Read the beginning of my journey to the Exclusion Zone and Pripyat 2020 in Part 1, which I published earlier..
So. Vlad went home, that is, he left the exclusion zone. And we, having settled in a new apartment (the windows were broken in the old one and the caches were robbed), we decided to make another desperate sortie. In the wild Into the bowl Where there are no tourists at all, where there is an almost intact school and an old wooden church built in 1800, in excellent condition. Where it pulls like a magnet from the last trip. And where you can meet bison and a bear – after all, the border with the Belarusian zone is very close.
Our new apartment< p>We moved out around 9 am. It was necessary to get to the railway bridge connecting the city of Slavutich and the Chernobyl station as soon as possible. I wanted to come immediately after the morning train, but it arrives around 8 in the morning. Waits a little, and goes back.
This time we decided to go through the “sandy plateau” – it's terribly phony there, but you can get to the bridge twice as fast. On the “sandy plateau” PTLRV, the background in some places reaches 16 millirengens, so you need to go as quickly as possible, and in windy weather, wear a mask – the wind raises radioactive sand dust, and breathing it is a bad idea.
Sandy plateau, Chernobyl
When you walk along the sandy plateau, you feel like a hero of the American movie Mad Max, or the computer game Fallout, walking across the radioactive wasteland. Approaching the railway, we heard the sound of a chainsaw.
Walking through the radioactive wasteland
< /p>Walking through the radioactive wasteland, Chernobyl
Having got closer, it became clear where he came from – the railroad workers cut branches of nearby trees and bushes, carried out preventive work. Also, they were repairing something on the bridge. We waited until they loaded into their trailer and left home, and then moved across the bridge.
Travelers cut branches from nearby trees and bushes
Going across the bridge
We go through the railway bridge
Frankly, it was scary to go, as the train schedule has shifted and does not correspond to what can be found on the Internet. And if, during the crossing of the bridge, an electric train starts to go along it .. By and large, there is a small metal path on the side that you can climb over, in addition, in the center of the bridge, on the side, there is a small technical platform where you can go down. But you still have to run to the center of the bridge.. All this is terribly inconvenient, especially since climbing over the fences at such a height is not only inconvenient, but also dangerous.
Area in the center of the bridge
But, we were lucky, and we did not meet the train. Having crossed to the other side, they went down to the Pripyat River, took water, bought, and moved to the first village called Zimovishche. This village vividly illustrates most villages in the exclusion zone – rickety houses, swallowed by the jungle, some with collapsed roofs, inside – complete trash.
A house in the village of Zimovishche
In one of the houses, a basement was opened in the corridor, I did not have time to turn on the flashlight, and I simply did not notice the hole in the floor. As a result, he fell into it, but managed to rest his hands on the edges, as if on uneven bars. Otherwise, I could break my legs, and so – a couple of abrasions on my side and a slight fright.
In this village there was another surprise right on the road – a huge black ELK. Frankly, for the first time in my life I saw an elk in natural conditions, and even so close – no more than 5 m, right on the asphalt road. Coming out of the corner, we just ran into him .. while I turned on the camera, he thoughtfully looked at us and slowly, jogging, disappeared into the jungle.
Zimovishche village on the map
To get to the village of Zimovishche, you need to go in a straight line along the railway tracks to the crossing, and turn right. 3 km – and you are at the goal. And in order to get to the church built in 1800, you need to go forward and turn not to the right, but to the left, that is, to the village of Krasne. This is where we headed after meeting with the moose. Looking ahead, I’ll say that in Zimovishche we found russula (clean, do not glow – I checked), and took them on the way back to cook the most delicious rice with mushrooms in the world.
The road to the village of Krasnoe
Getting to the village, in principle, is not difficult, only midges, mosquitoes, and other insects interfere. Some, by the way, bite not only painfully, but also strangely – after this transition, a bite remained on my hand, resembling a small burn, which came down only after a month and a half (!). And that is not completely. Therefore, if you are allergic to the bites of any insects, be careful and take medicine with you.
