Mika Lappalainen | Friday, 15 March 2019
I was four days snowmobiling in Russia. It is total wilderness and nearest town, Pääjärvi, is about 80 km from lodge. In Pääjärvi there is mobile phone connection if you need one. Lodge have restaurant and they have wifi so you could make whatsapp calls and they have also somekind of old fashion phone connection. But if you go just few kilometres away…. you don’t have any connection to world. And I think most of us are use to have connection all the time. (well not Paul because he is jungle man). And that made me think about emergency situations when fishing remote places or any outdoor activities you do out of connection.
Years ago we were hiking back from fishing spot with Satu. We were about 35 km from road. So on the way back we met two men and one of them had broken leg. He had fell down on rocks when hiking and broke his shin. It was his luck that they were only about 2 km from spot where you could get mobile connection and help. In the mountains there is sometimes spots where you can have connection, it is either valleys or top of mountains. In this case it was long valley which was directly to civilication. Helicopter was coming to pick them up so we continue our journey because there was nothing we could do. We hiked about 30 minutes when we heard that copter is coming, it saw us and turned to us. Probably it thought that we are the ones how needs to be rescued, we had sticks to help walking so I spotted to them right direction and after 5 minutes we saw how copter landed and took off again.
On my latest trip to Russia we had kind of emergency situation. Originally our plan was to start from Niska, (lodge) and head to Nilmaguba (Village by the White Sea) in one day, we should drive about 140 km without trails or any connection. After few hours it was clear that we can’t get thru to White Sea and we need to return back to Niska. Snow and weather conditions was so hard and difficult that it was not safe to continue and try to push forward lasting 80 km. So we had good break by the fire and returned safely to lodge. During break my guests start to ask what if questions. Like what would happen if we are not going Nilmaguba (our original destination) will someone to help us? Or if someone is coming from Niska after us? And so on…. Good questions and something to think about when going remote place. How someone can come after you and when?
Next morning we got answers to all questions. We woke up early in the morning when Pekka (Pjotr, camp manager) came to my cabin. He explained in russia that there is 10 peoples group stuck about 50 km from lodge. He asked me to come on restaurant where they have lady who speaks little bit Finnish and maps so he can show. Situation was that there really is 10 peoples group and they don’t have any functional snowmobile anymore. The group has been pushing thru even weather conditions was against. They need to have some food and ride to lodge. Pekka was asking my assistance for this operation. (for me it was clear that I will help, only thing was that my guests were still sleeping and we should start our day after 3 hours. So I left note to them that I won’t join breakfast and we will start as planned). Hovercraft took off just before us so it could take people from end of one lake. We drove with Pekka 50 km to group. When we arrived we saw that all of their snowmobiles were stuck on water and snow and frozen. 3 out of 10 was totally out of order and also 3 drivers were pretty cold. They had been spending night over without shelter, just by the campfire (not good one) and it was -28 celsius. I took one person to sit on my snowmobile and another one Lapp’s sledge, Pekka took one person. Others got some food and hot drinks, they were fine otherwise. We drove 20 km to hovercraft and then those 3 got warm ride to lodge. After that we returned also to Niska and I continue my day with my group. Remaining 7 were helped during the day by Pekka and when they got food they were able to get their snowmobiles out from ice.
Conclusions from this: Always have back up plan, giving up is option in the front of nature. When we go hiking and fishing in remote place, we always leave our camping place and route to someone and also when they should expect us return. I leave note to car’s windshield, note will tell dates we are out and direction were we have been heading. This is only for that if someone is passing our car often that they don’t start wonder. (Now days nobody cares really so … but I leave note anyway). If I don’t have satellite phone, I have other just in case connection. It might be helicopter passing by and checking that we are okay. (often in mountains they fly daily so it is their routine anyway to see that they passengers are okay) At wintertime in Russia, I always have satellite phone with me. And my guests knows it and also gps.
So there is some ”my out connection tips” for emerqency situations. We are so used to have connection that we don’t really think about what if…… And always help if someone need that. You never know when it is your turn
Have a nice weekend
Mika from Finland
Ps. I’m heading on Saturday to Finnish and Swedish Lappland, again out of connection for daytimes.