I received an update from West this morning. He was unable to check in yesterday because the place they bedded down for the night was entirely remote and he was unable to get a clear signal via the satellite phone. West said the temperature was pretty cold and he did not want to meander around when all was fine. He is pushing the "OK" button on his SPOT tracker to indicate "all is well".
He stated the beginning of the Volga River has been the hardest he has ever slogged through. He said it is extremely thick and it is "beaver crazy" land. Beavers are hard at work, blocking the river in all ways possible. Logs are everywhere across the river and they have been trekking through bogs up to their knees. To anyone that has ever traversed across Alligator Lake in Texas, he said it is much worse the the worst trek across Alligator Lake. His shoulders are holding up great and Jeff is, too. Last night, they did not have their tent with them so they rigged garbage bags across the two kayaks and slept in their sleeping bags under the trash bags. Weather was a little rainy, a little snowy, a little cold but over all not too bad.
Where was their tent, you ask?? Ah, that's another part of the this blog. It so happens, there was this gentleman they met at the actually source of the river. A man by the name of Gennady Suslov (or Геннадий Суслов) was interested in what they were doing. West and Jeff always make friends easily and this case was no exception. Well, Gennady Suslov just so happens to have a hunting cabin farther downriver. He offered to carry some of the extra supplies down to his cabin for the team to pick up downriver, as they were extremely heavy and loaded down. His offer was graciously accepted. The tent, accidently, was sent along. In addition to carrying supplies down river, he offered them the use of his guesthouse to spend the next night, which was where they were at check-in this morning. The баня (banya) or bathhouse was being prepared. West says it's a steam shower-type. While getting cleaned up, the host was having dinner prepared. They were going to feast on deer, duck and rabbit. Their host is a hunter. West described the guest house as very nice and welcoming. It's right on the river. They will stay the night there, and take off first thing in the morning (while we are snug in bed).
On their way to the guesthouse, they had to cross a pond. The pond was frozen but West & Jeff didn't know how frozen it was. They tried to break the ice by putting their paddles through it but it was too thick. Sooo, they were trying to pull their kayaks across. Slow-going. Ultimately, they took their paddles apart, sat in the kayaks, and propelled themselves across the ice by pushing the kayaks across the ice. West said they actually made pretty good time crossing this way. I'd love to see a picture of this. Whne you're following the SPOT tracker, keep in mind it is CST, not Russia time. They are 9 hours ahead of us.
Hopefully, we will get actual pictures soon and I will post as soon as possible. Jason, are you getting your gear ready yet??