The Taiga Life
May 2, 2013 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Featured previously, Vice does a 35 minute video chronicling a rare visit to the sole surviving member of the Lykov family, Agafia.

The Lykovs were a family of Old Believers (a splinter sect from the Russian Orthodox Church), who had exiled themselves to Siberia in 1936 to escape Soviet persecution, and remained in complete isolation until 1978 when a geological survey accidentally discovered their homestead.
posted by 2N2222 (7 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Since reading the previously I have started responding to any insufficiently hard-core wilderness activity, most recently this article about the North Pond hermit-burglar, with "That ain't no Agafia Lykova shit." Highly recommended.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:57 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Werner Herzog's recent Happy People: A Year in the Taiga was solid, but now I'm haunted by the knowledge that it lacked Lykova. And I wonder if he isn't, too.
posted by mr. digits at 3:45 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Great post, fascinating subject.

And don't miss this, recently in the Atlantic, about Old Believer communities in Alaska.
posted by spitbull at 6:17 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Incredible. That was really well done, thank you for posting it. When I saw 'Vice' I was apprehensive but that was the real deal, not exploitive as I had feared (even though it has its moments of sort of silly hipster-goes-camping incongruity with her story).

How on earth did Vice get a team of people out there? I would have thought that access to her homestead would be strictly limited, and it looks like these guys had parks service people with them, so they must have gone through official channels. My impression from the end of the previous article on her was that the writer of that article hadn't been able to arrange a visit. So interesting. I wonder how often she has visitors.

I also had the impression from the previous article that she was alone, not with this neighbor for 16 years... and the story of the neighbor, that is something. I was impressed that the Vice guys didn't press for more not-their-business details of what's obviously a very complicated relationship. Why does he stay out there? Could/would the government keep him out if Agafia made it clear she didn't want him to stay, or is it better to have him around just in the sense that two are better than one?

I was glad to see that she is clearly accepting ongoing help from outside, eg gifts of animals, etc. I was also glad to see she has cats and a dog! I wonder what she feeds them, and what her introduction to pets was.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:55 PM on May 2, 2013

Huh, according to the article the Vice visit was planned before the Smithsonian article that was the basis of the previous post.
As my film crew and I were preparing for the trip to visit the last remaining Lykov, we almost called off the story when the Smithsonian published an archive-based article in January that ended with Agafia, then 45 years old, deciding to continue living alone in the Siberian wilderness after her father’s death. But that was 25 years ago, and the author did not have either the means or the fortitude to travel to the taiga to see how life was treating Agafia at 70. So we went.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:08 PM on May 2, 2013

What an amazing woman. I wonder what she will decide to do when she is no longer able to sustain herself, and I hope she finds something acceptable. One can only imagine what kind of hell a city must seem like to someone who has lived surrounded by nature her whole life.

MetaFilter: It is good for scaring bears.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:53 PM on May 2, 2013

Wow, that adds a lot of detail that was missing from the Smithsonian bit. She's doing a lot better than that article lead me to believe - several cabins, at least one with a steel roof, goats, cats, a dog, a gun for scaring bears...I thought she was still in the original ramshackle single cabin.

But what the hell's up with this Yerofei character? I would've thought a neighbor would be good to have out there, but it sounds like he's just a burden and a creep. Wish they could get him out, but no doubt Agafia's too nice to demand he leave, and how do you evict someone from the wilderness, anyway?
posted by echo target at 9:22 AM on May 3, 2013

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