To the sound of sawing wood, the camera zooms in on a snow-huddled frontier camp, a few lonely buildings set against a stark backdrop of bare mountains, evergreen forests and frozen taiga. Then her voice cuts in: "I was born and baptized here, near the River Erinat. It was my father, mother and us four children—two brothers and two sisters. No one came here for 40 years." Except it's in Russian.
This is the beginning of Agafia's Taiga Life, a new film by VICE about Agafia Lykov, the last living member of a now-famous family that survived alone and undetected by the rest of civilization for 42 years in a remote corner of Siberia's forbidding taiga. The film is much like the taiga itself—raw, spare and very quiet. It's the story of an old woman—Agafia just turned 69—who learned from birth how to live off the land in a land that doesn't have much to give.
"If a person is born here," says local ranger Igor Egorov, "they begin to understand animal behavior, weather and nature." Agafia is living proof of that. She gardens, fishes, forages, faces marauding bears and cuts and stacks firewood all by herself. Egorov sums up Agafia's success nicely: "The secret of survival is really simple: every day, routine hard work."
To learn more of Agafia's hard-earned survival secrets, check out the video—the latest from VICE's "Far Out" series ("Lifestyles of the remote and solitary.") that's co-sponsored by The North Face—below. You won't regret it.