No bear snoring but howling winds and rain. Did you ever sleep in a one man tent during rain and howling wind? It’s not something I would recommend. The fabric of the tent kept on making noise as the wind and rain hit it. Some of the support staff stayed up all night making sure that our tents did not blow away and get unhinged from the ground. They would also put more black sand around our tents. I cannot say enough of the support staff and the work they do handling our needs and wants. The situation is so primitive that it makes it harder for both them and us. They all are true angels.
We awoke at 4:30 for our morning shoot. I got up by myself at about 4 after struggling with my tent and the conditions. Had some coffee and off we went in the Kamaz.
All morning we drove around to some truly unbelievable locations and opportunities. Vladimir is a real pro. His eye is amazing. He took us to locations where we just stared and I used my imagination and creativity to capture some great images. The question that keeps on going around my mind is how much I will endure to be put in situations like this.
We returned at about 8 for a great breakfast of pancakes, eggs, porridge and other assorted goodies. Natalia, the chef, is a true magician.
After breakfast most of us went for naps but I stayed up because I was excited to see what I had. I first copied all my images to two external drives for safety. I always do this every night but this was the first time on this trip. I then imported the images to Lightroom and started to go through them. I am impressed by what I had captured and I had only gone through about twenty percent. I strive to take images that tell a story and I believe I got some good ones from this haunting and remote location.
I have been trying to hold it in, but finally had to surrender to nature. Took a hike and found some nice size lava boulders and made my mark. I then walked back to the dining room and asked Dmiitry if he would set up a shower for me. Dmitry cannot do enough for you. He and his helpers heated up a canister of water and in I went to the shower tent. What little water I had was hot and felt so good and refreshing.
After lunch we all sat around and I continued working on my images. Both Vladimir and Kevin looked at some of my work and both gave suggestions and comments. Vladimir is an amazing photographer who can pick out a scene and Kevin is a professional photographer who I first met through Instagram. Kevin and myself have been having a great time kidding each other about the situation. Kevin has been filling in for Andy and doing a great job under such trying conditions.
At about 4 PM we all boarded our Kamaz for a ride to a hike up a volcano to its crater. One thing I noticed immediately, was that lots of people were arriving and setting up their tents. Why would someone want to come here under the current facilities is something I do not understand. We drove to the start of the hike up the volcano to the crater. The trail went straight up. The fog and mist had rolled in so we decided to wait and see if it lifted. If not, we would leave. We have another hike next week to another crater. I really want to do this and take pictures of the crater of a volcano. The fog never lifted and we decided to go back to the Camp. By this time more people had arrived and our tents were surrounded by lots of others. The one thought in my mind was that the chances of someone snoring had greatly increased.
Natalia, of course, made us a fabulous dinner out of these primitive working conditions. By ten I had decided to crawl into my tent and try to get some sleep. I was right. The snoring was back with a vengeance and two girls were talking in Russian near my tent. I tossed and turned hoping that this horrible situation would end. I had started an hourly countdown at 8 PM knowing that we were leaving by 8 the following morning. I finally fell asleep from exhaustion and woke up at 4 AM. I decided I had enough and made my way to the dining room. Made some coffee and just starred into space.
At 5 Vladimir, Dmiitry and Natalia arrived. Natalia started to prepare breakfast and both Vladimir and Dmitry had some coffee with me. I wanted to take a nap but decided I could not tolerate the situation anymore and stayed put. At 7 breakfast was served. I can state I will really miss Natalia’s porridge when this trip is over. Magnificent is an understatement.
We finally boarded our Kamaz for the trip back. This was the moment I had been waiting for and then it happened. All hell broke loose in my stomach. I guess Natalia’s porridge had done its damage. I ran out of the Kamaz, grabbed some toilet paper and found a nice cozy place on the side of the volcano. How many people can say they did this on the side of an active volcano? An experience I will never forget.
I then boarded the Kamaz for the twelve hour trip back to our hotel in Petropavlovsk. What can I say about my five nights of camping and specifically the last three nights in this horrible place? I can say I survived and endured. At 70, I was able to put all my comforts aside and deal with the situation at hand.
Our Kamaz then started the long journey back through mud roads and forests full of mosquitos. We bounced up and down as we got closer to civilization. Out first stop was in a dry river bed. The mosquitos attacked us. The second stop was back at the same restaurant we had lunch in coming here. The food was still horrible and uneatable. How I yearned for a bed and hot shower.
We finally arrived back at the hotel at 9 PM. What a ridiculous journey.
I immediately asked for a large double bed, shaved and took a nice long hot shower.
Tomorrow we travel to Southern Kamchatka to take pictures of the brown bears. We will be spending two nights in a permanent camp. Our helicopter takes off at 9 AM. What an adventure. I hope I survive