Tuesday July 26
Petropavlovsk to Sedanka Upper Camp by Mil8 Helicopter
Today 441 km, Total 3689 km
The Day started with Breakfast and meeting my roomie Oystein. Breakfast was up to Martha’s usual delicious standard, Natural yogurt, berry conserve, cured salmon on dark bread, boiled egg and fruit. It is a meal that epitomizes fresh and organic, the yogurt is made from milk from the neighbours cow, the berries and greens from Martha’s garden, locally baked bread and cured salmon. It was a perfect start to the day.
On thing that I was slightly worried about was that I had to share a room or tent and fish with some one I had never met for two weeks, what if he was a pain??? I needn’t have worried, I instantly liked Oystein, we had a very similar outlook on the world and he had a great sence of humour. He was from Norway and was worried about the level of his english, he had nothing worry about.
After Breakfast we were take to PK airport to collect the rest of the group and transfer to the heliport. The area the airport was cayos about 10 fishing groups (60 to 80 people) all with similar gear being drafted into their correct parties on the correct busses with the correct bags. I followed the advice and kept a sharp eye on my bags, no problems there. There were several false starts with people, loosing, finding and re-finding misplace bags, and the issuing of fishing licences to the correct people, but finally we were on the way to the heliport, a 3/4 hour trip including stops. The fly shop was meant to send the fishing flys for Oystein for the trip somehow in all the cayos they were not to be found, this was causing much concern to Oystein, we assured that there would be no problems and that our fishing flys were his fishing flys. He was still a bit upset which was understandable as I would have been in the same situation.
It was at the airport that I began to realise what a special thing fishing in Kamchatka was, there were at least two professional photographers and one of the pre-eminent American fishing writers at the airport, all going fishing and working.
Departure heliport 360°
Once at the airport we were greeted by some of the guiding team and got the first up close and personal look at a Mil8 helicopter which would be our mode of transport to and between the camps and float. I call it a heliport but in reality it was just a grassy paddock with a hut and fuel tanker, I suppose it keeps the landing fees to a minimum.
The Helicopter trip was an experience, a slightly un nerving experience, I just had to keep telling myself they do this all the time. The Mil8 is a huge helicopter, but we there were 15 passengers and 3 crew, a huge pile of luggage and the supplies for 25 people for a week. From the outside it looked like the gear wouldn’t fit in the helicopter let alone the passengers, however they have done this before and it all made it in before the cargo doors were shut and tied up with a piece of string, just for safety!!
We flew for about 1 1/2 hours and landed at the Esso Helipad, once again it was just a grassy filed with a couple of fuel tankers and a hut. Once we landed the air crew set to work to refuel and do some work on the chopper, the water separator was drained, the cowlings came off the motors and we stood arround waiting. The helicopters are flown with a crew of three Pilot, co-pilot/mechanic and load master, the theory is the mechanic always flys with his helicopter as he can fix it where ever it is and most importantly he is unlikely to allow the helicopter to fly if it is un airworthy and he is on it, some comfort!!
Waiting, waiting, lunch, waiting, waiting 3 hrs later the camp hand for the wilderness float arrives with a smile, gear bag and gun!!. Very little explanation was given other than he had got lost in the vodka triangle (like the Bermuda triangle) but don’t worry he is a good man. As soon as he arrive we all boarded and off we went to the Upper Sedanka Camp where we were dropped off.
It was time for proper introductions of the seven of us that would be traveling together for the next 13 days, but wait there were eight of us. This news was relayed to the Russian guides, the reaction was scowl “Fuckety, fuck, fuck, fuck,………… Fuck….. (smile) … Don’t worry this is Russia we have new plan!!!” That was the end of the problem.
So the crew was
Myself, an Aussie, Oystein a Norwegian, Bob an American, Gene an American and the four Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Crew , Tom the host, Brian the photographer (Bryan Gregson Photography), James from Old Souls fishing shop in Cold Springs New York, and finally Alex who is the Colombian internal man of mystery and possible the most interesting person in the world.
It was a rare privilege to spend time with all these people, they all are at or have been at the top of some thing, whether it be work, sport, fishing and or a combination of them. All have lived interesting lives, all are very different in upbringing and backgrounds. This diversity and world of experience allowed us to roll with what ever the trip threw at us and just get on with it (when in doubt fish). This acceptance of each other and what was going on made one of the best groups of people who I have ever traveled with. The same can be said of the Guides and camp staff, they didn’t even complain about my incompetence as an angler (I generally consider myself quite competent angler but compared to the sublime skill of some of the group I was nothing 🙂 ) .
Finally we settled down for a well-earned beer to plan the next day, at this point the Lead Guide, Jordan walked up with two large boxed of fishing flies. They were Oysteins , Jordan had been looking after them since the beginning of the season. Finally we were there and ready to go.