long periods of bad weather. Not much photographers taking pictures while they are in a stormy clouds. But angry weather is a part of those regions and we should deal with that coming here as a guests.

I'm going to the mountains not to rest, but to make a challenge, make a sport competition with myself.

Sorry for pathetic words. Thank you for reading!