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Published: October 5th 2012
Ever wanted to know how to hitch hike with a helicopter?
The following is a brief how to guide:
1. Walk 40 kilometers through a national park, preferably somewhere remote like one of the national parks in Kamchatka.
For this story we will use a real life example being the Nalcheyvo National Park.
2. The walk should be done at full pace so that at least part of your team is left exhausted with an injury preferably incurred along the way. We walked about 2 days with 17km covered during the first day and 23km during the second.
Total injuries incurred = 1.
3. The injured person should then proceed to use the positive energies of the universe to summon the helicopter. Our injured person being Natasha, did just that.
The story like a few others took place one fine sunny day, in the green land of Kamchatka in the city of Petropavlvsk (which is quite rare as Petropavlvsk is often grey, rainy and overcast more like south New Zealand or northern Scotland).
Having met Natasha earlier and convinced her into joining us we set off for Nalcheyvo national
park. Into the park we met one of the national parks rangers who insisted that we join him for fresh milk and tea once we returned from the national park. Nalcheyvo is a beautiful park to hike through. Birch trees greet you along the way. Flowers and foliage grows higher the your head, and the views as you hike over the mountains are breath taking. Snow remains on parts of your trail even during the peaks of summer. Often you will meet wild суслик (syslicks something like a big squirrel) and bears. If your lucky you'll get to see a lynx and a wolf also.
There were many times when I nearly cried in Kamchatka because the nature is so beautiful and wild there. You have to be careful also whilst hiking. Some of the big wild flowers are also full of sap that causes third degree burns if it comes in contact with your skin and direct sunlight.
As I write this over 2 months post the hike through Nalchevyo, my arms continue to bear reminders of the trip. Bears are abundant in the national park and to be safe it's a good idea to carry large
firecrackers and make noise whilst hiking. Some locals advise to carry a gun it's not really essential. The bears are more scared of you then you are of them!
When speaking with the parks ranger he told us a story how a Russian tourist set off into the national park at night to make up lost time. She only had a cheap torch with her and couldn't see much of the ground underneath her. About 3 hours into the hike she managed to stumble into a sleeping bear. Fortunately for her the bear was not angry, more scared then anything and took off one way whilst she ran the other.
During the night we met a young guy from Smolensk who was only 18 and had hitch hiked his way around the 5 famous volcanos surrounding Petropavlvsk, sleeping mainly in his tent. He went mostly every where without a map and was so good that local provodniks or guides (who had with them gps systems) wanted the boy to join their tours done would guide them.
On the second day the hike took a wrong turn for Natasha, who managed to underestimate the size of the river
bank laced with roots and twisted her leg whilst jumping over it. By the time we arrived at the second campsite, it was late, the travelers where weary and the injured were completely disgruntled from continuing further. The plan was to through hike to Avachinsky Volcano and then ascend the volcano. "Your hiking the wrong way. You should have started with Avachinsky.
It's crazy ascending the volcano at the end of your journey." Casha or Alexander a local Kamchat man informed us. "You won't make it without a GPS system of some sort." Yoshik added. After a lot of convincing and debating it became clear that the only way we were going to make it out of Nalcheyvo was by walking back the way we came...
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