Saturday 20 May 2017

A new scene

Yesterday was not the sunny day we expected. After the fog and mist it never really got above 5 degrees but the section that had cracked above camp came down to join us which was jolly exciting.

Our vista yesterday whilst the big flow happened
 The river rose by 3 feet very quickly but what had broken above just rafted up in front of our lodge.

In the kitchen Lucy, Iona and Donna created a mushroom feast as well as delicious sushi. Being catered for by 3 chefs is a real treat and they have really looked after us during some tough times this week.

Lower rooms are ready
This morning the river appears to be flowing and whilst we are confined to what we can see in front of us it appears the river is making it's move. Lets hope the same can be said all the way up river.

Appears to be flowing well
More detail tomorrow.

Jack Selby

Friday 19 May 2017

Hive of activity

This morning was very foggy early. It's now cleared and there is a gap to the far bank snow line. Nothing big but it has certainly made a visual difference.

This morning with 4" rise
Yesterday was sunny and at times warm which can only help. There was much activity from the Russian team, helicopters and fan boat yesterday. Each time the fan boat came through more ice was dislodged.

Heli activity was high yesterday
Our Russian partners varnished all the windows and doors which was a good job done whilst the sun was available to dry it.

Fan Boat visit
Below camp the ice looks to be thinning and a long thin flow of water has formed where ice, pushed under the main mass, has escaped.

Beginning to get thin below the camp
Bill and I think that the river has risen about 4 inches over night which will help push the chunks on down the river. More tomorrow.

Jack Selby

Thursday 18 May 2017

A bit of rain

Today is warmer. Yesterday was over cast and it rained. Not heavily but for a few hours which has certainly had an effect on the thinner snow and ice.

A little wider each day
The river in front of us is again a little wider and there are areas along the sides that are getting thinner fast.

Kashkarantsy Lighthouse
Painted up for the summer
 We managed to get out to the sea yesterday which was certainly more interesting than being here. We drove to Kashkarantsy and walked out to the light house. The only being we saw was a small puppy which seemed very pleased to see us.

Iona made a fury friend
Fingers crossed a bigger change tomorrow.

Jack Selby

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Little by little

Yesterday was again sunny and it's making a noticeable difference to the landscape here. Many of the little streams are flowing again and the far bank is less and less white.

Snow is melting slowly
Some chunks of Ice have gathered at the bottom of the open stretch in front of the lodge. Today is cold and overcast but forecast is better in the next couple of days.

Deeper and softer behind the camp
Plans to get out of camp were thwarted by having no one who could actually drive us. We went instead for a walk to see the area behind the camp.

Beautifully sunny day
On our walk above camp we did see quite a substantial crack across the snow covered ice which is good news. We just have to assume there are many more of these all up through the river system.

Still and clear evening at the lodge
I'll keep an eye on the river and report any changes tomorrow.

Jack Selby

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Sad news

It is with extremely heavy heart that we have to cancel week 2 on the Varzuga system. Whilst the water in front of the lodge appears to grow each day it's not getting it's job done fast enough and putting clients in this situation would be the wrong thing to do. The river up above the village is still solid and whilst it will likely break this week it needs a good 5-6 days to clear itself of ice and drop back to a fishing level.

As with last week, the majority of clients have elected to roll over their fishing to next year (in which case we take care of all of their costs in 2018) or exercise their right to a full refund including fishing, charter, hotel, visa and flights. Everyone here is disappointed and deflated by the news but nature is a powerful adversary and no where more so than in the arctic circle.

Getting there but not quickly enough
This is the first time in 26 years that we have had to cancel the second week of the season and our Russian friends continue to shake their heads as to the spring we have had - truly remarkable and we all hope it is a one off.

We are now regretting having rushed all our jobs earlier in the week. Whilst there are always things to do it's pretty much up together. We are therefore going to try to get someone to drive us out to the coast at Kuzomen for a picnic and a change of scene.

