Snowbanks six and a half feet tall surrounded them as did thick birch trees. The sun was hidden behind the clouds. It started to snow, forcing the men back into their spacecraft.
Neither man was too concerned. Belyayev's childhood dream had been to become a hunter while Leonov had sought the beautiful isolation of the forest as an artistic outlet. It was the wildlife that worried them. The forest, they knew, was home to bears and wolves, unusually aggressive in the spring mating season. Between themselves the cosmonauts had one pistol but ample ammunition.
PHOTOS: Horror Stories from Space
It was lucky they had the gun. Around the time they returned to the safety of their capsule Moscow had no idea that they had even landed. Only men working at a listening post near Bonn, Germany and a nearby cargo plane did; by chance they'd both picked up a transmission from the crew and called for a search party.
Recovery crews did arrive in late afternoon, signaled by the unmistakable sound of helicopter. Leonov and Belyayev plowed through chest-deep snow into a clearing where they waved their arms frantically. Luckily the pilot spotted them, but unfortunately it was a civilian helicopter whose crew lacked the knowledge and equipment to effect a rescue. A rope ladder appeared in the clearing, but the cosmonauts had no hope of climbing it in their bulky pressure suits and boots.