This is the first descent of Europe’s longest river by kayak from the source in the Valdai Hills northwest of Moscow to the river’s delta at the Caspian Sea. The Volga traverses 2300 miles (3700 km) through western Russia’s most beautiful countryside with some of the richest history known to man.
TOTAL MILES TO DATE: 2130.09
TOTAL DAYS: 59
MILES COUNTDOWN: 0.00
May 6, 2014
An update from West: We made the call this morning to stay another night after checking the weather report and assessing the need for a rest day. I'm having some serious shin splints, which is causing a lot of problems just walking. This is strange, since shin splints are usually associated with running too far/fast when not in shape. Jeff and I figured they're caused by the amount of pressure I'm pushing on the foot braces against the high wind/waves. Tough to tell, exactly, what's causing the shin splints, but they are very painful and debilitating. If any paddlers have any insight into this phenomenon, I'd really appreciate hearing from them. I know the old fix for it: RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), but don't have time for any of that. They feel much better in the mornings, after resting all night, but by mid day, if I walk, they are back with a vengeance. Weird.
The weather was cold/windy in Nizhny as Jeff and I grabbed a ride from Misha (Milchail Orekhov), who drove us around Nizhny and gave us a great education on the ancient town and current perspective on Russian politics. He drove a really cool diesel powered BMW sports car which he acquired in Germany. Misha swears by BMW's over all other cars. His father is a mechanic and passed on his knowledge to Misha.
Misha also took us to a local mall to pick up some gear lost during the initial trek over the beaver dams on the Volga and Jeff's swim above the Gorky Reservoir. We spent the remainder of the time around Gorky Square in Nizhny, eating at the McDonald's (again), drinking coffee at a quaint little dive and checking out the premenade in from of the kremlin of the oblast, which is the Russian word for "capital" and not a specific site in Moscow. "Oblast" is the word for region, akin to "state" in the USA.
Towards the day's end, Olga (Anton's wife) called us to let us know that Anton was bringing his van to the hotel to stay for the night (the van, not Anton). They were concerned about the safety of our Epics, just sitting on the ground in the parking lot all night, so Anton came and heaved the kayaks up on his roof racks and took the bus back home. We plan to depart by about 7:30 a.m. tomorrow. It was so nice of Olga and Anton to consider us and the safety of our kayaks. Sposibo, to both of them.
At the hotel, we're being well care for by Olga and Lyoba at the front desk. In Russia, it's not as easy as just getting a visa to travel in their country for a designated period of time (90 days, in our case). A visa holder must register with the government once they land, then continue to register whenever they check into any hotels during their stay in the country. I suppose the government wants to keep an eye on us, or something. We never encountered this in Peru, Columbia or Brasil and the USA doesn't do this, but when in Russia...
So, Olga and Lyoba, very patiently and politely went to great lengths to help us get the registration papers we originally acquired, but didn't download and talked with the company we used to make sure we were up to snuff on all our documentation. They've been a great help.
The McDonald's near the kremlin wasn't like any we'd ever seen. Apparently, it's the hip/chic place to have lunch and hang out, while local hip/chic coffee shops are fairly empty. Strange, seeing as the chow is about the same as in the USA.
We're hitting the sack in hopes that tomorrow will bring good weather, because we're back on the Volga come what may. Thanks for all the support, here in Russia and back in the, back in the, back in the USA.
Additionally, Jeff said Misha was very nice and helpful. Instead of purchasing an IPhone charger for West's regular phone, Misha charged it with his charger. Jeff also told of the boys going shopping for some food supplies. West was going to video their shopping experience but, immediately upon entering the store, the employees waved the camera away, indicating videos are not allowed. West and Jeff split up during the shopping trip and, because West had a camera, he was followed around by a few store employees to ensure pictures weren't taken. When they met up back at the register, Jeff said they couldn't get out of the store fast enough, for the employees. Everyone was polite, just not allowing pictures.