In reality this custom is more of a fashion than manifestation of any deep religious conviction. Orthodox priests, or the more progressive part thereof, keep on explaining the flock that ice-hole bathing has no connection to the essence of Epiphany. This year however, when the head priest of the Kandalaksha church (site taken down April 2015) refused to participate in organizing ice bathing, there was a burst of indignation on the part of the congregation..
But this one was in Murmansk, in SemenovskoeLake below the landmark monument to the “defender of the Arctic”.
What took me to Lovozero this time was an interpreting (and trip organizational in general) assignment by two Swedish journalists dispatched here to write about the life of Saami. They’ve promised to provide a copy of the article that I will, of course, share with you.
We met in Apatity where I got by train, having wimped out of the idea of driving 200km through icy roads in a blizzard and -30C. The train trip from Kandalaksha to Apatity cost 700+ roubles ($14) and lasted an hour and a half. Lots of empty seats on the train, probably no need to buy tickets in advance during the off-season period.
I first researched the option of a train to Olenegorsk and then a bus but it turned out there was no direct bus to Lovozero from Olenegorsk, the nearest station on the Murmansk railroad. Here is the bus schedule at Olenegorsk:
It is in near plans, with “access for organized group tourists only”. Private travellers watch out as you may be kept out.. Lots of complaints floating around to the effect that the borders of the proposed reserve have been drawn in a manner that does not protect anything of value. In short, if planning a trip there don’t assume anything other than that a little local scandal is brewing.
Yesterday a piece of news about Ms. Tsin, a cyclist from Korea pedalling her way from Finland to Murmansk, reached me, followed by a today’s update to the effect that she got into an accident. It appears she got off lightly thought, and will present herself to the public at the New York Coffee in Murmansk tomorrow as scheduled.
Our friend, the doctor of intensive care, charmnig Tatiana, and her company traveled along the route St. Petersburg – Titovka – Highlands Musta – Tunturi – Middle Peninsula – Murmansk – Teriberka – Kandalaksha – Umba – Kashkarantsy – Cape Ship – Nilmoguba – Petersburg in 10 days.
Want to do it too? We will help you choose the route according to your taste, supply a car with a driver and a translator.