Lucy inspects the church spire production line
Yesterday we headed to the village with "tomatoes" on the shopping list but in truth the shopping list is created to get everyone out and about and doing exercise. In the village we met up with Ivan, one of the young guides from Middle. He was loading up a hovercraft to take equipment up to camp. He greeted us warmly and seemed pretty jolly considering the conditions.

Ivan chats to Donna about middle
Toby managed a bit of sledging on the steep slope from the school which conveniently has a good set of stairs to get you back to the top quickly.

Despite appearance he was really shifting
We finally had a snow ball fight which seemed to centre round the park benches only just now above the snow.

Iona and Lucy look on as Donna fights back
We had a delicious pork dish served up by Iona and then had another laughter filled night. It might just be cabin fever turning us hysterical but I am not able to distinguish this anymore. That said we were all in bed by 10 past 11 so hardly a big party.

A little fly tying last night
More tomorrow when a fly might have had a swim in the river.

Jack Selby

Monday 15 May 2017

Sunny Days

This morning is sunny. Yesterday was quite sunny too but still a little snow managed to fall none the less. It turns out sunny is not a great help as what melts in the day freezes hard by night. What we really need is hot sun by day and clouds by night to contain the heat. But we get what we are given sadly.

It's like star wars here
Sergey came to visit last night. He's an extremely nice guy and guides at Lower. However we got mixed up with a bad crowd and ended up drinking "whiskey" and eating extremely hot mustard. There was arm wrestling which of course I lost and no photos were allowed.

Sergey before the games began
Iona, Lucy and Donna created a delicious beef curry last night. We have been living well here but it was certainly a welcome sight to find a fridge bulging with fresh green veg and herbs yesterday. We have been on a high protein diet supplemented by a little chocolate and crisps for too long.

Fresh and green
Today we will have to head to the village again as whilst we now have a lot of potatoes we seem to be very short of tomatoes. That and it really helps to boost moral. The river is a little wider in front of the lodge today but a lot of the chunks that moved yesterday are now frozen up further down stream. It's certainly different but maybe not better than it was.

A little more open water
It's hard to describe how much like ground hog day this waiting game is but whilst the view is changing in front of us it's certainly not changing fast enough. I have been very fortunate enough to have fished in some lovely and varied places so to say I'm spoiled is an understatement, but here and now all I want is to be able to get a line out and at least swing a fly.

Iona ready to "make someone's day" with a snowball
Jack Selby

Sunday 14 May 2017

Bill returns

Last night was very cold again. Maybe due to the clear sky for much of the night. The soft snow that fell a few days ago is now pretty solid again but as I look out of the office window the little willow and birch tree buds in front of me are definitely getting bigger. It seems nature is more determined to wake up than the river.

Willow buds pushing on regardless
Bill returned from Murmansk with the remains of the supplies as well as Lucy, the chef for Kitza. I think the combination of a number of different connecting flights, a mini sight seeing trip and travelling down to Varzuga in the supply bus had taken it out of here but she joined in the party and mucked in well when the weekly supplies arrived. She's back on form today after a good sleep. No real party emerged last night except for one of our group. However we did play skittles with water bottles and an orange.

Beautiful skies over the Sobacci
The helicopter arrived in camp yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary for the majority of us but Iona was keen to see what the fuss was about. Glenn wisely suggested me go inside in case the down draft on the fresher snow turned us into snow men. Obviously we all ignored him and tried to get a photo as it came down. Sure enough there is little but white on the image and we got plastered in icy snow. The igloo survived however.

I've missed this sight

Using the igloo as a shelter
Today is Sunday so there are only Russian pilots and service crew in camp. We are going to have another trip to the village at some point today as it seems to keep moral high. Hopefully we will get a closer look at the Eagle who visited us yesterday. Excuse the rubbish image but he really kept his distance. Even the drone could not keep up with him sadly.

More zoom needed
The expanse of blue increases gently daily but I'm really hoping for an over night push to clear some serious space. Fingers crossed.

Jack Selby