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The Water of Kamchatka

On April 18th, 2017

The Water of Kamchatka

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Kamchatka Water

There are few places on our big blue planet with water one can drink straight from the rivers. Kamchatka water is famous throughout the world for its pure sweet taste.  1/4 of the worlds pacific salmon also call Kamchatka's pure water home.  Incredible marine ecosystems stretching for thousands of miles on each coast.  And most importantly few if any people.

And  the quantity of water, in the 1998 book A water quality assessment of the former Soviet Union, Kamchatka has the largest supply of freshwater resources in the entire country. Also a full 2/3"s of the natural geothermal springs in Russia are found on Kamchatka.  This book also shows the level of turbidity of Kamchatka rivers to be very low.  Meaning clear water and lots of fish production.

With a central mountain range, Sredinny Range, punching up like a sail catching the snow and rain crossing the Sea of Okhotsk and Siberia.  Flushing this pure water thru long coastal plains of perfect gravel emptying into two different bodies of water. Coastal plains flowing from mountains where there are no people.  No effluent, no water treatment plants, no dams, just perfect wild rivers. The kind of rivers that look wild, feel wild, are wild, where you can go for days, weeks without human habitation. Mid season of 2015 I had been on the rivers constantly for three weeks at Rainbows from Above.  I had seen nothing in the way of humans other than one old trappers cabin.  As we were fishing one of the anglers pointed out something shiny in the water just downstream.  What in the world could it be?  A simple tin can lid, probably from a trapper working the river in the winter.  I take a one minute stroll along the banks of Boulder Creek and if it is not in public view, ie trespassing, it is a mess of garbage.  Go three weeks on Kamchatka, drinking the water every day, being immersed in it, becoming more than human but part river is the siren of Kamchatka water.

Massive aquifers of porous lava filters the huge winter snows and heavy summer rains.  Often called the Land of Fire and Ice it should be called the land of green valleys and rivers.  These coastal plains and valleys blaze a rich green as if painted by Monet.  The soil explodes in the summer.  About 1,000 species of vascular plants inhabit Kamchatka.  Dominating the wetlands Blue Joint grass flows much like a river covering huge valleys.  Hill sides darkened by Elfin Cedar roll onto miles of Ermins Birch all spreading in a vast wilderness bubbling with pure water pouring out of the earth and sky.  58,120,000,000,000 gallons of water runs off each year.  This is just the runoff not the deep water aquifers covering the peninsula from north to south.  The dominant source of moisture is the North Pacific, to the south and east, though the Sea of Okhotsk, to the west, acts as a secondary source.  The coast of the Sea of Okhotsk is generally colder than the Pacific coast and is characterized by extensive peat bog formation on a large marshy plain.

It was explained to me once by a Rainbow Trout biologist rainbows prefer a 2.5 mph water speed. Also the perfect speed for another pure water loving plant.  This water is green, Kamchatka Buttercup flowing much like the rivers themselves.  A plant that swims flower and fin with Rainbow Trout on Kamchatka.

Each river is different, each with its own unique nature of serpentine life winding thru the valleys we explore.  Each waterway has more to offer than just fish, look under the trees and find little kingdoms of life splashed out onto the land by the life giving water.

One of my favorite quotes is by Loren Eiseley " If there is magic on this planet it is contained in water." How magical must a place be when it is overflowing with perfect rivers pulsating with historical abundance?  How important is it to bear witness to such a place in the time of the anthropocene? How can a fly fisherman any fisherman not want to see this place?  I will never know.

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