The Stranniki (Russian for Runaways or Wanderers) are the strong Pomorsky Old Believers who rejected prayers for Tsar Peter and all government papers (identification, passports, money, etc). They would not wear clothing contrary to Old Orthodox Russia, nor eat with those of contrary Faith and Practice. Keeping themselves separate from the antichrist society they went far into the Siberian wilderness. This blog is about these people and my effort to conform my life to theirs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Great Northern Forest

On Assignment With National Geographic

Field Notes From Author
Fen Montaigne

I teamed up with Luda Mekhertyecheva, National Geographic’s Moscow office manager, to search for Old Believers, a Russian religious sect whose members reject modern life to live off the boreal forest. On a cool, rainy day in central Siberia, we drove ten miles (16 kilometers) down a muddy road, walked more than a mile through boreal forest on a steep slippery track, then finally made it to a mist-covered river near the Old Believer village. We tried unsuccessfully to find a path through the forest, then failed to make it upstream along a rocky bank. Finally, our guide decided to bushwhack his way to the village, where he hoped to dispatch some members to pick us up in a boat. He succeeded, and we spent a few hours in the village, talking to residents, eating melons, and sampling homemade beer. One of the Old Believers over-imbibed and nearly capsized our boat on the return trip. He was a sweet man at heart.

[the over-imbided part is conjecture, the drink has more water than beer, nothing happened - forgive, John]