In an incredible story from the Siberian tundra, a woman who has lived in the brutal wilds for her entire life has finally visited modern civilization — albeit for a less-than-fun reason.
Agafya Lykova is the last remaining member of a Russian family that took to the woods after her father’s brother was shot by Stalinist soldiers in 1936. As members of a breakaway sect of the Russian Orthodox church, Lykova’s family was subject to harassment and persecution, and so decided to flee far from Stalin’s grasp. And they succeeded — so isolated were their lives in the wilderness that the family didn’t learn that World War II had occurred until their remote cabin was spotted in the 1970s by a group of geologists.
Agafya, now in her early 70s, has continued to live in her isolated cabin despite offers of accommodations in more settled areas. According to the Siberian Times, the cabin is more than 150 meters up a remote mountainside and subject to brutal winters that even Lykova admits are “unbearable.” Her unusual life, free from almost all 21st- or even most 20th- century modernity has been a source of interest to many in the region, including the Governor of the Kemerovo region where she resides, Aman Tuleyev. Tuleyev, who frequently sends Agytha care packages with food and warm clothing, also provided her with a satellite phone for emergencies.
This week — after 70 years that have seen the deaths of her siblings and parents, famines caused by severe weather, and attacks by hungry animals- she finally needed to use that emergency option. Suffering more than a week with severe leg pain, Ms. Lykova used the phone to call for help, and was airlifted to a hospital in what was probably the most mind-bending first helicopter ride in history. Doctors have since treated her for cartilage deterioration, and while she remains under observation, many believe she’ll ask to return to her cabin soon.
(Image via Twitter/Siberian Times.)