Meet The Family Who Disappeared Into Siberia For Decades

When one Russian family tried to escape civilization, they literally fell off the map, and it took us 40 years to find them.

In 1936 Karp Lykov, an Old Believer Christian, was getting fed up with all those godless communists walking around. So when Bolsheviks shot his brother, he packed up his wife and kids and journeyed for hundreds of miles into the Siberian wilderness, rebooting his religion like the pilgrims did -- though they didn't freeze their nips off. Out there in the most inhuman cold, the Lykovs built a janky log cabin and farmed potatoes. They even had two more kids.

Because what else are you going to do during ten-month winters?Wiki CommonsBecause what else are you going to do during ten-month winters?

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Things were pretty nonlethal up until about 1961, when their crops started failing. To survive, they ate tree bark and even chewed the leather of their own shoes. The mother, Akulina, died of starvation just to give her family a fighting chance. Despite these post-apocalyptic conditions, the remaining Lykovs managed to stay alive and undetected until 1978, when geologists stumbled upon them. Having never seen a human being who wasn't a member of their family in their entire lives, the two youngest Lykov daughters thought the visitors were devils sent to punish them for their sins (again, long winters). The girls eventually calmed down after getting to eat actual bread for the first time ever.

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After the discovery, the Lykov family became famous in Russia, but finding out the place was still as communist as ever, they decided to stay in the wilderness. Sadly, over the next few years, nearly all the Lykovs died, with Karp croaking a mere year before the Soviet Union finally crumbled. Some claim their demise was because of the germs the geologists had brought with them, though years of starvation and living in a frozen hellscape with the closest thing to medicine being goat spit probably didn't help their odds. However, the youngest Lykov, Agafia, is still around and living in the harsh taiga, though she did have a wild trip back to civilization when she had to be airlifted to a hospital because of a leg injury. She did return to the wilderness as soon as possible -- not because of any communists, but because she thought that supermarket bar codes were "the Antichrist stamp." Like they say, once you eat shoe, no more civilization for you.

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For more on the Lykov family, check out Lost In The Taiga.

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