Day 85 – Of course they could open the bridge! Get in the baidarkas! – 25 May

Day 85. 25th of May. Kobana Dybna. 41 km, 7.0 km/hr average speed.

We had a late but pleasant breakfast at the hotel. All in all the stay including dinner and breakfast, set us back 4000 roubles. That was value for money!

The hotel is located next to a war memorial, commemorating the ice-road over Ladoga that supplied Leningrad during the 900-day siege. Eventually even a floating railway was built. Before we left Sergey took us to see the museum that is attached to the hotel. It contains vehicles that Sergey and others have rescued from the lake. Basically they dive down along the path of the ice-road and salvage wrecked vehicles and even parts of planes. The vehicles are then restored to fully operational by Sergey and others in a dedicated garage. Quite impressive effort.

Again we had more or less stumbled across not only a site at which history of global dimensions unfolded, but also people dedicated to preserving and documenting it. Short on means, but long on competence, creativity and dedication.

We got in the boats at 1020 and made very good speed toward the next village about 20 km away. There Vladimir Ivankiv had informed us that there were a pontoon bridge that opened at set hours, one time being 1300, which we aimed for.

We got to the village at about 1230, only to find that an inflatable boat was turning back from the bridge and that the brigde itself was too low for us even to get the unloaded boats under. OK. We decided to go onshore and walk the 30 meters to the local shop to see if we could by some lunch there.

Again it was a very basic shop. A young couple and their two kids were outside and the man offered us to taste cows milk directly from the farm. As we went into the shop to find something to drink from, someone shouted: “fra Norge? Goddagen!”. It was Edward from Murmansk! He was a bus driver and down at this village for work.

Between Norwegian, Russian and English we managed to taste the milk and to buy some things for lunch. Including ice-cream. Stein also bought for the two kids. They were very happy. So we sat down near the bridge for lunch and waited for 1300. 1300 hundred came and went and no action on the bridge. Eventually an elderly lady explained us in insistent Russian, that the bridge only opened when the boat from St Petersburg came to pass.

We had been two days on the Canal and had not seen a boat to fit that description going either way. We had a leisurely lunch and waited, but no boat.

Now we started to prepare alternatives. Actually lifting the boats was no big deal. As the villagers understood what we were planning (and as word had spread that we came from Oslo and were going to Bela More), they came to our rescue. Of course they could open the bridge! Get in the baidarkas!

And so we did, and we were soon on the other side of the pontoon bridge. Long straight stretches between lush green walls followed. At some places the ground was very sandy and green walls became a little thinner and pines dominated. Relatively open, dry areas perfect to pitch the tent. But too early. At least we knew that such places existed and what to hope and look for.

After about 35 km we started looking. Marsh land and dense green walls were all we found. We decided to paddle to one last village at 41 km. If we found nothing by then we would call it a day and make the best of the first available place to pitch the tent.

The village appeared almost deserted. But finally we saw one person. It was Anatolij. Stein waved and he came down to see what this was all about. He spoke some English and we explained our project, and asked if we maybe could pitch the tent at the bank of the Canal outside his fence?

He answered in english/russian that “palaky” was OK, but maybe we would like to stay in “Dom”? It turned out the house beside his was his project also. Datcha for his son we believe. Anyway, we were shown in and left to get arranged.

Anatolij came in after a little while and asked if we wanted fish for dinner. We said yes and he came with a large carp(?), of some sort which we duly prepared and ate for dinner. A nice change from our normal field meals.

This is so remote that there is no cell phone coverage of any sort. So we just sent an all is well message on satellite connection.

We guess we can expect more of this later. But not tomorrow, then we will try to find a hotel in Siasstroj, before our last leg to the river Svir the day after tomorrow.

After this was written and we had gone to sleep, Anatoly and his step son Arsenij, came back to have a light night chat. Bringing Russian style “white wine and salad”. No time to write now, part two from Dybna will follow tonight (no drama:-)).

Updated May 26, 2140

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