The sun had almost disappeared below the horizon when we entered the village. Going to look for the church in the dark, with aching, swollen legs and an empty stomach is not an option, so we decided to examine nearby houses for a comfortable attic. And, oh Gods, they quickly found a stalker's house, with an abundance of garbage, but in general – tolerable for life. Even the stove is working – we were convinced of this immediately, since at the time of our arrival it was still warm. Apparently, we missed someone.
This is a house from the inside
Such a furnace, and next to it is a place to sleep. Sleeping on the stove itself is not an option – stuffy, dirty and just gloomy.
A place to sleep next to the stove
View around the house
In the morning, after a light breakfast, we decided not to waste time and went in search of a church. On the way it was impossible not to go into a couple of houses – devastation and desolation reigns everywhere more or less equally. But. There is also the Post Office and the local Club – they are more interesting.
Post Office and Savings Bank
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Sculpture near the trees
Let's go to the church
However, when you approach the church.. She meets you suddenly, looking out from the jungle. I expected.. I don't know what I expected, but definitely not this, especially given the deplorable state of everything around.
selfie in the church
The remains of paintings (on canvas) are visible on the walls – obviously, the marauders do not really understand, the church is in front of them, or an ordinary residential building. Just barbaric robbery. The church was restored by ideological people, now it is in good condition, I hope it will continue to be so.
Inside the church
Remains of paintings are visible on the walls
Before leaving, we cleaned up (we found a broom right there), and had a tea party on the church balcony. For this, we had pu-erh in reserve. By the way, we still used the water that we collected in the Pripyat River the day before. In the village itself, water can be drawn from the well near the church, however, this requires a rope, and I, to my shame, forgot it.
Tea drinking on the church balcony
Tea drinking on the church balcony
In addition to a broom, we found half a bottle of mineral water left by someone earlier – we drank it all the way back until we returned to the river. Somewhere halfway through, cramps began in my legs – from a lack of water (and strong pu-erh brought the rest of the moisture out of the body). A train flew by, forcing us to dive into the nearest bushes.
going back to the river
Standing close to the river, we were torn between the desire to go get water and the need to cross the bridge, but, logically, we had to wait until the train returned. She stubbornly did not return, for some reason stuck at the Semihody station (that's the name of the station near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant). After some thought and waiting, we decided to break through. Since the sun was already setting, and it was impossible to wait for the train to return.
waiting for the return of the train
the sun goes down
again we walk along the bridge
Limping, with cramps and pain in our legs, we crossed the bridge as best we could and literally rolled down along the embankment – now it was possible to go to the water, fortunately, the river was very close. About five minutes later we heard, and then we saw, how the train rushed by. We got home after 2 hours, climbed into sleeping bags and died. Until the morning.
And in the morning there was the same rice and jelly with local apples.
rice and jelly with local apples
We stayed in Pripyat for a total of 11 days. A lot, I agree. But, all good things come to an end, and 11 days flew by quickly, leaving behind a lot of impressions and a aching feeling in the chest. The same thing that occurs when you look enchanted at the starry sky, but you know that you have to go home. It doesn't matter why. And you savor, pull every second, turning it into infinity, but, paradoxically, infinity ends.
We left, as always, in the evening. There was almost no food, fortunately, near the river Already remained intact with a pack of oatmeal. Somehow it didn’t work out during the day, but nevertheless we planned to walk all night in order to climb the Duga at dawn.
For me, this is a peculiar idea – to rise up, like Icarus, together, simultaneously with the sun. The main thing, like Icarus, is not to scorch the wings and not fall head down from Dougie. But, in order to climb the Duga, it was necessary to reach it even more. And for this it was necessary to overcome at least 30 km of the way, or even more. Moreover, part of this path ran through completely wild jungle, where we have never been.
