Day 83. May 23. Kuz’minka to Shlissel’burg. 21.9 km, 5.9 km/hr average speed.
First: Since the chronicler was a bit distracted by mosquitoes last night one incident worth mention fell out.
Just after we had passed the Ivanskoye rapids we saw a small road/ramp and went in for a break. There are a few of these ramps around, we think it is for public access to the river, including with the small craft for fishing that are numerous on the river.
Anyway, at this particular ramp we met a mother and her daughter. The mother explained that there was a small shop nearby and showed us the way. Indeed a shop and indeed small. Jelena tended the shop. We bought a couple of yogurts and Coca-Cola. One could tell by the selection of goods that this was a marginal business.
Like in Akrosund and Bjurs. Perhaps only 10 km from the last big new housing developments we had seen in St Petersburg. When we left Jelena her brother (?) Dima, his wife Jana and their son Roman waved us off. We cannot help but wonder how they will cope with changes ahead.
Back to day 83. It turns out yr.no is a bit less accurate over here. We were surprised by rain during the night and into the morning. We have been on the move for 83 days and we still have not broken camp in serious rain. So we decided to sleep in till 9. With success, the rain ended and we broke camp and ate breakfast in dry if overcast weather.
We were on the water shortly after 11, and it turned out Erling’s theory of slower flowing water upstream had been thrown out as nonsense prematurely. This last third of Neva really do flow slower and we paddled almost one km/hr faster with less effort.
The landscape is perhaps best described as industrialized countryside. We passed three shipyards one military and two civilian, a papermill and various smaller industries.
Our first stop turned out to be at a memorial site for a major WW2 battle. As we walked to the memorial, we met a busload of elderly people visiting and paying homage. Our parents’ generation. Too young to have taken part but old enough to have been made fatherless.
We were at one of the bloodiest battlefields of WW2. What is known as the “Bridge head of Neva”, where Russian troops crossed Neva to try to break the siege of Leningrad. On this small piece of pock marked land (800×3000 meters) 260 000 soldiers died in 1941 to 1943. Put another way, the whole area could have been covered with corpses, each occupying an area not much larger than the size of the footprint of our tent.
Food for thought, as we paddled on.
We took one more stop at small riverside park in Kirovsk, then paddled into Shlissel’burg, where we managed to find the small yacht club behind the ship yard. We were met by Jura and Vlad, who allowed us to store the kayaks and pitch the tent. Vlad wanted reassurance that we would leave after breakfast. And that is according to plan, so no problem.
This evening we went for a walk in Shlissel’burg to see the city and buy some supplies. It is a summer night and lots of people were out walking or fishing. The part of the city we saw is dominated by Khrustsjov Era apartment blocks. In between are some new grand mansions and a few pittoresque pre-war wooden buildings, not so well maintained. We also saw some steel welded boat houses. Made at the yard presumably and then lifted or floated on barges to their places.
Tomorrow we will paddle first to the fortified island, which is supposedly the Viking’s first stronghold in Russia. Many of battles ago. Then we will continue along Catherine the Great’s Canal as far as we get. It is four to five days paddling before we get to the river Svir.