Trekking with three travelling dogs!
Tuesday April 20, 2010 - 62.55102° N, 167.08416° E
Starting my 40th Day,
Wednesday morning April 21st 2010
N 62° 55.102'; E 167° 08.416'
On a bend of the Penzhina river, between Slautnoye and Oklan.
Total: 369.7 kms
63.7kms since Slautnoye
After having spent 8 days in Slautnoye, making new friends, doing repairs, healing partly my frostbites, updating the website, waiting for the cyclone to pass and even dancing at the local "disco", I was able to depart on sunday April 18th.
Yes! I was able to purchase a new green tent strangely called "Eldegreen, the green hills of ireland" from friends Genia & Sasha in Slautnoye .
I have rigged it in a way that it can hopefully sustain strong windy blows, but I will need to convert it from a "3 seasons" status to a "4 seasons" status upon landing in kamenskoye, adding/sewing a 2d layer of synthetic cloth to the mosquito screen, to avoid the potential penetration of snow and wind.
Nyurgun stopped definitely in Slautnoye and from there, he has decided to return to Anadyr via wezdehod, helicopter and planes to resume his work in early May.
After having said goodbye and taking pictures with everyone I knew in slautnoye, I departed with Andrei, Vitte, Ania, her 2 years old son Timothei riding a sled, and her father Valeria.
On the outskirts of the village, I left everyone, except for koriak Valeria who wanted to accompany me for a while.
Upon departing, I promised to send to Vitte an identical pair to my ESS protective goggles with a nose guard, which he was envious of and would love to have for his long and harduous snowmobile rides in the exposed tundra!
After 5 kms, Valeria and I came actross 8 fishermen/women, white russians and koriaks, enjoying some sunday recreational ice fishing,
catching some 40-50 cms long shuka.
They invited me to stop over, sit around the fire and enjoy a cup of tea, which of course, I could not turn down!
In addition to the tea, I was also kindly given some lard, reindeer meat and smoked salmon. Truly a nice treat to receive on the road in fine company!
At the time, I was playing with the 3 dogs present and feeding them my reindeer bones and fish skins, not able to predict the future...
After about 40 minutes of eating, filming and watching the fishermen/women operate in front of their individual ice hole, I departed with koriak Valeria.
1 km further, making sure that he was leaving me on the right trail, Valeria returned to the fishing camp, after having enjoyed with me a few larabars and a few sips of nuun.
While saying goodbye, and sharing frostbiten stories after having seen his own dramatic scars, I asked him if the three dogs that were accompanying us were his, to which he responded "niet!" and departed...
So, here I was, left with 3 dogs: 2 beautiful huskies, and a smaller mutt, thinking that they will turn around and go home soon enough!
3.5 days and 63kms further, they are still with me, enjoying the ride, sleeping by my tent, and devouring my very meager left overs.
I suspect that they have also enjoyed sone road kills, watching one munching on white feather and wayching them chasing mostly invain any of the numerous birds thar we encounter. I am not feeding them except a few larabars which the devour because I surely did not plan in my food rations to feed THREE dogs in this section!
However, I will feed them some of my "extra" food if it becomes critical for them and/or my safety!
I must say that I have very much enjoyed their playful company, watching how they relate to each other, and truly enjoying being on the trail.
The leader, which reminds me of the dog Jack (see "The call of the wild" by Jack London), gets very excited
every time I start again, jumping in joy, barking and quickly running ahead!
Maybe because I am pulling the sled and he gets to play!
I have no idea how far they will travel with me and what would be their destiny upon entering the next village but for the time being once again I am surely enjoying their company and somewhat feel safer with them by my side.
Not sure though what would happen if wolves or a bear come to visit...
"We" have been travelling a minimum of 20 kms a day on a beautiful hard packed combined wezdehod /ural trail where we have seen no one.
I was told that the urals/trucks have mostly finished their seasonal transport work between kamenskoye and slautnoye and only one wezdehod travels this road every 10 days or so.
Saw on the side of the trail an intriguing antique dilapidated wezdehod and a few discarded oil barrels as well as sadly the usual cans and bottles from time to time where the drivers stopped for a snack!
I picked up some of the litter along the way but cannot afford to overload my sled any further!
When time allows, when I come across vodka bottles and small industrial/machinery/wooden pieces that fell off travelling vehicles, I take the time to stop and stand them up straight in the snow as statues... Thinking that it might keep the drivers more alert on their monotonous rides, and strangely adding excitement to my day...
Having said that, I wish I could cover more miles every day, but I am still pulling a fairly heavy sled (although I left extra fuel and food to be transported to Kamenskoye on the wezdehod), and I am still on antibiotics for my frostbiten fingers, which I suspect makes me additionally tired.
For the first 55 kms, we (the 3 dogs and I) travelled on beautiful flat frozen tundra, lakes and smaller river beds and now are travelling on top of the magestic Penzhina river where we slept last night on top of a cracking though safe section.
The weather has been great over the last three days: sunny, windless and hot (up to +2c), leading me to use Neos overall boots on top of my montrail sustina shoes to wade through mushy, wet sections.
I have not had to use my skis once since leaving Slautnoye, 63 kms away, thanks to a hard packed wezdehod trail!
I predict that I am about 2-3 days away from the small village of Oklan (50 inhabitants) and 4-6 days away the larger town of Kamenskoye.
Between here and there, I have been told that I am going to have to use my dry suit and swim with my sled across the Oklan river, an already opened river (because of its geothermal springs) with supposedly strong currents!
Hope "my" dogs are good swimmers!
For now, so long!