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Ragusha River 26.04.97 - 4.05.97

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            Ragusha River 26.04.97 - 4.05.97
     Date: 24 Jul 1997
     From: Andreev Nikita 
    A story about the trip
    down to the Ragusha River 26.04.97 - 4.05.97
         Dear  friends,  hopefully  modern  technology will develop
    fast and we'll have an opportunity  to  find  more  information
    about  good  hiking  and rafting not only in old reports but on
    World Wide Web also.
         We've wrote the report in English in order to be sure that
    you will not have any problem with encoding. You  can  get  any
    additional  info  from Nikita Andreev at +7 812 3266509 or from
    Mikhail Melnikov at +7 812 5289117. Our e-mail  is ђ
         Attempting  to give support to kayakers looking for
    interesting Spring trips we present you:
    St. Petersburg                                  20-June-97
            General information
         Ragusha  river is located in the south-east of St. Petersburg
    Region, about 300 km from St.  Petersburg. You need  10  -
    11  days  including  one day to get to the river and one day to
    get out of there. We did it in 9 days (7 of them were  active).
         Seasonning  -  it is interesting if you catch a high water
    level otherwise you may have difficulties in the canyon.  (It's
    very possible to get in trouble there at a high water level also
    but it's just what you are looking for!). We  estimated  the
    5-km  canyon  as a IV-V cat. River. Mainly - due to a number of
    hazardous trees' trunks in the fast stream. The  situation  was
    aggravated  by the lack of edges that make mooring rather
    problematic even for an experienced kayaker. Other parts of Ragusha
    do  not represent any problem or danger. Generally speaking the
    river is rather amazing.
         Most  convenient  way  of transportation for a small group
    (we were 6) - mini-van or another  kind  of  motorvehicule  but
    please  keep  in mind that you will need a tractor for the last
    15 - 20 km if you are to start from the lake. The  tractor  can
    be hired easily in Dregly village. If you are going to use your
    own car you probably can leave it for a week in Boksitogorsk.
         If  you  are still interested in more details you can read
    our own story in the attached file c:/ragusha/ragusha.txt
         We  hired  a  mini-van  Ford Transit in St. Petersburg. It
    costed us approx. $300,00 for the round trip. The bus dropped
    us at Dregly village on 26.03.97 and picked us up from the road
    near the Ragusha's confluence into the Vologeba  river  in  the
    morning  of 4.06.97.
         Dregly  village is located on the way from Boksitogorsk to
    Nebolchy. Last 20 km it was a pretty dirty road. It was
    impossible  to  get  to  Lake  Nikulinskoye from this village by any
    transport except for the tractor or helicopter.  We  chose  the
    first one due to availability and reasonable cost (USD 10).
            A guy who drove the "Belarus" tractor  picked  us  up
    about  3  a.m.  (!)  27.06.97.  and we've rushed up to the lake
    through the Snow Land that was lighted up by  cool  and  bright
    moonlight.  It was a real fun to keep your body and a number of
    kayaks, bags and  rucksacks  on  the  frozen  steel-upholstered
    platform  that was hauled by the tractor. Night temperature was
    about minus five and our kayaks and the platform  were  covered
    by  hoar-frost.  We were dropped 5 km before the lake and after
    a short sleep we started our 5-km work towards the issue of Ragusha.
           Polyethylene kayaks were leaded by rope as a sledge. The
    lake was covered with ice and we crossed it  by  foot.  Frankly
    speaking  this  weather situation made us a little bit nervous.
    Fortunately the issue of the river  was  clear  from  ice,  the
    weather was beautiful and next morning we slipped down into the
    river in our boats and started to paddle along the winding
    corridor.  I consider this river as a very good spring drill. It's
    upper part (app. 40 km) runs through the beautiful wild forest.
    For all that there were not so many fallen trees that can block
    your way completely. We had several opportunities to jump  down
    from the dams created by beavers and it delighted us up to
    certain extent.  Even this  part  of  the  trip  ensured  us  that
    polyethylene kayaks have a lot of advantages even on small calm
    rivers. For instance it was no problem to cross a wooden  trunk
    that was coming out of the water for 20 cm using HTP kayak. And
    it was rather problematic to do it in a  collapsible  one.  I'm
    not  talking about damages that may occur with collapsible boat
    after such exercises! Besides this it's  rather  convenient  to
    sit  down  in your boat on the bank and than slip down into the
    water.  In most cases it's possible only for HTP kayaks.
