The Dep River, Russia, 2008

Here on the Dep River I learned to swim, to fish and to assemble a kayak of the type Taimen. Almost every year my parents and I “conquered” that route which, in fact, was for women and children — “a zero one” according to the complexity rank. Now, in seven years, I still recognize the familiar bends, reaches, hills and cliffs. This is the place where, years ago, a stormy gust overturned my Dad’s kayak, and that is the the very spit where I competed with my brother in throwing cobblestones in the game “who can throw farthest”. Then we invented another game with the funny name “Plop-and-splosh” (in Russian it sounds like “bulk-and-plukh”). The stone, which was thrown at a certain angle to the water surface, would come into the water with a dull sound and without any splashes but a bit later  bubbles and bow waves would show up on the surface – this was a plop (in Russian “bulk”). We used to thow until our shoulders started to ache with tiredness.

At some place down the river people saw a pack of red dogs and Asiatic black bears. I remember it was really scary to fall asleep in the tent when there was barking of billy goats over the river, or when an hour earlier a female bear with bear cubs was coming nearer to us  on the leeward side but then got frightened and returned to taiga.

One day, near the mouth of the river, which was a favourite place of fishermen living at the hydro power, we tried to fish out at least one lenok out of a huge shoal of them in the shallow water  We spent half of the day trying to do it but failed because the fishes were as if contused, they did not take the bait and smoothly moved away to the depth when we, being excited and intrigued, tried to catch them by hand.

Once my classmate and I decided to take a short cut and found a channel which seemed to us quite passable. At the end of it there was an abatis and the water flowed under the obstruction. My knife was of great use in that situation, my Dad made it out of a cutting bit of a cutting machine. We had to cut  a couple of pine logs into pieces, we fiddled about for a lot of time and fimally dragged the kayak over.

In seven years I remember everything though the forest has become charred after a forest fire and  has overgrown with grass, the old hermit has left his house, and the gardens of the Old Believers have overgrown with young birch-trees.

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