To top it all off, my feet were shamelessly swollen to the point where even wearing sneakers was problematic. In this regard, I decided to go in size 45 crocs found in one of the stalker apartments. I have the 42nd.
In brackets, I note that these Crocs stood there for at least a year, so I don’t think that anyone would ever come back for them. Therefore, the conscience is clear.
We left Pripyat usually, without incident, hide and seek with guards, and other surprises. Once on the road leading along the city towards the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, we set off. It started to drizzle lightly. The night was warm and incredibly starry. At some point, I took off my shoes and walked barefoot through the puddles – it was much more convenient, because you can’t turn on the flashlight, and getting into puddles and slurping your shoes is not very pleasant. But stepping into cool lakes on asphalt with bare feet is just right.
We had to walk along the asphalt to the turn onto the country road, which, in turn, was supposed to lead us to the power transmission towers leading to the Duga. If you go this way, then you can technically turn off and get into the air defense missile unit hidden among the dense forest. However, at night there is nothing much to do there, but I didn’t want to spend the whole day. Yes, and we had a shortage of food – one protein shake, some cereals and pasta – to eat 2 times.
Map of the route near Duga
The country road we were walking on really led us to a path leading along the power lines. The trail is an overgrown track, as if deepened into the ground. Rigid roots stick out for several kilometers along the edges of this rut, like steel bars, and mercilessly beat on my legs – given that I walked either barefoot or in Crocs, my ankles were bruised in the morning. And Lena's legs in sneakers got completely wet from puddles and dew, and turned into a kind of sponge (when you sit in the bathroom for a long time, you get the same effect).
IMPORTANT! This is a very comfortable and relatively short path, however, you need to be prepared for it – ideally, you need high, waterproof and light shoes. For example, trekking low shoes. Or – patience combined with endurance.
When you approach the Duga just before dawn, and really realize the size of this structure, there is a slight shock. Along the entire length of the giant radar station are technical facilities, completely empty inside. That is, completely. Apart from human excrement, dust and broken bricks, there is nothing anywhere. In one of these structures called letters, we hid our backpacks and went up. It's time to feel like Icarus.
The scale of the Arc is amazing
Arc at dawn, Chernobyl
Arc at dawn, Chernobyl. Photo 1
After all, the first, indecisive and steady at the same time, a ray of the sun appeared on the horizon. It was impossible to lag behind, so we decided to climb the small Duga – all the stairs to the large Duga were completely cut off (apparently, after a fatal accident with a stalker, he fell and crashed to death), climbing to its first floor is possible, but it is more difficult and longer. And time was running out – because the sun of Icarus does not wait. chast-2-pohod-v-chernobyl-nelegalno-471de52.jpg” alt=”Journey to the Exclusion Zone and Pripyat. Part 2 | trip to Chernobyl illegally” />
View from the Small Arc
View of the forest from the Small Duga
View from the small Arc to the surroundings
On the Small Arc
Photo at the top of the small Arc
Around half past seven in the morning, the sounds of chainsaws and the movement of trucks began to be heard – there is a sawmill nearby. But more on that later. We decided to have a protein shake, watch a big arc, and move on since there was no time to sleep.
Our path ran through the center of space communications – something else was preserved inside. On the other hand, besides the remnants of the former technological power and traces of marauders, there are traces of illegal tourists. For which, frankly, I am very ashamed. Why? The photos speak for themselves.
Traces of illegal tourists
Traces of illegal tourists in the space communications center
Portrait of Lenin
If you follow this path, know that the map will deceive you. You need to bypass the space center not on the left side, as indicated on various electronic online maps, but on the right. There is no path on the left side – there are wild thickets of acacia, shrubs, and in general a complete chaos of vegetation. If you go around to the right, go to the forest road past the guard tower.
It is advisable to do this as early as possible – lumberjacks are deployed there at full strength already at 7 in the morning. We walked around 10 am, as we spent time near the Duga and in the center of space communications. As you understand, the work was in full swing, and the forest road runs right along the edge of the sawmill.
