Kamchatka Land of 10,000 Bears, Part 19, “Victory Day” in the middle of nowhere.

by david on March 6, 2020

Thursday, May 9th 2019

Today is “Victory Day” in Russia. It is the day Russians celebrate the surrender of the Nazi’s in 1945 and ending WWII. It is a day of national pride, full of parades, speeches, and military spectacle. There was none of that in hunting camp, just us and the bears. Hopefully, the bears would put on a spectacle of their own today.

Once again, the clouds were low and it was 9:30 before we could see well enough to leave camp. We took a different route today to leave camp. The route the guys chose looked like a bobsled run to me. It was a chute with rounded sides, high walls and sharp turns. Igor and Vasili dropped in and hit the throttle. We accelerated and used every bit of the steep sides to make a turn. Banking this way and then that way, all the while staying on the gas. I must be getting used to snowmobiling as I found this pretty cool and even a little fun. At the end of the chute it was a wide open flat, and I am guessing we got up to 70 mph as we flew across it. That was fun too, as long as I remembered to use Vasili as a windbreak. Otherwise the wind proved a bit rough and I had to hold on tightly to the handles on either side of me. The only problems were the occasional, unexpected bump. Most of the snow was smooth and even, but, every once in a while, just below the surface was a bump. Those bumps tended to try and shake my kidneys loose. It was one heck of a ride.

It was still overcast and cold enough to keep the snow frozen under the snowmobiles. The wind was blowing pretty stiffly as well. I thought the bears would be moving as the frozen show would allow them to walk on top without breaking through the crust. I guess the wind convinced them otherwise. We saw lots and lots of tracks. Regrettably all were yesterdays.

We climbed and glassed to no avail. We traversed some of the most spectacular scenery I have seen anywhere. We traveled from the tree-lined creek beds to well above the tree line. We negotiated some difficult terrain, but it was all beautiful. Riding parallel to and just on top of what I thought were avalanche- looking shelves added to the excitement. Nonetheless, we made it safely. Once, we tried to cross over a mountain and had to turn back when the visibility went to zero as the tops were still in the clouds. I have to admit it was an eerie feeling when Igor’s snowmobile disappeared from sight when it was further than ten or so feet distant. This was yet another neat experience to add to a long list of others this trip. While the scenery was breathtaking (and so was the ride part of the time) I was once again content to take a back seat and let the others drive. I don’t think that even if I was a somewhat experienced snowmobile driver, I would have been comfortable following these two.

I stood up very briefly to snap a quick picture as Vasily slowed to just below Mach II. I wanted to see what he saw as we negotiate the terrain. I stood up very briefly to snap a quick picture as Vasily slowed to just below Mach II. I wanted to see what he saw as we negotiate the terrain.



Igor pulled over and we stopped just to appreciate the view. Igor pulled over and we stopped just to appreciate the view. 


Around 11:00 it was like someone flipped a switch. Bears were everywhere. First, there were four or five small bears we glassed at a distance and left them uninvestigated. Next, we saw a sow with cubs. There were two Nantucket sleigh rides after bears that appeared to be big. Regrettably, they were slightly smaller than the bear I took when we caught up to them. They were approaching the 9-foot mark and nowhere close to the 10 footer I was looking for. The back to back high speed rides were more than my back was able to handle, so we broke for lunch. Igor broke out some vodka, his shot glasses and we toasted Victory Day a few times. Olya had packed an appropriate feast for the day; ham, moose sausage, bread, apples, sweets, soda, coffee and tea. We had a proper Victory Day feast in the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere.

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