Monday, August 8
Today 521 km, Total 4303 km
The Boys with their toys, no tree was safe!!
Today was the day we were leaving the river and heading home, I was hoping for and early departure so that I could get the evening flight to Vladivostok, it was not to be. We got up had breakfast and the guides called in and we were told that the chopper would arrive at about 10:40, all was looking good. We packed our bags and packed up the camp and then to kill time the guides allows us all to have a shot from their guns, however to do the they made us all wear a funny russian hat, the bushes in the middle of the river stood no chance. After the bushes and river had been thoroughly shot up we packed the guns away and waited for the Chopper.
At almost exactly 10:40 a helicopter was heard then sighted coming down the river, we all took our position on the river bank with the luggage between us and the landing area and then squatted down. The helicopter was coming down the river and passed by us by about 50m, we were expecting that it would pass us then turn round and land into the wind. But it just kept going, it didn’t slow it didn’t turn it just kept going down river. There were lots of confused looks and WTF is going on discussion, after 5 minutes the head guide tried to ring Anatole again, no answer, that most likely meant that he was in the air and on his way. The helicopter did not return and we never found out what it was doing, other than the fishing operation it was the only sigh of human life that we had seen for the entire trip.
We waited another hour and a half ish and finally a different helicopter arrived. Anatole emerged from it with cold beer, Bliss!!! So we stood arround and had a well deserved cold beer while the guides packed the helicopter with the entire camp and rafts and luggage. Once that was done we all boarded the helicopter and we were on our way!!
Packing the Helicopter
But not for far, the helicopter took off, gained 5 to 10m, turned round 180° the flew about 50m then descended to about 1m and the load master opened the door and jumped out and then gave the pilot directions backward and forward, up and down for a couple of minutes until we landed again. At that point with the rotors still under light load the seven fishermen (including me) and one guide, one dog, a couple of bags and a box of beer were unceremoniously off loaded and then the helicopter departed with out us. Apparently it was overloaded and would be back in about the time it would take us to drink the beer.
Tom, flat-out working, waiting for the helicopter to return.
So with the conversation revolving round how we would fashion a hunting speer using just the trees around us and a beer tin, we set to work to drink the beer (just to ensure we had some aluminum to make the tip of the hunting spear). After each of us had a couple of beers the helicopter duly returned minus the wilderness camp crew, equipment and supplies for the coming week. We boarded it and flew to the Sedanka Lower camp to pick up the other fishing party and the Sedanka guides and equipment.
Me lying on the rafts near the back of the helicopter and the Sedanka guides having a beer in the very back of the Helicopter
We arrived at the lower camp and said our hello’s to the other group and the guides, and the helicopter was loaded and we boarded. The helicopter went to take off just got in the air and then landed again. I was thinking “shit not again, we will run out of beer shortly”, however it was a balance issue and we just need to move some weight further back in the helicopter. So the back doors were opened and some of the guides climbed into the back of the helicopter and the doors were closed again and securely fastened with their piece of string!!! I and a couple of others crawled towards the back of the helicopter and lay on top of the rafts and other equipment. This time the helicopter got airborne and I flew the entire trip from the lower to upper Sedanka camp in this position.
We made it to the Upper Sedanka camp and off-loaded the equipment, supplies and guides, picked up a guide and a Korean outfitter who were hosting the group that would be fishing the following week. Then it was up up and away, no problems taking off this time, we were heading to a different refueling heliport near Esso.
Lined up at the bathroom at Esso
Once we crossed the mountain range the weather closed in some what and there wasn’t a huge ceiling between the mountains and the cloud base, however we made good progress and soon we were at the heliport in Esso refueling. Buy the time we made it to Esso it was certain that I would not make the flight to Vladivostok. Lucky I had reservations for a room at Martha’s and flights for the following days.
Tired bodies on the last leg back to Petropavlosk-Kamchatskiy
The final leg from Esso to Petropavlosk-Kamchatskiy took almost 2 hours, there was not all that much chatter, we were all tried and most of us slept during the flight. once we were on the ground we were transferred by bus back to the airport where we said our good bys to the americans and Oystein, Bob, Gene and myself continued on to Martha’s for a warm shower and Bed!!!!