21-Jun-2004 -- A visit to 57°N 33°E, located near Seliger lake on June 21st, 2004
On June 21st we started at 57°N 35°E and continued to 57°N 33°E, located near Seliger lake. We drove through Ostashkov and turned left of Ostashkov-Peno highway. Then we followed a paved road which soon turned into a decent unpaved one through Zamosh'e, Ivanova Gora, Kosarovo and stopped at the end of a road bend. Steep ditches were the only drawback of this road - we witnessed the driver of a ditched car waiting for a tow-truck. He had just overestimated the safe speed for this road and failed to get his car out of a skid.
Confluence Point 57°N 33°E was about 2.5 km to the South-East. With the available maps we failed to identify a road or trail leading to this point or in its general direction. According to our maps the route to this point passed through a swampy forest. Curvy contour lines on the map implied a lot of hills and, correspondingly, a lot of small streams and swamps. As a result we were not very confident that we would be able to reach this Confluence Point. Our original intention was just to assess the terrain and, probably, to retreat.
Accidentally, we stumbled upon a logging road and were able to follow it for more than a kilometer. Actually, the discovery of this road was not an accident. We chose a place where a flat field was immediately adjacent to the road (i.e. one without a ditch) to park our car (we were afraid that our car could be hit by another excited driver). Apparently, this was the place where a logging road began.
The terrain inside the forest, left by the last glacier, was quite interesting. There were many small hills with swampy areas in between. The forest suitable for logging was located on these hills while inferior, smaller trees were located in between. There was an interesting tree-like pattern of branching logging roads leading to these patches of timber forest with a clearing at the end of each logging road. The trees were felled about 10 to 15 years ago. By now bushes and birch trees were growing in these clearings.
Eventually we reached the end of a logging road and started moving off trail through the forest.
The Garmin GPS 12 alone would have been pretty useless under a thick forest canopy. It showed a correct distance and a bearing to the Confluence Point, but its "Compass Page" was rather inconsistent. It could be explained, apparently, by a poor satellite signal and also, probably, by a jagged track (we had to bypass fallen trees etc.). So we used the GPS to determine a bearing and a distance to the Confluence Point and used a standard liquid filled compass for actual navigation.
We had no waterproof boots. So the crossing of small streams and swampy areas between hills was a challenge for us. We tried to step next to trees and bushes and onto patches of grass. Where this method couldn't be used we walked along the streams until fallen trees durable enough to be used as bridges were found. We almost managed to keep our feet dry. There were many more mosquitoes in these swampy areas than in the hill tops. Mosquitoes were OK except when I had to relace my hiking boots and read the GPS.
We progressed ahead and reached the Confluence Point 57°N 33°E in one and a half hours. It happened that this confluence point was located at the north side of an old clearing. The sky visibility was OK and as a result the GPS' accuracy was 4 meters. Nevertheless we failed to reach the exact location of this confluence - there was a swamp about 20 centimeters deep in this spot. We stopped about 5 meters East of this CP. We recommend waterproof boots for follow-up parties wanting to reach this exact spot.
The hike across the forest to the Confluence Point was relatively challenging, so for the return leg I wanted to find a better route. Specifically I wanted to find a logging road leading to this clearing. We went along the west side of the clearing but failed to locate a logging road. Probably the logging road led to the south or east side of this clearing.
So, I tried to find an alternative route back. Our return path's origin was about a hundred meters north of our original track's final point. Once we hit a swamp with a lot of water and had to retreat a little bit. We also found a lot of fresh bear dung and tree trunks scratched about 2 meters above the ground, apparently, by bears. I tried to bypass the patches of dense forest, bush, and fallen trees to decrease the risk of accidentally stumbling upon a bear. Eventually I had to return to the same logging road we used on the way to the confluence point. It took us about two hours to come back to our car. Apparently our original route was good enough and could be recommended for other parties.
At the same time I believe that there should be a logging road leading to the clearing containing this Confluence Point (however we have not found it). This road should provide easier access to the Confluence Point.
I believe that the best time to visit this Confluence Point is in August or at the end of July after a stretch of dry weather. At that time this route could be more enjoyable.
Another option, for people sensitive to mosquitoes, is to visit in September after a first frost.
The still "undiscovered" logging road leading directly to the clearing containing the confluence point would be a good winter route for ski fans.
BE AWARE OF TICKS!
We found the following numbers in a Russian forum http://www.tick.ru/billboard/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=68:
In the year 2002 more than 2200 people in Tver region were bitten by ticks.
In the year 2003 18 people got infected with "tick encephalitis" (potentially crippling disease) and one of them died.
In the year 2004 168 ticks who have bitten people were tested in a laboratory. 26 of them were infected with tick encephalitis.
As a result it makes sense to follow a standard procedure to prevent tick bites:
To apply anti-tick repellent to the edges of clothing before a hike.
To comb your hair, undress and carefully examine each other looking for ticks after a hike (favourite places of ticks to bite are armpits, behind ears, in groin, etc.).
P.S. Some members of our party were more afraid of bears while others were more afraid of ticks.