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  Field Notes From
Remote Russia

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From Author

Fen Montaigne

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From Photographer

Randy Olson

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Randy Olson (top) and Fen Montaigne

Exploring the Putorana Plateau

Field Notes From Author
Fen Montaigne
Beautiful rivers flow through Putorana, with water temperatures in the mid to high 30s. It’s sweet, fresh, pure water. We would walk to a private area near camp, strip, and bathe in this frigid water. It was incredibly refreshing. One of the Russians on the expedition, a botanist, went with me to meet the team hydrologist, who had gone ahead of us upstream. We planned to meet him at an agreed-upon point along the river, but we failed to find him. We decided to take a shortcut back to camp to avoid the river’s numerous “S” curves, but we overshot the camp and got lost. All we had to do was follow the river upstream, but we got turned around and headed downstream. When we didn’t find him, we started back upstream. It was getting dark, and we were crashing through the thicket, hot from exertion, and worried about brown bears.
We were slogging along, and just as we were thinking about giving up and spending the night near the river, someone from the group fired a shotgun and sent up a flare. We found our way back to camp two hours later, but it was a very unsettling experience. This area is true wilderness. If you get lost out here, you’re in real trouble.
I consider myself in pretty good shape, but I found out that I wasn’t as fit as I thought. There was a guy on the team named Kruger. He smoked, drank his share of vodka, and he’s older than I am, but he walked us into the dirt!

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