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
Attempting to give support to kayakers looking for
interesting Spring trips we present you:
REPORT ABOUT THE TRIP DOWN THE RAGUSHA RIVER 26.04.97 - 4.05.97
St. Petersburg 20-June-97
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
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
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!!
Ragusha River 26.04.97 - 4.05.97
Популярность: 14, Last-modified: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 17:43:36 GMT