           It's no doubt that the most interesting place for
    kayakers is the 5- km canyon after the road to Rudnaya Gorka crosses
    the  river.  In  several km before the bridge the river becomes
    wide and fast and please be careful after you have  passed  the
    bridge!  The banks come closer to each other and the canyon
    begins immediately. The first rapid is on the first (right) band.
    Here we stayed overnight.
         After reconnaissance of the next two rapids has been made,
    the two participants decided to carry their boats over  to  the
    end  of canyon (it means to the confluence of Ragusha and
    Vologeba) next day. It was right decision - it's downright - but no
    one  thought  at  that  moment that we would meet them tomorrow
    evening only!
         Our  trouble  was  that  we absolutely underestimated this
    canyon.  We have never expected real 4 - 5 cat.  water  in  St.
    Petersburg  region.   It  was  a  flood, there were quite a few
    edges along these 4-5 km, a lot of unexpected fallen trees  and
    rather  fast  current. There were three rapids where the
    reconnaissance has been required to find the best way on  the  water
    (in  fact I remember one or two significant holes only). In all
    other parts of the canyon the reconnaissance has been  strictly
    required  to  find a way between (or over) the fallen trees. We
    are not going to give a detailed description of the rapids
    because  the  picture  is  quite dependent on the water level. In
    Summer there is no water at all - just a plain and firm  ground
    (in  Summer the water in the canyon goes under the ground. It's
    amazing!). Due to the lack of  edges  in  many  cases  we  were
    forced to arrange emergency mooring for the kayaks(!!).
         Usually  one  or  two  participants took a position at the
    place where the mooring  was  planned  and  they  were  caching
    kayaks there.
         As  I've  told previously we underestimated the canyon and
    we had been still there by 9 p.m. I remind you that two of  our
    friends  have  been waiting for us at the confluence of Ragusha
    and Vologeba, i.e.  about 2 km ahead. We started  for  the  new
    piece  of the canyon trying to reach the confluence and at that
    moment it happened just what it should happen  -  Irina  turned
    over,  left  her boat and I saw her pass me.  She screamed when
    swimming in the stream. Michael explained her briefly and
    vigorously that it's a time to let the boat swim down on it's own!
    In twenty seconds after this well-timed explanation  Irina  has
    reached  the  bank and her kayak reached a tree blockage at one
    island just in the middle of the stream. Just at that time
    Kolja  turned over also but the difference was that he came across
    another blockage together with his boat. Kolja is a strong  man
    and that blockage does not exist any more.
         Me  and  Michael we tried to release Iranus kayak from the
    blockage but we could do nothing with it.
         The  time  was about 10 p.m. and we tired the kayak to the
    blockage just to secure that it would stay there in  the
    morning. It was about 10:30 p.m. when the depleted group was in one
    place on the bank. It's worth mentioning  that  our  pots,  one
    tent and some of our dry suits were in that kayak at the middle
    of the river. Just to complete the  picture:  our  two  friends
    Vanja  and  Natalja  had  been waiting for us and they did know
    nothing about what happened. Neither did we about our  friends.
    We  placed  one  tent  on  a steep slope and fixed a big wooden
    trunk across this slope in  order  to  prevent  ourselves  from
    rolling  down into the river. Fortunately no sleeping bags were
    in the flooded kayak.
         Morning!  It  rained cats and dogs! Michael told his
    brilliant sentence when slipping in a moist clay: "High skills  and
    technology  do not perform in a dung". We've told Iran to go to
    our friends because she did not have a kayak any more  and  she
    could  not  be a help for us to get her kayak out of the
    blockage. She reached our friends by 6 p.m.  only but we would learn
    it much later.
     Fortunately  it  took two hours only to release the kayak from
    the blockage successfully.
         Kolja Kapranov (he rafted successfully down the Chulyshman
    river previous Summer!) told that he did not have any intention
    to  continue paddling. Frankly speaking we did not either. More
    than that we have now 4 kayaks for 3 persons. So we started our
    long  way  up  the slope to get out the canyon . We reached the
    forest road in 500 meters from the canyon but it took about one
    hour  because  of  the steep slope and a very dense forest on a
    top of the canyon. We worked 3 times up and down to  carry  all
    our  staff including boats to the road.  Finally we met all
    together including Vanja and Natalja on this road in the evening.
    It was really pleasant meeting!
         Next  morning  we  were  surprised  that our mini-van came
    right in time and we were back in St. Petersburg about 5 p.m.
         Basing  on  our  experience we can recommend this river at
    the pick of the water. We  strongly  recommend  to  reserve  at
    least  2  full  days for the canyon. It may be rather enjoyable
    for an experienced group if you are not in a hurry.
         We wish you a good trip and a good season!!

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