Back in Vayegi, at last!
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 64.16.659° N; 171.14107° E
We were finally able to get transport out of Anadyr!
Thanks to my old friend, Baitushka Leonid (Father Leonid), моя судьба! (My destiny!) who once again came to my assistance!
Baitushka Leonid was in deed the man who helped Karl Bushby and I, when we were kept in the village of Lavrentiya for 25 days in April 2006, waiting for our first trial after having crossed the Bering Strait and being questioned by the local authorities.At the time, he was able to provide to us a free abode for our entire "city arrest" time in Lavrentiya!
Well, this time, he helped me with not only informing us of an unscheduled "sanreis" (emergency) flight aboard an Antonov 24 due to leave asap for Markova, but also truly invested some time and effort in order to move our cargo to the airport in the church minivan and secure our 2 seats and the shipping of our 270 kgs of gear, (including food & gear).
So after having paid for our seats, cargo and gave some french wine and pastries to the right people... We were able to quickly embark on to our planes yesterday morning Thursday March 11th @ 11h, after having waited for 16 days in Anadyr!
It was time to relax and enjoy the spectacle below of the white frozen tundra and meandering Anadyr river which I overcame in Spring 2008!
In the end, being able to travel by plane was by far the fastest, cheapest and safest way to travel and I am so glad we were able to grab those seats!
Thank you again Baitushka Leonid!
So long to all my Anadyr friends and thank you all once again for your kind and generous hospitality!
Once we landed in Markova, we were then greeted by all of my "airport friends" with whom I became quite close when I was waiting for 20 days for a flight out of here to Magadan back in December 2009, when I had to temporarly stop the expedition!
Igor, the traffic controller with whom it was refreshing to be able to communicate in english! Volodya , the chief of the airport security who gave me some of the best икра (salmon eggs) I have ever tasted and whom back then wanted to offer me a job as an airport security guard while I was waiting for those 20 days. I don't think it would have been a very stressfull job when one considers that NO planes (except for one military one) was able to land or take off during these 20 days! And finally, Rafek, Bashkir expat, the man in charge of refueling airplanes who fed me give me a home to stay for the first 10 days of my stay, the last time I was here!
Luckily, they were able to arrange for us transportation on the same day!!! to Vayegi aboard 7 tons Ural trucks, bringing food supplies to Vayegi.
So, while waiting for the trucks, we spent together in the airport 5 hours of catching up, while drinking coffee and a bit of coffee/beer and enjoying some tasty homemade сало (classic Russian lard, good to face the cold!), exchanging stories and gifts. Trading coffee for booze!
Yes this time, I have replaced the gifts I am passing on: switching little bottles of starbucks coffee liquor for the american whisky "Southern Comfort", which I think my friends in Chukotka need a lot of!
The 2 Urals arrived at 17h, picked us up and our 270kgs of gear in exchange for a reasonable monetary value. We went on to proceed on this Zimnik / winter road, where the trip lasted 5.15 hrs for 80 kms, watching these urals in the hands of experienced drivers,( for whom I have a lot of respect!) progressed through deep crevasses / tracks made in the snow by wezdehods / tanks.
Watching these drivers operate was like watching focused funambulists on a tight rope! The smallest mistake, inattention, could have lead us out of the deep tracks and this would have meant potential hours of pulling/digging/extracting!
Nyurgun and I were squeezed into one passenger seat, enjoying the view and catching up on what a chukotkan zimnik truck driver life entails!
We finally arrived at 22:15 in Vayegi, caught up with Mrs Bogariev, the wife of the mayor and my friend Viktor Bogariev who has helped me quite a bit in the past! She gave us access to a spare apartment in an older soviet type building where we were glad to spend the night with our gear/sleds which we had to haul to a 2d floor...Good practice once again!
Now, we have spent the day in Vayegi working on finalizing gear, catching up with locals and securing transportation via one snowmobile to take us tomorrow downstream, 9 frozen river miles to our exact starting point N64° 15.888; E171° 12.501 where I last stopped on dec 6th 2008!
PS: I have previously stated that my last position was N64° 16.659; E171° 14.107 but in fact this was where I spent my last night on Dec 6th, however, on Dec 7th, as I recalled and recently found out on my GPS, I was able to proceed a few final miles towards Vayegi to N64° 16.659; E171° 14.107 before calling it off with after my harness broke!
Soooo, less miles to trek means great news for our "prologue" tomorrow!