July 01, 2010

Kayaking in Karelia

We have a tradition: each year we go on an expedition with our friends.

Imagine if you will a group of friends setting out to spend two weeks of their annual vacation in nature, far from civilization (and far from showers, though there is plenty of cold river water), with songs around a campfire, mushroom and berry picking, fishing, living in tents and boats, shooting rapids. The tradition stems from a 30-year-long friendship between six schoolmates. But of course things have changed over time. At first, our trips were more strenuous. But with time and the arrival of children, grandchildren, success in careers and a few grey hairs, the trips have become more recreational.

In the 1980s, our tents were crafted from simple tarps, our boats were homemade canoes (using the carcasses of two- or three-person kayaks) or catamarans (an invention of Soviet tourism of the 1960s and 1980s: two long, inflatable cylinders bound together by a frame, with places for four rowers, who paddled as if they were in a canoe).

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