Thursday 8 May 2014

Setting Up

By tradition the journey for our team into Varzuga from Murmansk starts at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night with a glass of Russian champagne, served I fear in a plastic pic-nic mug. Always a great re-union and made more memorable by the surreal, chilly, windy car-park setting. Tiffy and I came out on 1st May to complete the supply lists and load up the lorry bound for the village, and thence out to the airport for the above ceremony.

We normally stop for a few hours sleep at Umba and then head on down the road to Varzuga village. With the river still frozen this year, and after a long journey, we used the skidoos to ferry all the bags and kit in and stretched our legs over the crisp snow down the river bank to camp under a bitter but bright sky.

Maryke and Glenn and their containers
There was more snow on the ground than I expected, and after the warm spell of mid April much of it is now rock hard and semi-ice rather than snow. Getting into our containers is always a top priority and a certain amount of digging and cursing was required.

On Tuesday we moved the rest of the stores down from the village to camp, again on sledges behind skidoos. Tiffy, Donna and Maryke then set about dividing a season’s worth of supplies between the four camps while Bill and Terry sorted out the boxes of new waders, boots and jackets for the guides, kindly supplied by Colin Thomas at Airflo.
Dividing up the stores
By last night all was pretty well boxed up, labelled and ready for dispatch and a well deserved party was had; all seem a bit slower this morning and I suspect it is self-help for breakfast.
Donna and Tiffy off to the village
Yesterday was grey and cold, the air temperature hardly got to 0⁰C and apart from the odd bit of ice breaking off there was no change in the river to report. A good day to be inside doing ‘admin’. Without any sun the drips from the melting snow off the roof were almost non-existent. The only hint of things to come were the two ravens who nest opposite here at Lower Camp, they arrived in the morning and flew up and down the river croaking in that unmistakable way so reminiscent of wild places. Good to see them again, as always they arrive almost to the day every year whatever the conditions. Below is a photo taken this morning of the rapids right outside the office, ice stuck everywhere in the shrunken river.

Sobocci Rapids this morning
The forecast continues to predict an end to this freeze at the weekend. I’ll update you tomorrow and, with much work done, I suspect Bill and Terry will get a chance to fish in the limited clear water we have.

Christopher Robinson