Onward I narrate about our expedition round the Kurils this summer…
The weather on the Kurils is unpredictable, for sure. For most of the previous two days, up on the caldera of the King of the Volcanoes, the weather couldn’t have been pleasanter. This day, on the other hand – just the opposite: the wind was blowing a gale, and the rain was pouring down in torrents. Still, I won’t go over the wicked Kurilian weather again; I’ve mentioned it plenty before, including here. Nothing to add – apart from the fact that nothing has changed ).
Anyway, on this day of hurricanes-and-raining-cats-and-dogs, we had planned an inspection of Onekotan‘s Nemo Peak, and possibly even a climb to the top of it, since it’s not so tall (a little over 1000 meters). However, the weather failed to grant us permission (.
The only Onekotan-based activity on this day was that of a few brave fishermen among us: they decided some trout (i.e., a freshwater fish) would be best for dinner, so they aimed their rods not at the ocean but at the crater lake on the island – Ozero Chornoye (Black Lake). And a reasonable catch they brought back to the Athens in the afternoon too ).
But… I’m not sure what they did could really be called ‘fishing’, at least – not in an Old Man and the Sea man vs. fish epic sense…
Why? Well, since on this island the trout has zero enemies (no bears, hardly ever any fishermen), it has done nothing but multiply since the year dot, meaning it has come to dominate and even overpower the natural ecosystem here. The only thing that does keep it – to a certain extent – in check, is the fact that it’s hardly anything to eat. Accordingly, the trout pounces upon anything that moves – for example, a fishing lure. But in our case what happened is a baby trout fell for the bait first. This little one was put back into the lake… only for a few elder-trout to attack it and proceed to have it for lunch! So there’s another reason the trout are kept in check: cannibalism! Oh my gory! Such is the grim, harsh, crude, deadly existence of the Onekotan trout! Come back Hemingway, all is forgiven!
But for the ‘fishermen’, on the other hand, it’s a field day. Here they are, approaching the Athens – cold, wet, shivering – but still very pleased with their hefty haul ).
It wasn’t only fish they brought back with them, but also some Kuril know-how: ‘If ever you see a seagull flying backward – bad weather beckons!’
Days like these – foul weather days – we experienced mostly only during the second half of our expedition, when we were traveling back – from south to north. Poor weather in the first half was limited to these first few days. Still, come evening – super sunset!
After those first two days of bad weather we had a full 10 (!) days of sun, which for the Kurils must be some kind of record.
The second day began with a traditional colorful Kuril vista: the western shore of Paramushir.
But to climb Paramushir’s Ebeko in weather such as this – bad idea. Btw – it is from Ebeko Volcano that streams run down to the ocean – warm streams. One we saw – Yurevka – fills the bay it enters with mega-mineralized bright turquoise water. You can see this on a satellite pic – here. And from the Athens it looked like this:
Looks like the Caribbean!
But if you step back – and up – hundreds of meters, the picture becomes even more unusually, uniquely beautiful. But how do you step back and up hundreds of meters? With a drone, dummy ). Check out these phenomenal pics. Btw: these and all the photos below taken from the drone are those of our special guest on the expedition, traveler-blogger-photographer-speaker, Chris Burkard ->
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If there is one thing the Kuril Islands have taught me in the last 48 hours it’s that this place holds more mystery than I could have ever imagined. Small bits of satellite WiFi have allowed our team to track the weather & keep y’all updated. For more check out : @taylorfreesolo @renan_ozturk @tedhesser @rishisugla @povel @jtkerby @tomorrow_unlocked @kasperskylab @_ryanhill_ #fromkurilswithlove
Onward – southward – we sail. Woah – what’s that? An alien ship’s landing pod?!
A little nearer… Could that land mass actually be Darth Vader’s attempt at burying/camouflaging his new Death Star prototype (and that there dent in it is the Concave Dish Composite Beam Superlaser, just like on the original Death Star, as destroyed by Mr. Skywalker (Jr.!):)?
Old abandoned ships rusting away:
Bleak, harsh landscapes. They hardly hint at the approach of a bright sunset!
Suddenly – hissing sounds: whales!
Man the dinghies! Raise the drone! Snap those whales! But I got a little lazy all of a sudden – hardly characteristically – and decided not to get a closer look at the whales. I did partake in a spot of fishing however. I later regretted my sloth: whales not only should be viewed up close two or three times a year – they must! Note to self: don’t ever repeat any such oversights non-sights when it comes to whales!
Chris’ drone pics:
While back on the Athens – at least I caught my first ever cod. And now I know – finally – what one looks like ).
That’s all for today folks – and that’s all from the northernmost Kurils. Time to sail south…
All the pics from the Kurils-2019 expedition are here.