No one was waiting for us, save a startled old man and his silent, flower-print wife. The lights of smokestakes and cranes blinked in the darkness. Twelve hours on the water told in tight legs and swollen fingers, but stepping into shallow water washed equally from the great Amur and the incoming tide of the Pacific, I felt light. The thing was done.
At midnight the night before, a bear had walked into camp amid staccato heat lightning. The forest drone of mosquitoes gave way to the sprayed stones of his retreat. A tropical night led to a tropical day, and a steady push past floating fishing villages and the boats of Russian and Native hauling nets. At 10PM, the industrial outpost of Nikolayevsk, and Pacific tidewater.
I have now deposited the efforts and resources of five years of my life into this endeavour, and received in return the beginnings of a knowledge of the world and its component parts – beautiful and very ugly, the increduality of friends and fishermen, and perhaps some dose of adulthood in the milieu of constant travel and exhaustion on three contients.
Around the world by canoe and bicycle, 408 days and 20,000 kilometers.
It’s time to go home.