In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau
8 people vs. 1 river
We awaken in the wilderness for the first time. The river is rushing and we are happy that our destination, the confluence of the Little Toba River and the Toba River, is not far: 4 Kilometers as the crow flies, and 9 kilometers upriver in our little boat. We will find out exactly how far that really is though sooner than we can imagine. Since the boat cannot transport 8 people and our luggage, we have to travel each leg twice. So we break our first camp and start traveling. First we stop at a small sand bank where Kai. Jürgen and Florian wait for the rest of the group. While we wait in Camp 1, Gudrun and Niklas find some wolf, bear and deer tracks, and start filming. David realizes on his way back to Camp 1 that we don’t have enough gas along to ferry everyone and everything up the river. He decides to go back to the mouth of the river, and ask the loggers at the dock for more fuel. Of course they are not particularly inclined to help environmentalists, but in the end David convinces them and we can continue the journey. But further along it does not get easier, because we have trouble with the propeller, and we also don’t know if we can even make it all the way with our boat. The absolute top speed traveling against the current is 6 km/hour.
It starts raining, and the suspense rises because since the group is not together, a vessel breakdown could lead to even bigger problems. Fortunately, the second group has less gear and we reach our goal faster than we thought we would: The land of the Grizzlies at the Little Toba River, Wilderness International’s newest nature sanctuary. The sun comes out and all of us are happy that we have reached this beautiful part of the earth. After this challenging day as skipper, David seats himself in the “King David Chair”, a right well-earned, and we once again fall into bed, overjoyed.
We spend the next day finding our way around, and preparing the equipment for the next day’s forest inventory. We try to fish for trout, but have no luck. The real highlight is the first trip beyond our sand bank, the first steps into the rainforest. As expected, we encounter thick shrubs, a lovely mixed forest and many, many mosquitos. After about half an hour we find a great place for the forest inventory, which we will do tomorrow. Thank goodness we already know now that if we do not cover ourselves with long sleeves and trousers as well as bug spray, it could be a difficult and bite-filled day. The evening brings one more surprise… since the sun had shined all day, the glacier, from which the Little Toba flows, begins to melt. The groundwater also rises so that we have to clear our camp and end up on a tiny island. Even the professional Saxon dam we built can no longer hold back the water. Fortunately around midnight the water stops rising, and our things remain dry. Tomorrow you can read all about our first forest inventory and a few bears (and berries) will also play a role.