What we saw there exceeded all our wildest expectations. Burnt from below, but absolutely alive and green, the forest is mercilessly cut down, destroying the precious reserve. After all, according to the papers, he seemed to have burned down. Here is a short video I filmed at the scene, which covers what is happening very well:
Further, it was necessary to go in a straight line, and go to the asphalt. After that, go through the village of Korogod, and go to the power transmission towers leading to the Uzh River and further, to the exit from the zone. From Duga to the exit from the zone, about 55 km. Let me remind you that we did not sleep for a day, and we were not going to sleep until the evening. The main thing is to set yourself up correctly, not to lose heart, and not to allow yourself to whine despite fatigue, pain, swollen legs, and so on. It's also important to take at least 3 liters of water with you each, and have at least a couple of caffeine tablets.
< /p>Scheme of our route
Already approaching the end of the forest road, in the distance we saw a silhouette resembling a man in camouflage. In such cases, the procedure is the same – run and hide. We dived into the forest on the right hand, rushed through the brambles, skinning our legs, and fell behind some log. They lay for about 20 minutes, but no one appeared.
I decided to go exploring. Making his way very carefully, he approached the road and saw, you won’t believe it .. A wild horse! He came closer, apparently, we took him from a distance for a person (of course, he stood “face” to us, and not sideways). Perhaps fatigue and lack of sleep also played a role. The horse allowed me to get very close to him – about 20 meters.
Wild horses in Chernobyl
All the way, while we walked, we did not see human tracks, but we saw traces of horse hooves without horseshoes. At the end of this forest road, you have two options, either take a detour, turning left, or go straight ahead through the burnt-out forest. We chose to go ahead. This forest hugs you with its burnt branches, leaving black marks on your body and making you look like a special forces soldier from an American movie.
we walk through the forest, dirty with soot
Passing the village of Korogod, we decided to climb into several houses (well, you can’t just walk past), and in one of them we found some food. A bag of oatmeal, 400 grams of buckwheat, leftover condensed milk and crackers. It all expired a year ago, but it was a gift for us.
our last push
We drank one more caffeine tablet and made the last push 20 km long – right to the river Uzh. Having overcome a strip of suffering – a dried-up swamp, utterly overgrown with reeds, young birches and other impenetrable vegetation. Here, as in the movie “Stalker” – the zone is constantly changing. Everything instantly overgrows, and often there is not even a hint of a path.
Having reached the river, we collapsed into it with groans of relief, bathed and began to look for mussels. We did not sleep at this point for about 38 hours. They collected mussels, prepared food, and then the sky was covered with clouds, a strong wind rose – a storm broke out. Huge, withered pines began to fall loudly and scary around us, one of them landed 10 meters from the tent.
40 hours without sleep, 22 hours of continuous movement.. One of the most exciting adventures in my life was coming to an end. It rained all night, but in the morning the sun came out. It was necessary to make the last push – to leave the Zone and reach the stop. About 4 kilometers before the thorn, right on the way, a car of border guards was waiting for us. Very cute. We dived into the forest, going around it more often. Stepping over the thorn, without saying a word, we both felt relieved and, as always, a slight sadness – this is the end.
end of our route
P.S.: A month later I returned to Pripyat to celebrate my birthday and experience a lot of other adventures with one of my friends and subscribers, Artur. But, that's another story..
Recently, from -due to the events in Belarus, in the Exclusion Zone, the personnel of the border troops were strengthened, and patrols became more frequent. In addition, a bill is now being discussed with might and main, toughening fines, up to 34 thousand hryvnias (approximately 1250-1300 dollars). So – be careful.
Also read on this topic:
Illegal trip to Pripyat and Chernobyl: a real review from a stalker
Journey to the Exclusion Zone and Pripyat 2020. Part 1
Yan Babushkinn (Yann_Babushkinn)